Chilean-bred, New York-based director, Sebastián Silva is back at Sundance with his sixth film after achieving the unfathomable feat of releasing two features simultaneously back in 2013; both of which, incidentally, premiered at that year’s edition of the festival, with Crystal Fairy and the Magic Cactus picking up the Directing Award in the World Cinema: Dramatic category. His latest, Nasty Baby, stars Silva himself in his first turn as a lead actor, alongside Kristin Wiig and Tunde Adebimpe, with an appearance from Alia Shawkat, aka Maebe Fünke (coming on the heels of two films starring Michael Cera, it seems Silva’s a bit of an Arrested Development fan).
Filled with its fair-share of autobiography, Nasty Baby tells the story of Freddy, a Brooklyn based artist who lives an idyllic life with his partner Mo (played by Adibimpe), while simultaneously trying to impregnate his best friend, Polly (Wiig). Between one thing and another, Freddy spends his days preparing a new art installation in which he imitates a baby, while a screwy neighbor sows disharmony on the block with his increasingly off-kilter antics. The loose, improvisational feel that has come to define Silva’s work is on display yet again in Nasty Baby, as is his love for 180-degree “didn’t-see-that-coming” endings.
While this American production won’t qualify for the World Cinema category that has shown so much love for him in past editions (his other award in the category was for 2009’s La Nana), Silva has clearly established himself as el consentido at Sundance, and another award definitely wouldn’t come as a surprise.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Silva and his co-stars took some time to talk about their experience on the shoot. With Silva’s sense of humor on full display, the good-natured conversation covered everything from the complexities of acting in your own film, weird actors and mutant deer. Summing up the feature as being about “parenthood and gentrification and mental illnesses and the absurdity of the art world in New York,” Silva revealed how even a small, unpretentious film can be packed with big ideas.