Sundance Institute Labs and Tribeca Film Institute alum Vuk Lungulov-Klotz made a great first impression at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival with his debut feature, Mutt, a contemplative and heartfelt drama following a young trans man throughout New York City as he reconnects with family members and a former lover.
We meet Feña (Lío Mehiel) at a club when he spots John, who came back to town to take care of his sick mother. We learn the two dated before Feña’s transition, and it seems they just might rekindle what they once had together, but John goes back and forth coming to terms with the changes. Meanwhile, Feña plans to pick up his father, Pablo, who is flying in from Chile to visit and would prefer to continue seeing Feña as his daughter, Fernanda. Between these reunions, Feña’s younger sister, Zoe, skips school to join him in the city, unbeknownst to his estranged mother.
“She forced me out of your life,” Feña tells Zoe. Tense scenes like Feña and Zoe discussing why he left home make smooth transitions to sweet, tender moments and some humorous mishaps.
No doubt Lungulov-Klotz, who is Chilean-Serbian, trans and partly raised in New York, writes authenticity into Feña’s experiences. Mutt takes us all around the city — the subway, playing basketball, escaping the rain at a 24-hour laundromat. We are also with Feña in awkward moments at the bank and pharmacy, trying to field inappropriate questions like “Do you have a dick now?” and we realize the point he tries to explain to those he loves: he is who he always has been. And who is that person? A down-to-earth, likable guy you begin to cheer for.
Feña, to be completely honest, I don’t think John deserves you.
Mehiel won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for acting in Mutt. While it’s too late to see it again at Sundance, we’re confident it will resurface like the ghosts of Feña’s past again soon.