Foi Bonita a Festa

 Tracing Utopia Tracing Utopia Tracing Utopia Tracing Utopia

Catarina de Sousa and Nick Tyson, 2021

27’, video and 8mm film, color, surround sound, spoken in English. Portugal. Distribution and sales by Portugal Film – Portuguese Film Agency.

Tracing Utopia is an odyssey into the dreams of a group of queer teens in New York City as they envision a better world. Directed by Catarina de Sousa and Nick Tyson, this short documentary imagines a form of queer community transcending time, through glimpses of a utopia made manifest in the streets, in community spaces, and online. A collaborative manifesto weaves these pasts and futures together--calling for the change that queer youth strive for today: “As queer teens in Queens, we demand this in order to build a better world.”

Tracing Utopia premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. It was the winner of the Best Narrative Short Film Award at the Kashish Mumbai International Short Film Festival and had a Special Mention from the Casa Comum Award at Queer Porto both in 2021, and a Special Mention at Porto Femme in 2022.

Written and directed by Catarina de Sousa and Nick Tyson, with Asher, Chase, Jay, Mars, Raphael
Cast Asher, Chase, Mars, Jay, Raphael, Julia, Lindsey
Cinematography Catarina de Sousa, Nick Tyson
Sound Recordings H. Mur, Rafael Gonçalves Cardoso
Sound Mix Rafael Gonçalves Cardoso
Editing Catarina de Sousa
Producers UnionDocs, Catarina de Sousa, Nick Tyson
Produced by Foi Bonita a Festa
With the kind support of UnionDocs
Camera Assistant Hõbe Ilus
Art Assistant Daniel Monello
Art Direction Advisor James Bartol
Visual Effects Catarina Aguiar, Nick Tyson
Color Correction Rita Lamas
Graphic Design Catarina Aguiar
Executive Artistic Director Christopher Allen
Producer of Labs and Workshops Martine Granby
Assistant Artistic Director Jenny Miller
Mentor Tara Mateik
Minecraft Constructions Asher, Chase, Julia, Lindsey, Mars, Raphael, MrGarretto
Super 8mm Footage “Queer Liberation March” NY, 2020
Film and Revealed by Catarina de Sousa at MONO NO AWARE
Supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Music “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie and “Touch-Tone Telephone” by Lemon Demon
Text adapted from The Unavowable Community by Maurice Blanchot and “Changes” by David Bowie

    UnionDocs Team
Special Projects Director Alison S. M. Kobayashi
Programs Assistant Abby Lord
Operations Assistant Juan Pedro Agurcia

    2020 UnionDocs Collaborative Studio Artists
Nundrisha Wakhloo, Hõbe Ilus, Nick Tyson, Bronte Stahl, Elijah Stevens, Liyan Zhao, Milton Secchi, Catarina De Sousa, Amir Shams, Xen Nhà, Hilo Mur, Lindsay Skedgell

    Special Thanks
Caitlin Mae Burke, Cecilia Aldarondo, Kellen Quinn, Sophia Nahil Allison, Ephraim Asili, Mary Helena Clark, Penny Lane, Derek Howard, Zack Khalil, Dan Rosato, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, Kazuhiro Soda, Brett Story, Su Friedrich, Christopher Harris, Eric Hynes, Roger W. Beebe, Carlos A. Gutiérrez, Ted Kennedy, Jackie Goss, Courtney Stephens, Leo Goldsmith, Toby Lee, Sean Boyd - Art Farm Recording, Lindsey Duel, Julia Peitzer, Carson Parish, Brian Lewis, Jean Sonderand, Julian Donaghue, Sharang Biswas, Carlos Maria de Sousa, Maria Teresa da Cunha Guimarães, Lian Andrade, Zara Pinto Coelho, Maria Conceição de Sousa, Constança Urbano de Sousa, Luís Urbano, Jacinta Aguiar, Mariana Silva, Pedro Neves Marques, UnionDocs Board of Directors, UnionDocs Advisory Committee, UnionDocs Collaborative Alumni

