Sundance Selects Chicago Short ‘Close Ties to Home Country’

Over 10,000 films submitted, only 59 are selected. Close Ties to Home Country, a short comedy produced and filmed in Chicago, is heading to the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The prestigious Park City lineup is set to screen live and in-person January 20-30. But first, SCREEN has an exclusive chat for you with the film’s producer, Felicia Ferrara.

“Some people will laugh. Some will cry,” Ferrara shared with SCREEN. “What will resonate is the experience of loneliness and being far away from family. Within this story, the broken immigration system is what keeps families apart.”

Here is your first look at the Chicago-made Sundance Selection Close Ties to Home Country:

Close Ties to Home Country follows millennial Akanksha. The young immigrant “originally from India but actually grew up in Saudi Arabia” is dog-sitting “Timothee,” the baby Frenchie of two wealthy Instagram influencers while they’re on a trip to India. Akanksha’s sister is scheduled to visit her soon – they haven’t seen each other in nine years. While she waits, Akanksha bonds with “Timothee” and enjoys the spoils of the Instagram influencers’ money and privilege. Her friend Sophia arrives to engage in judgy hijinks, and Akanksha considers why she stays away from her home country.

From Masters Thesis Project to the National Spotlight

The filmmakers, Akanksha Cruczynski and Felicia Ferrara, made Close Ties to Home Country as their joined thesis project at Columbia College Chicago. Cruczynski and Ferrara are pursuing their Master of Fine Arts degrees in Cinema Directing and Creative Producing, respectively. The film is inspired by director Akanksha Cruczynski’s dog-sitting experiences and features her real sister.

Producer Felicia Ferrara of Sundance pick Close Ties to Home Country

“Akanksha and I are good friends and our art and opinions have always aligned,” Producer Felicia Ferrara told SCREEN. “We knew we wanted to make a film together, and Akanksha had sent over a handful of concepts to me, most of them based on her life experience.”

As for what resonated with Ferrara about Cruczynski’s narrative, “This story stood out to me the most because of its authenticity, humor, nuance, absurdity and heartbreak. We knew that this was a story that needed to be told by this generation, that it would resonate with a lot of people, and thus began the screenwriting phase. Two and a half years later, here we are at Sundance.”

Looking Ahead to Sundance

“Akanksha and I never even dreamt that this short film would have the audience it has had over the past year,” Ferrara shared with SCREEN. “We are so grateful for that, and who knows, maybe we’ll find an opportunity to expand it into a longer form.”

Akanksha and Felicia’s team features cinematographer Luke Dyra, production designer Amy Tompkins, and music from Brandon Stanley. Akanksha’s castmates in front of the screen include Cassie Kramer, Simon Hedger, Sophia Rafiqi and Aishwarya Chawla.

Sundance will be live and in-person January 20-30, in Park City, Utah. Click here to follow Close Ties to Home Country.

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