Sundance Film Festival: Asia Is Set for 23-26 September Online

Amelia Rosary Dewi | 8 September 2021

Sundance Institute and XRM Media, supported by IDN Media, announced today the program of feature films and panel discussions for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival: Asia, taking place online 23–26 September, 2021. The films will be available for viewing online in Indonesia. Digital Screening Passes for the online screenings will be available beginning on Wednesday 15 September; buy yours at SundanceFilmFestivalAsia.org

The festival will present eight feature films from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival selected for Jakarta by the Festival’s programming team in collaboration with XRM Media and IDN Media. Alongside the inspiring film program, panel discussions on platforms TikTok (@SundanceFFAsia) and Sundance Collab will drive audience conversations on various topics, with distinguished speakers from the local Indonesian filmmaking community and international filmmakers. During the weekend, an announcement of the Best Short Film Jury Award for the Short Film Competition will be presented. Plus, as a build-up to the Festival, a private workshop intensive designed to invigorate SEA regional talents will also take place.

“We’re delighted to be launching our first edition of Sundance Film Festival: Asia with an exciting group of fiction and documentary films that will be available throughout Indonesia,'' said Kim Yutani, Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival. “It’s a privilege to be able to bring the independent spirit of Sundance to a dynamic film community in Indonesia, and we look forward to connecting with local audiences and supporting Indonesian artists through our workshops and panel discussions.”

William Utomo, COO of IDN Media, added, “Sundance Film Festival: Asia 2021 is to present a series of intensive and comprehensive programs. We hope that filmmakers in the region can gain new insights about the film industry through these programs. In line with IDN Media's vision to give #PositiveImpact for the society, Sundance Film Festival: Asia 2021 is committed to discovering new talents in Southeast Asia, then connecting them to experts in the film industry."

The four narrative and four documentary films selected for the inaugural Festival are:

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir/U.S.A. (Director: James Redford, Producers: Karen Pritzker, Cassandra Jabola) — Amy Tan has established herself as one of America's most respected literary voices. Born to Chinese immigrant parents, it would be decades before the author of The Joy Luck Club would fully understand the inherited trauma rooted in the legacies of women who survived the Chinese tradition of concubinage. Documentary

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be Quiet/Argentina (Director: Ana Katz, Screenwriters: Ana Katz, Gonzalo Delgado, Producers: Laura Huberman, Ana Katz) — Sebastian, a man in his thirties, works a series of temporary jobs and he embraces love at every opportunity. He transforms, through a series of short encounters, as the world flirts with possible apocalypse. Cast: Daniel Katz, Julieta Zylberberg, Valeria Lois, Mirella Pascual, Carlos Portaluppi. Narrative                                               

Try Harder!/U.S.A. (Director: Debbie Lum, Producers: Debbie Lum, Lou Nakasako, Nico Opper) — In a universe where cool kids are nerds, the orchestra is world class and being Asian American is the norm, seniors at Lowell High School compete for the top prize: admission to the college of their dreams. Documentary

John and the Hole/U.S.A. (Director: Pascual Sisto, Screenwriter: Nicolás Giacobone, Producers: Elika Portnoy, Alex Orlovsky, Mike Bowes) — A nontraditional coming-of-age story, set in the unsettling reality of John, a kid who holds his family captive in a hole in the ground. Cast: Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle, Taissa Farmiga. Narrative

Luzzu/Malta (Director and Screenwriter: Alex Camilleri, Producers: Rebecca Anastasi, Ramin Bahrani, Alex Camilleri, Oliver Mallia) — Jesmark, a struggling fisherman on the island of Malta, is forced to turn his back on generations of tradition and risk everything by entering the world of black market fishing to provide for his girlfriend and newborn baby. Cast: Jesmark Scicluna, Michela Farrugia, David Scicluna. Narrative

Passing/U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Rebecca Hall, Producers: Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Margot Hand, Rebecca Hall) — Two African-American women who can "pass" as white choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York in an exploration of racial and gender identity, performance, obsession and repression. Based on the novella by Nella Larsen. Cast: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Camp. Narrative

Users/U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Natalia Almada, Producers: Elizabeth Lodge Stepp, Josh Penn) — A mother wonders, will my children love their perfect machines more than they love me, their imperfect mother? She switches on a smart-crib lulling her crying baby to sleep. This perfect mother is everywhere. She watches over us, takes care of us. We listen to her. We trust her. Documentary

Writing With Fire/India (Directors and Producers: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh) — In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India's only newspaper run by Dalit women. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions on the frontlines of India's biggest issues and within the confines of their own homes, redefining what it means to be powerful. Documentary

The panels programming includes: (additional topics to be confirmed)

  • IDN Media presents: ​​Film Outlook - Indonesian Film Industry from 2016 boom, pandemic era, to Post-Pandemic potential.

After president Joko Widodo opened ‘Negative Investment List’, foreign investors started to invest in Indonesian film for several sectors including new cinema branches, and production. In 2016 until early 2020, Indonesian film audiences increased significantly. But, everything stopped after COVID-19 became a global pandemic. Established industry insiders Mira Lesmana (Founder of Miles Films), Angga Sasongko (Founder of Visinema Pictures), and Chand Parwez Servia (President Director of Starvision) will tell the journey about how they lived throughout the booming of the industry, current pandemic situation, and in the preparation for post pandemic boom.