IFFR | International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2021 (premiere)
BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, UK, 2021
É Tudo Verdade, Brazil, 2021
International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany, 2021
Vienna Shorts - Vienna Independent Short Film Festival, Austria, 2021
Hamburg Short Film Festival, Germany, 2021
Mo&Friese Children’s Short Film Festival Hamburg, Germany, 2021
Istanbul Pride Week - Pera Museum, Turkey, 2021
Kyiv International Short Film Festival, Ukraine, 2021
DevolvidDe, Mexico, 2021
XPOSED Queer Film Festival Berlin, Germany, 2021
MIEFF - Moscow International Experimental Film Festival, Russia, 2021
Kashish Mumbai International Short Film Festival, India, 2021 (Best International Narrative Short Award)
IndieLisboa International Film Festival, Portugal, 2021
Queer Porto, Portugal, 2021 (Special Mention from the Casa Comum Award)
Shnit Worldwide Short Film Festival, Switzerland, 2021
Uppsala Short Film Festival, Sweden, 2021
Belo Horizonte International Short Film Festival – FestCurtasBH, Brazil, 2021
FRONTDOC, Italy, 021

Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest, UK, 2021
Festival Mix Brasil de Cultura da Diversidade, Brazil, 2021
Kasseler Documentary Film and Video Festival, Germany, 2021
KFFK / Kurzfilmfestival Köln, Germany, 2021
Dialogues Film Festival, India, 2021
Pravo Ljudski Film Festival, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2021
Fotomuseum Antwerpen: FOMU, Bélgica, 2022
Massimadi : Afro LGBTQ+ Film & Arts Festival, Canada, 2022
jfc Medienzentrum, Germany, 2022
Glasgow Short Film Festival, United Kingdom, 2022
Festival Política, Portugal, 2022
Taiwan International Documentary Festival, Taiwan, 2022
La Fête du Slip, Switzerland, 2022
Short Waves, Poland, 2022
Anthology Film Archives, USA, 2022
Kinemastik International Short Film Festival, Malta, 2022
Porto Femme, Portugal, 2022 (Menção Honrosa da Competição XX Element)
Helsinki International Film Festival - Love & Anarchy, Finland, 2022
International Film Festival BRNO16, Czech Republic, 2022

HOME, Manchester, Reino Unido, 2022
Arquipélago, Ilha de São Miguel, Portugal, 2022
Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev, Ucrânia, 2021

“COVID 19 has been particularly tough on young people, and even more so, young people who identify as LGBTQ+. Their safe spaces and social circles removed, with many sitting in homes where they can not connect with others and be true to themselves. This isolation breeds fear in the world that lies ahead and a desperate need to reconnect and build new trust and support relationships. Directed by Catarina de Sousa and Nick Tyson, TRACING UTOPIA allows space for young people to talk and reflect on the world they would like to build. Each young person’s thoughts and feelings on equality, diversity and inclusion surrounded by graphics and animation.

Ideas range from LGBTQ+ history on the school timetable to creating new safe spaces in neighbourhoods. Each viewpoint and opinion valued and heard by the other teenagers remotely surrounding them. The online world briefly and powerfully opened up for teenagers eager to build something better —the result, a positive, creative and deeply moving exploration of teenage LGBTQ+ life, hopes and dreams.”

    - Neil Baker, 21 March 2021, Cinerama Film Online

“Realmente único. Tracing Utopia retrata a un grupo de jóvenes de la comunidad LGBTQ conversando acerca de cómo sería una utopía para ellos, a su vez planteando un manifiesto para la igualdad y el respeto. Es tierno, triste y necesario para nuestro tiempo. Además brinda una mirada honesta de la Generación Z, que puede llegar a sorprender, ya que ha sido una generación muchas veces ridiculizada y vista de menos. Pero que en este documental demuestra sus verdaderos colores. Una generación de personas que buscan un mejor futuro.
El documental cuenta con un formato estupendo, honestamente la primera vez que miro algo así. Utilizar el footage de Minecraft para contar una historia de este potencial es algo único. O al menos para mí lo es.
Las entrevistas con las y los jóvenes del documental se complementan con el footage del videojuego y quien lo ha jugado, entiende perfectamente el por qué de su uso en un cortometraje con la palabra “utopía” en su título.
Catarina y Nick, directores de la película nos dan una propuesta de storytelling hermosa que de seguro será tomada como estándar para muchos. Porque su fuerza y empatía con los personajes y el público es indudable.”

