Director: Garret Williams
Screenwriters: Garret Williams

Institute History


Spark is not your everyday road movie. It starts innocently enough as Nina and Byron, a young African-American couple, leave Chicago with their parents waving good-bye under the opening credits. From there, the viewer is quickly transported to a hot, dusty southwestern highway, the horizon stretching far out in front of the BMW carrying our two California-bound protagonists. They take a “scenic” route and hit a dog, but Byron speeds away from the injured animal. Then the Beamer fails in the middle of nowhere—and thus begins the story. Caught in a small roadside town, they encounter hostility, frustration, and perhaps racism. Angered by delays and high repair costs, Byron’s brusque street style succeeds in alienating every local he meets. Then, an unusual ally appears, the young, white Mooney, the oddball, redneck son of the local garage owner. He offers to help find replacement car parts and show the outsiders the local sights. At the same time, Mooney exhibits a conflicting range of emotions, some having to do with the death of his mother in an auto crash, others with the recent disappearance of his dog. Alcohol and guns follow, along with a prophetic comment from Mooney to Byron: “I’m going to pay you back.” Nina finally makes it to California, with the wise advice of a waitress in the out-of-the-way town still fresh in her mind: “You can't change nobody no matter how much you love him. You got to start with good.”

Garret Williams, Director
Born in Minneapolis in 1967,
Garret Williams is a graduate of Augsburg College and the American Film Institute. Then he made the NEA-funded short Spark, which served as the basis for his first feature film. A Sundance Filmmakers Lab project just prior to production, Spark also won the Minnesota Blockbuster/ McKnight Film Fund Award for a script under development.

— Gail Silva

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]