2013 Sundance Film Festival Announces Short Film Program
I must admit that I didn’t have any real expectations about the just-announced shorts lineup at the forthcoming Sundance Film Festival, but this slate looks really strong, a good mixture of familiar names (many with feature experience) and emerging talents. Scanning through the selection, I’m excited to see new works by Cat Candler, Nash Edgerton and Spencer Susser, Guillermo Arriaga, Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva (from 2012’s “25 New Faces”), Lauren Wolkstein, Goran Dukic and Damien Chazelle in the U.S. narrative section. And kudos to a “25 New Face” from 2010, Robert Machoian, who has two shorts — Movies Made From Home # 6 and Movies Made From Home # 15 — playing in that same strand.
In the other sections, I’ll be trying to catch shorts by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Albert Maysles, Julia Pott (another of this year’s “25 New Faces”), Athina Rachel Tsangari, Michael Almereyda and Kevin Jerome Emerson, plus there’s more to look out from Morgan Spurlock, Dash Shaw, Yung Jake and Romola Garai.
U.S. NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
The Apocalypse / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Zuchero) — Four uninspired friends try to come up with a terrific idea for how to spend their Saturday afternoon.
Black Metal / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kat Candler) — After a career spent mining his music from the shadows, one fan creates a chain reaction for the lead singer of a black metal band.
Boneshaker / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Frances Bodomo) — An African family lost in America travels to a Louisiana church to find a cure for its problem child.
Broken Night / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Guillermo Arriaga) — A young woman and her four-year-old daughter drive across desolated hills. Everything looks fine and they seem to enjoy the ride, until an accident sends them into the nightmare of darkness.
The Captain / Australia, U.S.A. (Directors: Nash Edgerton, Spencer Susser, Screenwriters: Nash Edgerton, Spencer Susser, Taika Waititi) — A man wakes up with a hangover, only to discover the consequences of his actions.
The Cub / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Riley Stearns) — Wolves make the best parents.
GUN / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Spencer Gillis) — Roy purchases a handgun to protect his wife and newborn baby after a terrifying home invasion. The newfound sense of power Roy feels carrying the weapon becomes an obsession, leading him down a reckless path that may have tragic consequences.
Karaoke! / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew F. Renzi) — On a night out in New York City, a young man tries to avoid his problems.
K.I.T. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Morgan) — A guilt-ridden, but well-intentioned, yuppie goes to great lengths to prove she is a decent person.
Movies Made From Home # 6 / U.S.A. (Director: Robert Machoian) — Debbie is good at playing hide and seek – so good she is often hard to find.
Movies Made From Home # 15 / U.S.A. (Director: Robert Machoian) — Robert attempts to keep himself healthy and fit so he can live as long as possible, unaware of what that really means.
Palimpsest / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Tyburski, Screenwriters: Michael Tyburski, Ben Nabors) — A successful house tuner provides clients with a unique form of therapy that examines subtle details in their living spaces.
#PostModem / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva) — A comedic, satirical, sci-fi pop musical based on the theories of Ray Kurzweil and other futurists, #PostModem is the story of two Miami girls and how they deal with technological singularity, as told through a series of cinematic tweets.
Record/Play / U.S.A. (Director: Jesse Atlas, Screenwriters: Aaron Wolfe, Jesse Atlas) — War, fate and a broken Walkman transcend time and space in this sci-fi love story.
Skin / U.S.A. (Director: Jordana Spiro, Screenwriters: Jordana Spiro, David Pablos) — A young taxidermist and small town loner is entranced by a girl who finds his work beautiful. Just as their relationship begins to progress, he does something that drastically changes everything.
Social Butterfly / France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lauren Wolkstein) — When a 30-year-old American woman attends a teenage party in the south of France, guests wonder who she is and what she is doing there.
What Do We Have in Our Pockets? / Israel, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Goran Dukic) — A most unusual love story unravels when the objects in a young man’s pockets come to life. Based on a short story by Etgar Keret.
Whiplash / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Damien Chazelle) — An aspiring drummer enters an elite conservatory’s top jazz orchestra.
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
The Companion / Peru (Director and screenwriter: Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio) — On the outskirts of Lima, a young prostitute tends to his father, a fallen-from-grace artisan. However, the young man feels that his efforts are never enough. He tries to break free, but his father’s dependence is stronger than his son’s will.
The Curse / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Fyzal Boulifa) — Fatine has ventured far from the village to meet her older lover. When a small boy catches her, all she wants to do is go home.
The Date / Finland (Director and screenwriter: Jenni Toivoniemi) — Tino’s manhood is put to the test in front of two women when he has to host a date for Diablo, the family’s stud cat.
