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Sundance Film Festival Director Spotlight: April Maxey

April Maxey | Work | Director

Premieres Jan. 20, 2022

April Maxey is the director behind Work, the short-film premiering at Sundance Jan. 20.

Work follows the life of Gabi, a freelance editor struggling to get over her recent breakup. Acting impulsively, Gabi visits the lap-dance parlor she used to work at, meeting an old and unexpected friend from her past. Work, which developed in AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, is inspired by Maxey’s personal experience as a queer-Chicano woman. Maxey’s work reevaluates the common misconceptions that surround the sex-work industry, dismantling the tropes of naivete and showing the true strength, courage and deliberation that sex-workers have. A deeply personal film, director April Maxey’s Work is currently nominated for Sundance’s 2022 Short Film Grand Jury Prize.

Please tell us the title of your film and your role?

Our film is called Work, and I am the Writer/Director.

What is the film about?

The film follows Gabriela, a young queer Latina freelance editor, as she impulsively goes back to an old job at an underground lap dance party after a rough breakup.

How did you feel when you found out your film would showcase at Sundance?

I was ecstatic and in shock for a few days. Less than 1% of shorts are accepted into Sundance, so it felt in a way like winning the lottery. But also, when we were in post-production over the summer, I had started doing this meditation practice, where I would visualize and embody the feeling of certain things I wanted to happen in my life. And I remember one of the visualizations I had was of this moment of calling Melinda, our DP, and Skylar Andrews, our producer, and telling them we got into Sundance, and feeling the joy of that moment. It’s not something I ever told anyone I imagined, so when I got to call them both in real life, it felt like a full-circle moment. It’s a moment I will always remember. I am so grateful that all of the work we put in can be seen at this level now.

What do you hope audiences take from watching your movie?

For me, it is a film about learning to let go of a past version of oneself, however messy and complicated that may be, and the process of moving forward. I hope that audiences can in some way relate or feel connected to this character, as she is on this journey, even though it might not be a world they are familiar with. It is hard to let go sometimes of an old chapter of your life or to accept that it is over, because change is scary and we don’t know what we will face in the next chapter. But I hope the end of the film leaves the audience with a sense of hope and that Gabriela will be okay as she finds this moment of peace in her solitude. I also hope it might encourage the audience to begin to understand the sex industry in a more nuanced way, which allows for all of the complexity of the people who work in that world.

How can our readers stay up to date with your career via social media?

My Instagram is @amaxey422 and the Instagram for the short film is @workshortfilm

Learn more about the Sundance Film Festival by visiting

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