Sundance Unveils Short-Films Lineup

The festival will showcase 60 shorts, with films tackling everything from a soccer match turned deadly to SMILFs to a Ukrainian teen battle to play the role of Oksana Baiul

Wrapping up its series of lineup announcements, the Sundance Film Festival unveiled its slate of short films that will be highlighted next month.

This year’s festival — which runs Jan. 22-Feb. 1 in and around Park City, Utah — will feature 60 short films culled from a record-high 8,061 submissions. Among the highlights are Jennifer Reeder’s A Million Miles Away (screening in the U.S. section) about a woman and a group of teenage girls who simultaneously experience a supernatural coming-of-age, and Mike Forshaw’s Saturday (international), a fictional account of the real-life story of a U.K. soccer match that turned deadly when 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death. And one of the catchiest titles of the festival is Frankie Shaw’s SMILF (U.S.), which centers on a young single mother who struggles to balance her old life of freedom with her new one as mom.

Read more Sundance: Premieres Lineup Courts Controversy

On the documentary front is Kitty Green’s The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul set against the backdrop of an audition to play the role of the famed Olympic figure skater, whose gold medal showing once united the troubled country.

“This year's short filmmakers have broken through their limited timeframe with a high level of artistry and story that will resonate with audiences long after each film has ended,” Sundance senior programmer Mike Plante said.

The full Short Film lineup, presented by YouTube, follows.

U.S. NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Actresses/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeremy Hersh) —The film follows the relationship between a young, aspiring actress and an established off-Broadway star.

A.D. 1363, The End of Chivalry/ U.S.A., New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Jake Mahaffy) —A little-known historical catastrophe leads to the definitive end of the era of chivalry and questing.

Color Neutral/ U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Reeves) —A color explosion sparkles, bubbles, and fractures in this handcrafted 16mm film. Jennifer Reeves utilizes an array of mediums and direct-on-film techniques to create this exuberant, psychedelic morsel of cinema as material.

Dog Bowl/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Gordy Hoffman) —A heartbroken girl spiraling through life stumbles upon the true nature of her existence after stealing the vest off of a service dog.

Hugh the Hunter/ U.S.A. (Director: Zachary Heinzerling, Screenwriters: Zachary Heinzerling, Jesse Soursourian) —This fable, inspired by the artwork of Hugh Hayden, follows a fictitious hunter of the Scottish Highlands on a daylong quest to capture the elusive red grouse.

A Million Miles Away/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jennifer Reeder) —Melancholy as survival strategy: A woman on the edge of failing and a pack of teenage girls simultaneously experience a supernatural coming-of-age. The transformation unravels to the infectious beat of a heavy metal anthem rearranged as a lamentation.

Mulignans/ U.S.A. (Director: Shaka King, Screenwriters: Shaka King, Kristan Sprague) —mulignan(s) /moo.lin.yan(s)/ n. 1. Italian-American slang for a Black man. Derived from Italian dialect word for "eggplant." See also: moolie. Source: Urban Dictionary and pretty much every mob movie ever.

Myrna the Monster/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ian Samuels) —A heartbroken alien dreamer from the moon transitions into young adult life in Los Angeles just like any other 20-something.

Oh Lucy!/ Japan, Singapore, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Atsuko Hirayanagi) —Setsuko, a 55-year-old single so-called office lady in Tokyo, is given a blonde wig and a new identity, “Lucy,” by her young unconventional English-language teacher. "Lucy" awakens desires in Setsuko she never knew existed.

Pink Grapefruit/ U.S.A. (Director: Michael Mohan, Screenwriters: Michael Mohan, Chris Levitus) —A young married couple bring two of their single friends to Palm Springs for a long weekend. It does not go as planned.

Rabbit/ France, U.S.A. (Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Screenwriters: Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre, Brady Corbet, Mona Fastvold) — A therapist working in tandem with a correctional facility’s Pet Partnership Program entrusts a small rabbit to a female prisoner. In the confinement of her cell, will the inmate be able to transcend her circumstances and connect with the animal? 

SMILF/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Frankie Shaw) —A young single mother struggles to balance her old life of freedom with her new one as mom. It all comes to a head during one particular nap-time when Bridgette invites an old friend over for a visit.

Stop/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Reinaldo Marcus Green) —A young man's livelihood is put to the test when he is stopped by the police on his way home.

