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Malia Obama makes red carpet debut at Sundance Film Festival

Eldest daughter of former US president Barack Obama screened her short film ‘The Heart’ at Utah film festival

Meredith Clark
New York
Friday 19 January 2024 17:09 GMT
Related: Barack Obama reveals Malia’s boyfriend quarantined with the family

Malia Obama has made her red carpet debut at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, where she premiered her new short film The Heart.

The 25-year-old daughter of former United States president Barack Obama attended the annual Utah-based film festival on 18 January. Malia directed and wrote the screenplay for the 18-minute short, which was submitted under her first and middle names, Malia Ann.

For her first red carpet appearance - which took place at the Prospector Square Theater in Park City, Utah - she looked cosy in a long, grey wool coat with a blue-striped button-down shirt underneath and black leggings. Malia paired the festival attire with a thin grey scarf wrapped around her neck and some Doc Martens combat boots.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Heart - which stars Tunde Adebimpe, Latonya Borsay, and was produced by Ayesha Nadarajah - is about a grieving man who receives an unusual request from his mother in her will.

“The film is about lost objects and lonely people and forgiveness and regret, but I also think it works hard to uncover where tenderness and closeness can exist in these things,” said Malia in a “Meet the Artist” video from the festival. “We hope you enjoy the film and it makes you feel a bit less lonely, or at least reminds you not to forget about the people who are.”

Malia Obama attends the ‘The Heart’ premiere at 2024 Sundance Film Festival on 18 January 2024 in Park City, Utah (Getty Images)

After graduating from Harvard University in 2021, the eldest daughter of former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama worked as a writer on the Prime Video series Swarm, produced by Donald Glover. She also worked as an intern on the HBO series Girls, as well as a production assistant on the TV series Extant, starring Halle Berry.

In addition to daughter Malia, the couple are also parents to 22-year-old daughter Sasha, who graduated from the University of Southern California in May with a degree in sociology.

The longtime couple have often shared details about their two grown-up daughters. Back in 2022, Michelle revealed her daughters moved in together and were sharing a home in Los Angeles, California. In an interview with People, the Light We Carry author detailed her reaction to her daughters’ announcement, explaining that she tried not to overly express her excitement.

“You try not to react too much because it’s like, you don’t want to go: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so happy for you!’ because then they think: ‘Well, maybe this is not a good thing if my mom likes it,’” Michelle told the outlet at the time. “So I just said, okay, well that’s interesting that you guys are going to try living together. We’ll see how it goes.’ But yeah, it feels good to know that the two girls you raised find solace at a kitchen table with one another. It’s like the one thing you want for them.”

Michelle later shared that her daughters even invited her and her husband over for drinks at their home one evening, but they had made cocktails that were “a bit too weak” for her taste. “We were going to take them out for dinner, and they said: ‘Why don’t you come over to our spot for cocktails?’” she told Today show co-hosts Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb. “And we were like: ‘Okay, let’s see what this is going to be about.’”

She poked fun at her children’s cocktail making skills, adding: “Well the martinis were a little weak, so I don’t think they really knew what it was.”

The 60-year-old attorney went on to share what she “loves the most” about her children’s relationship is that they are “each other’s best friends”, although there was a “period of time when they couldn’t stand each other”.

“I said: ‘You wait. You are going to wake up one day and you are going to look over at that other person and know that you two share something very unique,’ especially given what they’ve been through,” Michelle recalled, before emphasising her happiness about her daughters looking out for each other: “And to see them in that place where they’re one another’s support systems and they’ve got each other’s backs, is just, it’s the thing that a mother would want.”

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