TAU Film to Screen at Sundance

Barbie Blues wins spot in international short film competition at prestigious U.S. festival despite shoestring budget

Still from Barbie Blues

Barbie Blues, a film by Adi Kutner, a fourth-year student at Tel Aviv University's Department of Film and Television, will be screened in January 2012 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, one of the world's premier festivals for independent films. It is one of only 64 short films chosen from 7,675 applicants from around the world.

With a recent first place win in the short films category at the Jerusalem International Film Festival and a showing at the Rehovot Women's Film Festival, Barbie Blues is gaining momentum. "The Tel Aviv University Department of Film and Television is very proud to have Adi Kutner and her film represent us at Sundance," says Elite Zexer, public relations representative for the department. "We are especially proud since this is the third short film by a female TAU director to be shown at Sundance in the past four years."

Kutner says that Sundance will be the first international showing of her film. "I've been turned down by most major festivals abroad — but Sundance was worth the wait," she laughs. "I feel honored to be acknowledged by the American independent film industry. Sundance is an amazing stage for film makers who work outside of Hollywood."

A simple story that resonates across cultures

Adi Kutner
Adi Kutner

With a total production budget of only $800.00 provided by the Friends of Tel Aviv University Trust in Great Britain, the film is a triumph for Kutner. The depth and artistry of the movie shine through its simplicity — one location, two characters, three days of shooting, and a strong vision led to a movie worthy of Sundance. "It shows that you can go anywhere with a story," she says.

Tackling important issues such as the leap from childhood to adulthood and emerging sexuality, this coming-of-age story set in Israeli suburbia has resonated with audiences across cultures. The movie centers on a relationship between Mika, a lonely teenager whose life looks perfect from the outside, and her new neighbor Gershon.

Through her encounter with Gershon, Mika discovers the boundaries of her femininity and sexuality for the first time, says Kutner. But like the Barbie dolls the film is named for, it's a shallow and idealized version of what a woman should be. "There's an awkward border that teens walk between adulthood and childhood," she reflects, noting that teenage girls so often mimic what society tells them is "sexy" without fully understanding the meaning of their behavior. Adolescence and life in suburbia are important themes in both American and global cultures, says Kutner, citing as her inspirations films such as Blue Velvet and American Beauty.

Though the movie deals with some controversial issues, Kutner maintains that it was never meant to serve as social commentary. "I'm not trying to say how girls should and should not act. The film is not meant to provide answers, but rather to raise questions about issues such as sexuality and control," she says.

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