Superior/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erin Vassilopoulos) —A stranger passing through town sparks a teenage girl's desire to distinguish herself from her identical twin sister. As one sister struggles to break free, the other insists on preserving their distinctive bond.

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Back Alley/ France (Director and screenwriter: Cécile Ducrocq) —Suzanne, a prostitute for 15 years, has her turf, her regular johns, and her freedom. One day, however, young African prostitutes settle nearby, and she is threatened.

The Chicken/ Germany, Croatia (Director and screenwriter: Una Gunjak) —The day-to-day life of a six-year-old girl growing up during unstable times in Sarajevo is shaken up when a chicken joins her family.

Daytimer/ United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Riz Ahmed) —London, 1999: A young boy gives school and home the slip to attend his first daytime rave.

Followers/ United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Tim Marshall) —Lynn, an elderly woman stricken with grief after her husband's death, finds solace in an apparition of Jesus on the swimming trunks of a young gay man at her adult swimming class.

Great Northern Mountain/ Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Amanda Kernell) —Elle, 78, doesn't like Sámi (Laplander) people — even though she is Sámi. Pressured by her son, she returns north for her sister's funeral. When she realizes he's planned for them to stay with their relatives, Elle checks into a hotel.

Greenland/ Israel (Director and screenwriter: Oren Gerner) —Oren packs his belongings at his parents' house before moving in with his girlfriend. Through seemingly simple interactions, family dynamics are revealed. The house constitutes the space in which past, present, and future mix into a chronicle of separation.

Hole/ Canada (Director and screenwriter: Martin Edralin) —A daring portrait of a disabled man yearning for intimacy in a world that would rather ignore him.

I am Hong Kong/ China (Director and screenwriter: Flora Lau) —The recent Umbrella Movement, ignited by the youth of Hong Kong, shows how citizens’ passion and desire for a more fair and just future can bring about a peaceful but powerful social movement, despite criticism, defamation and attacks.

The Little Deputy/ Canada (Director and screenwriter: Trevor Anderson) —Trevor tries to have his photo taken with his father.

Out of Sight/ United Kingdom (Director: Nick Rowland, Screenwriter: Joe Murtagh) —To clear a debt with a loan shark, Martin, a recoverig drug addict, agrees to lock a stranger in his spare room while they go cold turkey. As the days pass, Martin suspects something far worse is at play.

Russian Roulette/ United Kingdom (Director: Ben Aston, Screenwriter: Oli Fenton) —London becomes a little less lonely when Lucy meets a libidinous cosmonaut on Chatroulette.

Saturday/ United Kingdom (Director: Mike Forshaw, Screenwriters: Mike Forshaw, Greg Forshaw) —April 15, 1989: A soccer match changes Liam's life and the city of Liverpool forever… This fictional account relates how the Hillsborough Stadium disaster — which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters — unfolded for a family in Merseyside, England.

Spring/ Mexico (Director and screenwriter: Tania Claudia Castillo) —Elba, an introverted, lonely 14-year-old, wants to bond with her sister Fernanda before she leaves home.

Take Me/ Canada (Directors and screenwriters: Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, André Turpin) —A nurse working at a center for the disabled is confronted by his principles when he’s asked to accomplish a particular task.

VOLTA/ Greece (Director and screenwriter: Stella Kyriakopoulos) —As a mother and daughter start out from downtown Athens, Greece, and head to the northern suburbs, little Nina thinks they're simply going for a walk.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS

The 414s: The Original Teenage Hackers/ U.S.A. (Director: Michael T. Vollmann) —In 1983, a group of Milwaukee teenagers gained notoriety when they broke into dozens of high-profile computer systems. The ensuing media frenzy terrified a nation previously ignorant of the capabilities of computer interconnectivity.

Abandoned Goods/ United Kingdom (Directors: Pia Borg, Edward Lawrenson) —Patients committed to Netherne psychiatric hospital between 1946 and 1981 created an extraordinary collection of artworks in a pioneering studio under artist Edward Adamson. Abandoned Goods is a moving portrait of the little-known history of UK postwar asylum life.

The Collectors: Beekeeping/ U.S.A. (Director: Steven Cantor) —Dennis van Engelsdorp, former state apiarist for Pennsylvania and current entomology professor at the University of Maryland, is worried that bees — a crucial part of humanity's ecosystem — are dying.

