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Malia Obama Really Nailed the Indie-Darling Thing at the Sundance Film Festival

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Malia Obama looked like a true auteur at the Sundance Film Festival, where she graced the red carpet for the premiere of her new short, The Heart. The 25-year-old daughter of former president Barack Obama dressed the part of an indie filmmaker for the screening in a gray coat, pinstriped button-down, black jeans, cherry-colored leather Chelsea boots, and a skinny gray scarf for a look that feels very indie sleaze. Thin impractical scarves do seem to be making a comeback for spring. And I'm really digging the way her Doc Martens match her burgundy dye job.

It's important to understand that Sundance is hosted in Park City, Utah, at peak ski season. In other words, it's cold. And it's a comparatively casual affair, intentionally striking a different chord from the old-school glamour of Cannes Film Festival.

<h1 class="title">2024 Sundance Film Festival - Short Film Program 1</h1><cite class="credit">Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images</cite>

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Short Film Program 1

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The Heart, which was screened in the US short fiction films category, follows a lonely man grieving the loss of his mother as he tries to honor “an unusual request in her will,” as Malia Obama put it in a promotional interview ahead of the festival.

“The film is about lost objects and lonely people and forgiveness and regret,” she explained in the clip, “but I also think it works hard to uncover where tenderness and closeness can exist in those things.”

Obama is both the writer and director of the short, which was created for Donald Glover's production company, Gilga. She also worked as a writer on Glover’s buzzy series Swarm after beginning her career with a summer internship on HBO’s Girls. In an April cover story for GQ, Glover shared the (somewhat debatable) advice he gave Obama before starting work on The Heart.

“The first thing we did was talk about the fact that she will only get to do this once,” he told the publication. "You’re Obama’s daughter. So if you make a bad film, it will follow you around.”

Glover’s creative partner at Gilga, Fam Udeorji, had a slightly more nuanced take on the subject. “Understanding somebody like Malia’s cachet means something," he added in the piece. “But we really wanted to make sure she could make what she wanted—even if it was a slow process…. It’s more about diversity of thought than just, like, diversity for optics. You know what I mean?”


Originally Appeared on Glamour