  • Live streamed on TikTok (@SundanceFFAsia) on Thursday 23 September, 11:00 a.m. WIB

  • IDN Media presents: Women in Film Industry. 

This session will take the audience through the journey of the Indonesian film industry through women’s eyes. How do they deal with the workplace in a male dominated environment, and share inside information regarding their experience as a newcomer until becoming well known professionals. Filmmaker Nia Dinata (Berbagi Suami), screenwriter Gina S. Noer (Habibie & Ainun), and producer Susanti Dewi (Moammar Emka's Jakarta Undercover) will join the conversation. This session will also invite industry experts outside of Indonesia, Sue Turley (SVP of XRM Media) and Amanda Salazar (Head of Programming and Acquisitions of Argo), to elaborate further on how this matter transcends beyond any specific spectrum in the industry.

  • Live streamed on TikTok (@SundanceFFAsia) on Thursday 23 September, 15:00 p.m. WIB

  • IDN Media presents: The Directors - Festivals and the Pathway to Success.

In their early career many filmmakers got their recognition by showing their film in festivals. Some also meet their future working partners during their time in International festivals. Those are the results. What about the process? This session, filmmakers Joko Anwar (Impetigore), Edwin (the recent Golden Leopard award-winning Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash) and Yosep Anggi Noen (The Science of Fictions) will tell their experiences when they discover festivals as a pathway to show their films into the world. Moderated by Fajar Nugros (Head of IDN Pictures), the speakers will share their views on how the Film Festivals, Fellowship programs, and International Workshops can help their career in the future. Also, how the festival can nurture new voices and auteurs to kick off their journey in the filmmaking world.

  • Live streamed on TikTok (@SundanceFFAsia) on Friday 24 September, 15:00 p.m. WIB

  • Conversation with Sundance Film Festival: Asia Documentary Filmmakers Followed by live Q&A with Sundance Festival Programmers Kim Yutani & Heidi Zwicker.

Sundance Senior Programmer Heidi Zwicker is joined by filmmakers Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (Writing With Fire), Natalia Almada (Users) and Debbie Lum (Try Harder) for a chat about documentary filmmaking. The filmmakers will discuss their experiences making their films, what it meant to launch them into the online festival world and their advice for aspiring non-fiction filmmakers. Immediately following the filmmaker discussion, Heidi along with Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming Kim Yutani will participate in a live Q&A session to answer your questions about all things Sundance and programming the films in this year’s lineup.

  • Live streamed on Sundance Collab on Saturday September 25, 11:00 a.m. WIB

  • Focus on Indonesian Short Filmmaking

Some of the most successful contemporary Indonesian shorts directors and producers come together to talk about working in short film, swap stories about their experiences taking their work to the international stage and explain how they are capitalizing on short film successes as they create future cinematic work. Featuring Sundance Film Festival alumni Wregas Bhanuteja (No One is Crazy in This Town) and Aditya Ahmad (A Gift), as well as producer Meiske Taurisia (award-winning Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash). This conversation will be moderated by former Sundance Film Festival Shorts Programmer and current Head of Features at Perfect Storm Entertainment (Fast and Furious franchise, Star Trek Beyond) Ernesto Foronda.

  • Taking place pre-festival on Sundance Collab on Friday September 17th, 10:00 a.m. WIB

Short Film Competition 

The Jury Award for Best Short Film for the Short Film Competition will be revealed via a live stream TikTok event (@SundanceFFAsia) on Saturday 25 September, along with announcing the Honorary Mentions. The competition was open to Indonesian filmmakers with the aim of discovering and bringing attention to emerging talents who are within the territory to a global platform. The Jury Awardee and Honorary Mentions will have the opportunity to stream on Argo from XX Sep onwards. Over 160 submissions were received, and the 10 finalists chosen are: Black Winter (Noviandra Santosa), Diary of Cattle (Lidia Afrilita & David Darmadi), Goodnight, Stargazer (Adriano Rudiman), Jamal (Muhammad Heri Fadli), Makassar is a City for Football Fans (Khozy Rizal), Masa Depan Cerah 2040 (Winner Wijaya), Rendang of Death (Percolate Galactic), Rong (Indira Iman), Srikandi (Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto), and Sunrise in the Forest (Samuel Ruby).

Sundance Film Festival: Asia Intensive Program

As an outreach to the regional community, The Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program will be hosting a private two-day online intensive for regional emerging filmmakers. Designed to be a showcase and accelerator for new Southeast Asian talent, the intensive will provide access to industry experts and the Institute’s artist program staff. Filmmakers who have applied and selected for the program include: Lucky Kuswandi (Indonesia), Sabrina Rochelle Kalangie (Indonesia), Khozy Rizal (Indonesia), Sonny Calvento (Philippines), Kris Ong (Singapore), and Lomorpich Rithy (Cambodia). 

More information will be available at SundanceFilmFestivalAsia.org

Join the conversation on social media with #SundanceAsia. 

Ticket Information

Tickets on-sale dates:

Ticket Prices: 

  • 30,000 IDR - Single Screening Pass

  • 85,000IDR - Explorer Pass for all access to every screening