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The Sundance Question: What Prop or Piece of Set Decoration is Particularly Integral to Your Film?

Photo: Kelsey Doyle

Each year Filmmaker asks all the incoming feature directors at Sundance one question. (To see past years’ questions and responses, click here.)

This year’s question:
Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell?
(Check back daily during the festival — new answers are uploaded each day throughout the festival.)

“It is An Object That Should Not Belong to That World”: Maite Alberdi |The Mole Agent

“Turquoise’s Old Pageant Crown”: Channing Godfrey Peoples | Miss Juneteenth

“The Moon”: Natalie Johns | Max Richter’s Sleep

“A Simple Jog by the Water”: Writer Craig Borten | Sergio

“I Was Determined to Find a Home That Had a Pass-Through Window Separating the Kitchen From the Eating Area”: Liz Garbus | Lost Girls

“The Shrine Serves as a Powerful Locus of Non-Forgetting”: Patricia Vidal Delgado | La Leyenda Negra

“This Was a Very Real, Meaningful Artifact—Not Just a Piece of Costume—That Carried With It Some Kind of Soul”: Braden King | The Evening Hour

“We Had a Lot of Fun Creating Sexist Ads Until It Became Not So Fun”: Shana Feste | Run Sweetheart Run

“I’m Interested in How Objects Hold History and Stories and Remember People”: David Shapiro | Untitled Pizza Movie

“We Endeavored to Give Each of Our Locations a Tone, Rhythm and Color Palette”: Richard Poplak and Diana Neille | Influence

“The Objects of a Time Passed”: Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw | The Truffle Hunters 

“Walls are Used to Separate the ‘Normal’ From the ‘Different'”: Radu Ciorniciuc | Acasa, My Home

“Centering and Amplifying Trans Voices With Elegance and Dignity”: Sam Feder | Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen

“The Semicircle of Empty Chairs Being Set Up and Attended To”: James D. Stern | Giving Voice

“A Handwritten Sign That Says: ‘Fearless, Revolutionary, Optimism'”: Fernando Villena | Giving Voice

“The Tape, and His Action of Tying Himself Up, Is Emblematic to Me of Something at the Heart of the Story”: Romola Garai | Amulet

“I Wanted to Subtly Evoke Biosphere 2 in My Interview Shots”: Matt Wolf | Spaceship Earth

“An Emotional Language Emerged Within the Textured Universe of Glitches”: Matt Yoka | Whirlybird

“A Dream Refusing Deferment”: Garrett Bradley | Time

“When I Was a Kid, I Thought That Being a Psychiatrist Meant Getting to Sit in the Most Comfortable Chair in the World”: Kirsten Johnson | Dick Johnson is Dead

When Used Well, Mirrors in Film Can Create Stunning and Confounding Images“: Bill Benz | The Nowhere Inn

“Linus Has His Blanket. Radha Has Her Head Wrap”: Radha Blank | The 40-Year-Old Version

“Each of the Remembered Hoovers Made a Different Sound”: Jerry Rothwell | The Reason I Jump

“This Simple, Undeniable Math Represents the Profound Connectivity of All Things”: Tara Miele | Wander Darkly

“You Can Ride Poison to its Possibilities”: Josephine Decker | Shirley

“The Walking Stick Is the Object That Ties Their Fates Together”: Cedric Cheung-Lau | The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me

A Celebration of the Pure-Hearted Passion of Amateurs”: Euros Lyn | Dream Horse

“We Took an Airboat to the Middle of That Truly Unique Geographic Expanse of Subtropical Wilderness”: Kim A. Snyder | Us Kids

“The Art Department Came Up to Me and Said We’re Running Low on Ice Cream, Your Grandfather Is Eating It Too Fast”: Michael Covino | The Climb

“The One Million Dollar Winning Game Piece From the Monopoly Game at McDonald’s”: James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte | McMillion$

“The Mystic, Magical Vibes of His Home”: Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch | Mucho Mucho Amor

“Not Your Regular Scented Candles”: Natalie Erika James | Relic

“It Serves as a Physical Manifestation of Climate Change and the Challenges to Rebuild”: Ron Howard | Rebuilding Paradise

“The Objects Then Unexpectedly Became Integral to a Brutal Murder Case”: Emma Sullivan | Into the Deep

“Water Is the Source of Life, Cleansing Element, Purifier, Serene”: Jayro Bustamante | La Llorona

The Minox Miniature Camera That Penkovsky Uses to Photograph 50,000 Secret Soviet Military Documents”: Dominic Cooke | Ironbark

This Log Cabin Is the Fifth Cast Member”: Josh Ruben | Scare Me

“They Amplify the Size of Her Eyes, Enhance Every Nervous Tic.”: Adam Carter Rehmeier | Dinner in America

“A Metaphor for a Woman’s Rebuilding of Her Broken Life”: Phyllida Lloyd | Herself

“No Object is More Important Than People, Artists, Community and Love”: Catherine Gund | Aggie

“Objects Are Her Entire World”: Zoé Wittock | Jumbo

“We Have Around 10 Unplanned Appearances of People Riding Scooters in the Movie”: Carlos López Estrada | Summertime

“Wheelchairs, Crutches and Canes Take on New Shape and Meaning”: Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht | Crip Camp

“The Main Painting That Is Stolen Is of a Dead Swan”: Benjamin Ree | The Painter and the Thief

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