‘Nepo baby’: Malia Obama's directorial debut invites dismissive critique | Hollywood - Hindustan Times
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‘Nepo baby’: Malia Obama's directorial debut at Sundance invites dismissive critique

Feb 24, 2024 07:33 PM IST

Malia Ann launched her debut short film, The Heart, at the Sundance Film Festival. Reviews weren't as hearty as one would expect.

Foraying into the self-driven professional chapter of her life by launching her directorial debut, The Heart, at the Sundance Film Festival, Malia Obama sought to be seen as her own person. However, the reviews of her short film weren't as heartwarming as one could've foreseen.

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 18: Malia Ann Obama attends the "The Heart" Premiere at the Short Film Program 1 during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival at Prospector Square Theatre on January 18, 2024 in Park City, Utah. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Dia Dipasupil / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA)(Getty Images via AFP)
PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 18: Malia Ann Obama attends the "The Heart" Premiere at the Short Film Program 1 during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival at Prospector Square Theatre on January 18, 2024 in Park City, Utah. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Dia Dipasupil / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA)(Getty Images via AFP)

Earlier this year, Sundance released the "Meet the Artist' snippet, addressing ex-president Barack Obama's eldest daughter as Malia Ann instead. She swore by her professional sobriquet to comply with her full-fledged solo advent. Yet the unsavoury tongue followed her.

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Ann described her 18-minute project in the Sundance video as “about lost objects and lonely people and forgiveness and regret”. Although it settled in sync with the Sundance-approving intellectual tone of aesthetic quiet, it didn't sit well as a whole.

Viewers eventually took to the online movie-buff service Letterboxd to leave their reviews. While a good portion bombed her impersonal attempt at making this film, others' negative outpour was more politically fuelled.

The Heart Reviews: Malia Obama Debut film fails to find approval

Despite the 25-year-old's attempts to distance herself from her family's political baggage, the same rhetoric has dragged her down again. In January 2024, The Daily Beast's Laura Bradley outrightly dismissed her cinematic attempt by calling her out as the “Nepo Baby of the Week” in the ‘Hot Takes’ section.

Also read: Barack Obama's daughter Malia changes her famous surname amid Hollywood career

Yet, in the same vein, the professional reviewer also labelled it fitting for the Sundance platform but forgettable.

Following suit, several reviewers on Letterboxd have treated her with harsh remarks, again reducing her to her nepotistic familial inheritance.

One of the first reviews found on the platform said: “Honoring her father's legacy by dropping a giant bomb and not receiving any criticism for it.”

Another review charged her, slaying her, with nepotism charges: “Calling yourself 'Malia Ann' is not going to avert any Nepo Baby criticisms, Miss Former First Daughter.”

Yet another one rebuffed her cinematic expression with words like, “Can you really be a true indie filmmaker if your dad was President?”

Another review graded Malia's film as a two-star attempt upon seemingly forgetting halfway who'd made the movie, owing to its “half-baked” texture. On the contrary, a reviewer brought in a mixed outlook: "wish this had enough merit to not just be "the short directed by one of obama's kids" but this was just sort of mid. i did like some of the cinematography!"

About the Malia Ann short film

Malia both writes and directs the film, which is centred around a man grieving the sudden death of his mother. As he grapples with the devastating blow, he comes across an unusual request in her will. Tunde Adebimpe and LaTonya Borsay star as the son-mother duo.

Ann's previous filmmaking credits include writing for Donald Glover's Swarm (2021) and interning on shows like Girls and Halle Berry's CBS title Extant.

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