Film Review: Sundance 2020 LGBTQ+ Short The Shawl ★★★★

The Shawl (2019, 7 mins)

Even if you didn’t get to see Sara Kiener’s The Shawl at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it world premiered with feature Mucho Mucho Amor, the chances are the bewitching outfits of the film’s star couple, Shane O’Neill and Dusty Childers, caught your eye in the snowy Park City streets, or at least on Instagram!

Similarly stylish threads and the gorgeous men themselves are beautifully rendered in vibrant, effectively simple animation (overseen by animation director Maya Edelman) throughout The Shawl. Initially long distance lovers, Shane recalls sending Dusty a romantic Stevie Nicks inspired jerk-off-cum-lipsynch video as the day of them finally living in the same city, and going to a Nicks concert together, fast approached. With a running time of under seven minutes, the film’s focus soon turns to an anecdote from the day of the concert, which the couple adorably share the telling of. The result is a heartwarming feast for the eyes and ears, with a crisply edited dialogue track (edited by Seth Lind), lovingly detailed soundscape and an uplifting electronic score by Ted Ottaviano; it’s a celebration of queer love, fabulously eccentric fashion, beards and the passion of a true fan.

A still from The Shall by Sara Kiener, an official selection of the Shorts Programs at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

We all like being told stories and there’s something about animation that touches us on a deep emotional level, whatever age we happen to be. In fact the experience of watching this vibrantly animated short feels like a hug from a close friend you don’t see often enough that fills you with sunshine and for a moment makes it feel as if all is right with the world.

By James Kleinmann

The Shawl had its world premiere at Sundance 2020 where it screened before Mucho Mucho Amor.

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