Le Futur Proche / Canada (Director: Sophie Goyette, Screenwriters: Sophie Goyette, Madeleine David) — A French immigrant pilot receives an unexpected phone call that changes his life forever. He must deal with the emotional consequences of the call while still completing his work duties in this impressionistic depiction of an all-but-ordinary day.
Jonah / Tanzania, United Kingdom (Director: Kibwe Tavares, Screenwriter: Jack Thorne) — When two young men photograph a gigantic fish leaping from the sea, their small town becomes a tourist attraction in this story about the old and the new.
Magnesium / Netherlands (Director: Sam de Jong, Screenwriter: Shady El-Hamus) — A talented gymnast makes a life-changing discovery as she prepares for an important tournament, which is her last chance to reach the top.
Night Shift / New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Zia Mandviwalla) — Salote, an airport cleaner, starts another long night shift. She keeps her head down, does her job, and gleans the means for her survival from what others leave behind.
On Suffocation / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Jenifer Malmqvist) — This dialogue-free film about an execution describes what happens when the system becomes more important than human life.
Scrubber / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Romola Garai) — A mysterious and disturbing suburban narrative about a listless young mother who is torn between family duty and self-serving fantasies.
The Song of the Mechanical Fish / Russian Federation (Director and screenwriter: Philipp Yuryev) — A fisherman who lives in a deserted village in the far north receives an invitation to the wedding of a son he has never seen and decides to make a redemptive journey.
Summer Vacation / Israel (Directors: Sharon Maymon, Tal Granit, Screenwriters: Tal Granit, Sharon Maymon) — The family summer vacation: sea, sun and sand, and all Yuval wants is to get the heck out of there.
Today and Tomorrow / Netherlands (Director: Aaron Douglas Johnston, Screenwriter: Jesse van’t Hull) — Iranian and Afghani political refugees make a life for themselves in Holland as they anxiously await word if they will be granted political asylum or sent back to their native countries.
Volume / United Kingdom (Director: Mahalia Belo, Screenwriter: Ingeborg Topsøe) — Sam’s perfectly polished world is upended when Georgina goes missing. As everyone acts like nothing has happened, Sam drifts back into his memories of Georgina and realizes he may know more than he wants to remember.
You Are More Than Beautiful / China, Hong Kong (Director: Tae-yong Kim) — A man arrives in beautiful Jeju Island and pays a woman to act as his partner while he visits his ill father in this tale of beauty among base human acts.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS
30% (Women and Politics in Sierra Leone) / United Kingdom, Sierra Leone (Director: Anna Cady) — Oil-painted animation brings to life the stories of three powerful women in postconflict Sierra Leone, revealing the violence and corruption women face as they fight for fairer representation in the governance of their country.
The Battle of amfAR / U.S.A. (Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Screenwriter: Sharon Wood) — When AIDS strikes, two very different women – Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim – join forces to create America’s first AIDS research foundation. The fight against HIV/AIDS has never been the same.
Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? / U.S.A.(Director: Jason Willis) — Catnip is all the rage with today’s modern feline, but do we really understand it? This film frankly discusses the facts about this controversial substance.
Endless Day / Germany (Director: Anna Frances Ewert) — For most people, sleep comes naturally, but for others, the night turns into an ongoing struggle to drift off into oblivion. This film explores what it’s like to be awake involuntarily and the feelings that accompany the passing of sleepless time.
Fall to Grace / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandra Pelosi) — Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey famously resigned from office after declaring himself “a gay American.” Since then, he has continued to use his connections to help rehabilitate women and to make peace with his journey from married governor to gay suburban priest.
Irish Folk Furniture / Ireland (Director: Tony Donoghue) — In Ireland, old hand-painted furniture is often associated with hard times, with poverty, and with a time many would rather forget. In this animated documentary, 16 pieces of traditional folk furniture are repaired and returned home.
Outlawed in Pakistan / Pakistan, U.S.A. (Directors: Habiba Nosheen, Hilke Schellmann) — Kainat Soomro, a Pakistani teenager, accuses four men from her village of gang-raping her. She takes her case to the Pakistani courts and faces a deeply flawed criminal-justice system.
Paraíso / U.S.A. (Director: Nadav Kurtz) — Three immigrant window cleaners risk their lives every day rappelling down some of Chicago’s tallest skyscrapers. Paraíso reveals the danger of their job and what they see on the way down.
The Roper / U.S.A. (Director: Ewan McNicol) — A black man with hip-hop and zydeco roots hard grafts through the local, all-white rodeo circuits in the Deep South, as he dreams of competing in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
The Secret of Trees / U.S.A. (Director: Albert Maysles) — What do trees know that we don’t? Thirteen-year-old inventor Aidan has discovered that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. Now he wonders why we don’t collect solar energy in the same way.
Skinningrove / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Almereyda) — Photographer Chris Killip shares unpublished images chronicling time spent among the fiercely independent residents of a remote English fishing village.
