'GNT' (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

What is it like, as the director of an animated short, to have your entire film festival run confined to a pandemic period?

Such was the reality faced by Sara Hirner and Rosemary Vasquez-Brown, whose film GNT was shown as part of the Shorts Program at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Told through the volatile but co-dependent relationships of Glenn, Nikki, and Tammy, the film tackles the modern female experience and the lengths some will go to in order to validate their most vulgar curiosities and insecurities.

Prior to Sundance, the short had been featured at Anibar Animation Festival, San Francisco Indiefest, Female Filmmakers Fuse Film Festival, Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, where it was a semi-finalist, and Sydney Film Festival, where it picked up the Yoram Gross Award for Best Short Animation.

Vasquez-Brown told IF the film had managed to resonate with audiences, despite a lack of live screenings.

“Almost every viewing has been online, but we think the film suits that as well, so we have been very lucky,” she said.

“Even if people don’t understand exactly what we’re talking about, they still find it relatable and can get a laugh out of it, which is all you can really ask for.”

As part of its online slate, Sundance encouraged the use of augmented or virtual reality, with some presentations in the New Frontier section requiring viewers to wear a headset.

The festival also allowed participants to interact with one another via chatrooms, where artists were identified with gold sashes on their avatars.

Hirner said they had been able to navigate the virtual form of socialising without too much trouble.

“It’s been surprisingly successful,” she said.

“They set up this new frontier section that features rooms where you can go in and chat to other directors, as well as anyone else in the US who is taking part.

“It’s actually really fun, and in some ways, easier than the normal pitching process, especially for animators.”

With GNT initially intended as a proof of concept for an animated series, Hirner said she and Vasquez-Brown had been encouraged by the “super positive” response the film received at Sundance, where it was described as “clever and wonderfully gross”(AIPT).

“We’ve been reading reviews and crying a lot of the time, which is exciting,” she said

“We’d love to develop this longer, so hopefully that goes through.”

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