The Shawl Review: Sundance 2020

Pleasures converge in film producer Sara Kiener’s directorial debut The Shawl, a beautifully animated short that tells of a love affair that blossomed under the witchy magic that only Stevie Nicks can generate. Shane O’Neill, or “Shane Shane,” a writer, performer, and videomaker whose style is “art teacher woman with a beard, or fat aerobics teacher,” met New York fashion designer Dusty Lynn Childers on the web. They formed a bond thanks to their love of the icon/shawl-laden singer, which then saw them falling for each other. Shane Shane moved to the Big Apple and, within the first summer of their relationship, they attended a Stevie Nicks concert in Jones Beach where an argument led to a miracle.

The two make a charming pair. Both of them plus-size with a penchant for colourful linens as garb, and their appearance marks them as fringe outsiders to anyone who doesn’t like when members of our community stand out too much. This is what artist Brianne Foley’s colourful, flowing animation seeks to celebrate. The story they tell, of a fight that started when Dusty insisted that Nicks was wearing the original black and gold shawl from her “Stand Back” video, sees romance, conflict, and a resolution (thanks to a Stevie Ex Machina) happen in only six thoroughly enjoyable minutes.

Kiener’s film shows us that two people sharing a magical moment over a beloved icon, and the happiness it brings them, can speak powerfully to the other more politically powerful aspects of their lives that need to be highlighted. Maybe we didn’t all jack off on a web cam and then play “I Can’t Wait” when we were about to move in with our boyfriends, but if we did, we might not all be as generous as these two are in sharing that moment with us.

The Shawl screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

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