A Story for the Modlins / Spain (Director: Sergio Oksman, Screenwriter: Sergio Oksman) —The tale of Elmer Modlin, who, after appearing in Rosemary’s Baby, fled with his family to a far-off country and shut himself away in a dark apartment for 30 years.
When the Zombies come / U.S.A. (Director: Jon Hurst) — At a remote hardware store, fans of the walking dead have turned their love of zombies into an obsession, warping the way they see the store and its customers.
The Whistle / Poland (Director: Grzegorz Zariczny) — Marcin, a lowest-leagues football referee who lives in a small town near Krakow, dreams of better times. At his mother’s urging, he decides to change his life and find himself a girlfriend and a better job.
You Don’t Know Jack / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Spurlock) — Jack Andraka, a high school sophomore, has developed a revolutionary new test for pancreatic cancer, proving the future of science is in the hands of our youth.
ANIMATED SHORT FILMS
Benjamin’s Flowers / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Malin Erixon) — Lovelorn and lonely Benjamin lives on the blurry borderline between fantasy and reality.
Bite of the Tail / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Song E Kim) — Life is a constant struggle for a husband and wife. She is suffering from stomach pain, and the doctor has no clue about a cure. Meanwhile, her husband is on his own journey of hunting a snake.
The Event / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Julia Pott, Screenwriter: Tom Chivers) — Love and a severed foot at the end of the world.
Feral / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Sousa) — A solitary hunter finds a wild boy in the woods and brings him back to civilization. Alienated by his strange new environment, the boy tries to adapt by using the same strategies that kept him safe in the forest.
In Hanford / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chris Mars) — This heartbreaking true story of a town poisoned by Cold War–era nuclear-arms manufacture is told through firsthand accounts and fantasy scenes, which empathize with the victim’s plight.
Marcel, King of Tervuren / U.S.A. (Director: Tom Schroeder, Screenwriter: Ann Berckmoes) — In this Greek tragedy – as acted out by Belgian roosters – Marcel survives the bird flu, alcohol, sleeping pills and his son, Max.
Oh Willy… / Belgium, France, Netherlands (Directors and screenwriters: Marc James Roels, Emma De Swaef) — Willy returns to his naturalist roots as he bungles his way into noble savagery.
Seraph / U.S.A. (Director: Dash Shaw, Screenwriters: John Cameron Mitchell, Dash Shaw) — A boy’s childhood scars his life.
Thank You / U.S.A. (Directors: Pendleton Ward, Tom Herpich, Screenwriters: Pendleton Ward, Tom Herpich) — A pack of fire wolves attack a snow golem in the forest and accidentally leave a cub behind after their retreat. The golem’s life is thrown into chaos as he attempts to reunite the cub with its family.
Tram / France, Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Michaela Pavlátová) — The humdrum daily routine of a tram conductress is jolted when the vibrations and rhythm of the road turn her on and take her on an erotic and surrealistic fantasy journey.
NEW FRONTIER SHORT FILMS
An electrifying celebration of innovation in filmmaking, these New Frontier shorts energize the mind through bold aesthetics and thought-provoking content.
The Capsule / Greece (Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari, Screenwriters: Athina Rachel Tsangari, Aleksandra Waliszewska) — Seven young women. A mansion perched on a Cycladic rock. A series of lessons on discipline, desire, discovery, and disappearance. A melancholy, inescapable cycle on the brink of womanhood – infinitely.
Century / U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Jerome Everson) — Filmed in Charlottesville, Virginia, and starring a General Motors automobile – the titular brown Buick Century – meeting its fate.
Datamosh / U.S.A. (Director: Yung Jake) — A contemporary rap video that explores the glitchy video art trend “datamoshing”. All geeked up, Yung Jake glitches out your computer and celebrates nerdiness and getting money.
Iyeza / South Africa (Director and screenwriter: Kudzanai Chiurai) — An allegory of the Last Supper depicting the establishment of a new nation-state, Kudzanai Chiurai’s Iyeza explores the African condition by juxtaposing the past and the present of a continent in the grip of violent civil wars.
Primate Cinema: Apes As Family / Scotland, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rachel Mayeri) — Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, like to watch television. What would a film made expressly for chimps look like? Created with a primatologist and actors in chimp suits, a primate drama is presented to chimpanzees at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Reindeer / United Kingdom (Director: Eva Weber) — A lyrical and haunting portrait of reindeer herding in the twilight expanses of the Lapland wilderness.
Sirocco / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Hisham Bizri) — A detective is sent to the desert to investigate a murder only to find out he’s been investigating his own death.
Until the Quiet Comes / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kahlil Joseph) — Shot in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects in Watts, Los Angeles, this film deals with themes of violence, camaraderie and spirituality through the lens of magical realism.