Fancy Dance Sundance Film Festival Review

Fancy Dance Sundance Film Festival Review

A still from Fancy Dance by Erica Tremblay, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by the press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

“Fancy Dance” is a much-needed masterpiece that tells the story of an Indigenous woman who goes missing and those left behind.

The data on murdered and missing Indigenous women show a harrowing reality about the lack of urgency by governmental authorities regarding this matter. Unfortunately, very little noise has been made ever since the disappearance, that too by Native communities mostly.

Sundance 2023 - Fancy Dance

On the other hand, we have seen a handful of films, TV shows, and documentaries that shed light on the matter. Although some handle the subject better than others, Fancy Dance is a recent example that has dealt with the topic more thoughtfully.

The movie is based on a script written by Erica Tremblay and Miciana Alise, and the main star is the stunning Lily Gladstone, who plays a Native American hustler named Jax. She’d had troubles with the law due to drug-related offenses and her thieving ways, but she does what she can to provide a life for herself and her niece, Roki.

The teenager comes under her care after Jax’s sister goes missing, and she tries to keep her hope alive even when her own begins to fade. When federal and state authorities – the same ones who made minimal effort to look for the missing woman – decide that it would be better for Roki to live with her white grandparents, Jax takes her on one last road trip.

According to Tremblay, the movie takes inspiration from the experiences and hardships of a Native and queer woman as well as stories of her relatives. It puts matriarchal bonds that unite the Indigenous communities together under the limelight.

The movie has received production incentives from the Tulsa Film Fund and Cherokee Nation Film Office. The funding supports job opportunities for local crew members and aims to create economic stability in the county. The Cherokee Nation is rapidly becoming the leader in Native storytelling via movies.

Erica Tremblay, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Lily Gladstone - "Fancy Dance" full AP Sundance interview

Fancy Dance proudly features Native American crew and talent and transmits authentic issues faced by Indigenous families, women, and their children.

The film ends on a light note and finds love and relief along the way, but it is an overall heart-wrenching film. We, as the audience, are not left hopeful for Jax or other Indigenous women, but we feel positive for Roki’s future. When the end credits start rolling andTeioswáthe’s song starts to play, take a moment to enjoy its beauty.

Once you finish, you can help recommend the movie to your friends or family so that it can help raise awareness about the barbarically high rate of murdered and missing Native women in the USA and Canada. Let's be responsible citizens and do our part, big or small.

FANCY DANCE | CherryPicks x Athleta #Sundance2023 Studio

Feature Image Courtesy of Sun Dance

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