Sara Kiener’s Sundance 2020 short film “The Shawl” is finding a new spotlight thanks to the Vimeo Staff Picks selection.

The coveted title has helped launch the careers of filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie, Charlotte Wells, Kogonada, Eliza Hittman, David Lowery, and Ari Aster, and now Kiener is among those awarded with the Staff Pick badge honor for “The Shawl.”

The short film stars performers Dusty Childers and Shane O’Neill, who lend their respective voices to their animated counterparts, while they recall attending a Stevie Nicks concert. Illustrator Brianne Farley and director Kiener co-created the project, with Maya Edelman overseeing the animation.

Fleetwood Mac founder Nicks called the film “awesome,” and former Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper called “The Shawl” a quintessential short film that emphasizes a mastery of the format. “The Shawl” went on to win a special jury award at SXSW 2020 and later screened at Rooftop Films and Outfest.

Kiener told IndieWire following the premiere of the short at Sundance in 2020, “I work in distribution at my day job and there’s a bit of a lack of respect or care for the craft when it comes to shorts,” Kiener said. “Then again, my wife [Lauren Wolkstein]’s short films played at Sundance and SXSW and it completely launched her career. So it’s a way in for sure, but I don’t think these films get seen as widely as they should be. It’s a shame, and I think it’s a huge missed opportunity.”

The representation for different bodies via animation in “The Shawl” is also crucial to the film’s reception, according to subjects Childers and O’Neill.

“This film could be found by gay kids or kids who don’t know if they’re gay,” Childers told IndieWire. “Had I seen a fat person illustrated in such a beautiful light, the way that we are, as a kid, I probably would have slept better.”

Co-star and partner O’Neill added, “This is a movie about two fat people who are in love. It captured the way I feel when I’m with Dusty. Being fat is a large part of who we are, and there is a lot of trauma that comes with that. But the best parts of our relationship are that we found each other and love each other as fat people, and not in spite of being fat.”

The short was produced by Zachary Luke Kislevitz of Kislevitz Films (“Port Authority,” “Cusp,” “Bama Rush”) with original music by Ted Ottaviano from Book of Love

With the Vimeo Staff Pick badge, “The Shawl” is now four years later wrapped in a new light. The program was founded in 2008 by Blake Whitman and dalas verdugo and is now run by staff curators. Currently, there are over 15,000 videos in the channel, which is followed by more than 1.4 million Vimeo users worldwide. Watch the short film below.

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