Lio Mehiel’s Historic Sundance Win Is A Big Deal, And Here’s Why

When I reviewed “Mutt” for /Film, I wrote about how captivating and natural Lío Mehiel’s performance in the movie was. Unfortunately, as the festival continued, it seemed like fewer and fewer people were talking about it online, so I never expected it to be a Sundance award recipient.

When I say it wasn’t reviewed or covered often, I mean it. There are only seven reviews of “Mutt” currently on Rotten Tomatoes, mine included, while other titles in the category such as “Fair Play” have around 30 or 40. While it makes sense that the movies with more recognizable faces or directors will get the most festival coverage, it all too often results in the snubbing of smaller independent films screening alongside them. “Mutt” deserved the initial coverage given to its more mainstream competitors, and not entirely because of its subject matter. It’s just a good movie with an incredible lead performance, which was thankfully recognized by Sundance themselves.

Expanding critical horizons at film festivals is always going to be difficult, and we writers are always going to miss one thing or another. No one is infallible, and it’s unrealistic to expect any one writer or outlet to cover every single film in competition. No one can watch everything, but we can make the effort to put a critical spotlight on movies that don’t have big stars or distributors already behind them. That way, more underseen gems like “Mutt” and Lío Mehiel’s phenomenal performance can get the recognition they deserve.

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