    - Manuel Omar Mejía, 4 February 2021, Simulacro Mag

“My dad said 'he' to me! 'Exclaimed the trans boy. His joy radiates from the screen. Where they first met live, a group of teenagers in New York City now meet each other virtually. The pandemic makes it impossible to create a physical safe space, so an online environment is now being sought. They suddenly agree that there is a great need for these kinds of places.
In the short documentary 'Tracing Utopia', the online safe space is built in the environment of the popular video game Minecraft. Here they create a kind of manifesto for a perfect world in which everyone can be themselves. These video images are interspersed with video calls in which these young people give their vision of the world and explain what needs to change. It's an intimate and refreshing glimpse into the world of what we call Generation Z.
These young people are extremely inspiring with their outspoken visions and hopeful attitude. 'Tracing Utopia' provides the positive vibes that are much needed in these complicated times. Their manifesto, one of them concludes, is a statement for the people of the future. 'We are doing it - the fight for them.'”

    - Zij Aan Zij, February 2021 (Translated from Dutch)

“La primera película que me sorprendió gratamente respecto a lo mencionado es un corto documental llamado Tracing Utopia (2021), dirigido por Nick Tyson y Catarina de Sousa en una coproducción entre Estados Unidos y Portugal. En esta curiosa apuesta, un grupo de adolescentes se pregunta por la posible existencia de una utopía queer.
En esta búsqueda, construyen comunidades virtuales utilizando el famoso videojuego MineCraft, el cual les permite explorar espacios que exceden lo tangible y que, sin embargo, pueden constituirse como lugares de pertenencia afectiva.”

    - Ofelia Meza, Revista Encuadra, 9 February 2021

“The sun is a yellow cube. In the 3D world of the Minecraft video game, it hovers over the other blocks that mark houses, meadows and bees. Although it doesn't rain, many rainbows can be seen under the cube sun. Jay, Raphael, Chase, Asher, and Mars installed all of that. The young people, some of whom define themselves neither as male nor as female, know each other through building and designing together online. There they discuss: unisex toilets, police violence, David Bowie and aliens, playing in the virtual outside while they are actually sitting alone in their rooms, the lack of acceptance by their own parents. "I'm so done with this world. I’ll build my own world “, as one teenager once put it. And nothing less than this queer world structure is shown in the short film Tracing Utopia by Catarina de Sousa and Nick Tyson, which shows scenarios of transition (digital / analog, outside / inside, male / female, young / old) and, appropriately, itself as a small one , but describes a complex construct between tragedy and comedy.
Occasionally de Sousa and Tyson appear in their documentary sketch themselves and in front of the camera. But the adults listen first and foremost, let the young experts have their say, who formulate precise demands on a heteronormative society via manifesto. Tracing Utopia characterizes a specific arrangement of screens of different smartphones, which is supplemented by recordings from the Queer Liberation March 2020 in New York, sometimes by architectures from the Minecraft dimension or the appearances of de Sousa and Tyson. Within this arrangement, the sympathetic speakers gather in a visual, equal side by side, similar to a conference setting in which the audience is only allowed to participate to a limited extent. Tracing Utopia demonstrates principles of invitation and exclusion, withdrawal and appropriation, designs futures and thinks back melancholy; a fascinating, cinematic preoccupation with dreaming spaces.”

    - Anne Küper, 7 February 2021, (Translated from German)