Institute History

  • 2020 Sundance Film Festival


Renowned writer/director Pablo Larraín’s lusciously wild eighth film, Ema, premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and has since enchanted audiences worldwide.

Between elegantly choreographed performances, it is revealed that dancer Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) and her husband and dance company leader, Gastón (Gael García Bernal) returned their adopted son, Polo, to child services of their small town in Valparaíso, Chile, after he set their house on fire, badly burning Ema’s sister. The couple’s agonizing decision sets off a spiral of guilt and spins the marriage into crisis as Ema and Gastón blame each other for Polo’s actions. Ema decides to fill the wedge in her soul with a flamethrower, a rebellious ode to reggaeton, and a plan to regain motherhood.

Larraín (No, 2013 Sundance Film Festival) returns with a seductive psychological exploration of a woman determined to liberate herself from societal expectations. Ema redesigns her life and her home on her own terms, with fluidity and fearless freedom, igniting everyone and everything around her—and what burns in the complicated vertical labyrinth of Valparaíso can never be rebuilt.

— D.B.

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]