ShortList 2020: 'Sticker' Puts Underdog Against Police Brutality

Macedonian film follows a father stuck in a dark comedy of errors

“Sticker” may have been filmed in Macedonia, but during an American summer marked by protests against police brutality, its story about a father struggling against bureaucracy and corrupt cops gains a global resonance.

But for director Georgi M. Unkovski, it wasn’t current events that inspired his film, a finalist in TheWrap’s 2020 ShortList Film Festival. It was his love of the underdog.

“I’m always fascinated by stories about people simply trying to get by but society set them up to fail,” Unkovski told TheWrap. “I think what people really latch onto with this film is how we as individuals have to struggle against these huge bureaucratic forces.”

“Sticker” follows Dejan, a beleaguered father trying to get to his daughter’s dance recital…only to end up in an escalating crisis thanks to a simple office error. Stumbling through an overcrowded DMV office, he is told that the office has run out of stickers for vehicle registration. Despite being assured by a dismissive clerk that the police know they’re out of stickers, Dejan soon finds himself pulled over by a cop in search of a murderer and plunged into a world of law enforcement that isn’t particularly interested in protecting or serving.

Unkovski says that the story started with the minor irritation of vehicle registration renewal, but says he was surprised by how many viewers who have seen his film were able to personally empathize with that frustration. “I was surprised to find that even people in the U.S. were able to identify with his struggle,” he said. “The first scene is taken as-is from real life. Everybody here [in Macedonia] has their own stories about struggling with bureaucracy.”

Unkovski also recognizes that the global Black Lives Matter protests put Dejan’s abuse at the hands of police in a new context, even if “Sticker” isn’t a film about racist police violence.

“We weren’t even thinking about such issues when we were shooting, but ironically it’s been a fitting year for our film to come out,” he says. “Obviously, once you put a film out it stops just belong to you, but there are stories of injustice everywhere and its easy to connect to them. I think a lot of people feel alone in fights against injustice and I like exploring that in my films.”

Watch the film above. Viewers can also screen the films at any time during the festival at Shortlistfilmfestival.com and vote from Aug. 6-19.

The Scene at ShortList 2019: TheWrap's 8th Annual Short Film Festival (Photos)

  • In the top row, ShortList 2019 filmmakers, from left to right: “Hula Girl” directors Amy Hill and Chris Reiss, “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa, “Sister” director Siqi Song, “How Does It Start” director Amber Sealey and “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez.

    In the lower row, TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman, ShortList host Harvey Guillen, “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas,  “No Sanctuary” producer Moriah Hall, “Departing Gestures” co-directors Brian Bolster and Jonathan Napolitano and TheWrap writer Steve Pond.

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  • ShortList filmmakers attended the ShortList opening night dinner, presented by Amazon Alexa, on Wednesday, August 21 at Eveleigh West Hollywood.

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  • TheWrap awards editor Steve Pond, “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas and TheWrap head of operations Claude Memmi at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • Guests enjoyed an intimate evening of dinner and conversation at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • We’re Magnetic global director of consumer research and insights Rachel Krautkremer, “How Does it Start” director Amber Sealey, Amazon head of entertainment & culture, XCM Andrew Saunders and Endeavor (WME-IMG) senior global marketing manager Alexandra Stabler at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez, “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa and “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas speaks at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman speaks with ShortList filmmakers and jurors at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • “What We Do in the Shadows” star and ShortList host Harvey Guillen poses with TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman.

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  • “Departing Gesture” producers Thomas Harrington, Brian Bolster, Jonathan Napolitano and Kayleigh Napolitano.

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  • ShortList jurors Landon Zakheim, Todd Berger, Wendy Guerrero, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Steve Pond, Gena Konstantinakos, Orlando von Einsiedel, Sharon Waxman and Tristen Tuckfield.

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  • Host Harvey Guillen and jury member and actress Marsha Stephanie Blake.

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  • “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, “How Does it Start” director Amber Sealey and “Departing Gesture” co-director Brian Bolster.

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  • “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” composer Britta Phillips, director A.M. Lukas, and cinematographer Meena Singh.

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  • “Sister” director Siqi Song.

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  • “What We Do in the Shadows” star Harvey Guillen, while hosting at the ShortList ceremony.

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  • The ShortList 2019 jury panel.

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  • Jurors Tristen Tuckfield, Gena Konstantinakos and Todd Berger.

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  • Director & co-founder of Grain Media Orlando von Einsiedel speaks during the jury panel.

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  • Jurors Wendy Guerrero, executive vice president of 30West Tristen Tuckfield, and Gena Konstantinakos.

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  • Gena Konstantinakos, vice president of Development & Video Programing of Topic.

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  • Jurors Gena Konstantinakos, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Wendy Guerrero.

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  • Guests mingle with food and drinks at the W Hotel Hollywood.

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  • ShortList film curator Landon Zakheim.

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  • Guests chat with wine in hand at the W Hotel Hollywood.

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  • Steve Pond introduces ShortList finalists during the filmmakers panel

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  • “Sister” director Siqi Sing, “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, and “How Does It Start” director Amber Sealey

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  • (L-R), “Departing Gesture” co-directors Jonathan Napolitano and Brian Bolster, Siqi Song

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  • “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa

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  • “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas

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  • Senior Vice President Original Programming of Starz Karen Bailey announces the finalists for Telling Our Stories, a new film competition by Starz and WrapWomen

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  • “No Sanctuary” takes the student prize, accepted by producer Moriah Hall

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  • “Departing Gesture” takes the audience prize, accepted by the co-directors Jonathan Napolitano and Brian Bolster

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  • “Enforcement Hours” takes the industry prize, accepted by director Paloma Martinez

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  • Guests mingle at the W Hotel Hollywood

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  • Guests pose for pictures after the awards ceremony

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  • (L-R) Senior Vice President Original Programming of Starz Karen Bailey, “No Sanctuary” producer Moriah Hall and Sharon Waxman

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  • Sharon Waxman and “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez

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  • “Departing Gesture” directors Brian Bolster and Jonathan Napolitano

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Finalists and jurors come together to celebrate this year’s finalists

In the top row, ShortList 2019 filmmakers, from left to right: “Hula Girl” directors Amy Hill and Chris Reiss, “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa, “Sister” director Siqi Song, “How Does It Start” director Amber Sealey and “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez.

In the lower row, TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman, ShortList host Harvey Guillen, “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas,  “No Sanctuary” producer Moriah Hall, “Departing Gestures” co-directors Brian Bolster and Jonathan Napolitano and TheWrap writer Steve Pond.

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