Every Day/ U.S.A. (Director: Gabe Spitzer) —At 86, Joy Johnson was the oldest woman to run the 2013 New York City Marathon. The story of an inspiring athlete with an uncommon passion for her sport, and for life.

The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul/ Australia (Director: Kitty Green) —Adorned in pink sequins, little girls from across a divided, war-torn Ukraine audition to play the role of Olympic champion figure skater Oksana Baiul, whose tears of joy once united their troubled country.

Hotel 22/ U.S.A. (Director: Elizabeth Lo) —Each night in Silicon Valley, the Line 22 public bus transforms into an unofficial shelter for the homeless. This film captures one dramatic night on the "Hotel 22" bus.

It's Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise/ U.S.A. (Director: Matt Wolf) —This portrait of Hilary Knight, the artist behind the iconic Eloise books, sees him reflecting on his life as an illustrator and his relationship to his most successful work.

Making it in America/ U.S.A. (Director: Joris Debeij) —A Salvadoran immigrant who fled to the United States as a teenager is now a single mother striving to build a future for her family in Los Angeles.

{THE AND} Marcela & Rock/ U.S.A. (Director: Topaz Adizes) —Exploring the intimate spaces of modern-day relationships, THE AND is the best couples therapy session you'll ever witness.

Midnight Three & Six/ U.S.A. (Director: Joe Callander) —A mother awakens at midnight, 3:00 a.m., and 6:00 a.m. every day so her daughter will wake up in the morning.

Object/ Poland (Director: Paulina Skibińska) —A creative image of an underwater search in the dimensions of two worlds — ice desert and under water — told from the point of view of the rescue team, of the diver, and of the ordinary people waiting on the shore.

One Year Lease/ U.S.A. (Director: Brian Bolster) —In a story told almost entirely through voicemail messages, Brian, Thomas, and Casper endure a year with Rita, their cat-loving landlady.

Papa Machete/ U.S.A. (Director: Jonathan David Kane) —Two hundred years ago, Haitian slaves defeated Napoleon's armies with the same tool used to work the land: the machete. Papa Machete explores a martial art evolved from this victory through the practice of one of its few remaining masters.

Pop-Up Porno: f4m/ Canada (Director: Stephen Dunn) —Pop-up Porno: f4m tells the story of a breast cancer survivor trying to reclaim her sexuality.

Pop-Up Porno: m4f/ Canada (Director: Stephen Dunn) —A painfully illl Dutch Montrealer has to use the bathroom while his date is in the shower.

Pop-Up Porno: m4m/ Canada (Director: Stephen Dunn) —A lonely traveler on a business trip to New York finds himself in a heated Grindr chat with his worst nightmare.

Serenity/ U.S.A. (Director: Jack Dunphy) —An animated memoir recounting first love, addiction, losing one’s virginity, and turning to pizza in times of crisis.

Starting Point/ Poland (Director: Michał Szcześniak) —Aneta rebelled at age 19 and wound up in prison for murder. Nine years later, her daily routine takes her from behind prison walls to a nursing home.

ANIMATED SHORT FILMS

Bath House/ Sweden (Director: Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Screenwriter: Jerker Virdborg) — Six characters meet in a public bathhouse: the pedant bathhouse manager, a couple with a strange way of communicating and a gang with shady intentions. Something goes wrong.

Beach Flags/ France (Director and screenwriter: Sarah Saidan) — Vida, a young Iranian lifeguard, is determined to be the one to participate in an international competition in Australia. However, when Sareh, who is as fast and talented as her, joins the team, Vida faces an unexpected situation.

The Horse Raised By Spheres/ U.S.A., Ireland (Director and screenwriter: David OReilly) — Horse ponders his loneliness.

Mynarski Death Plummet/ Canada (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Rankin) — A completely handmade historical micro-epic combining wartime aviation melodrama with classical and avant-garde animation techniques, Mynarski Death Plummet is a psychedelic photo-chemical war picture on the themes of self-sacrifice, immortality, and jellyfish.

OM Rider/ U.S.A.(Director and screenwriter: Takeshi Murata) — In a vast desert bathed in neon hues, a misfit werewolf tears full speed ahead over forbidding terrain while his hoary counterpart awaits.

Palm Rot/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Gillis) — An old Florida fumigator discovers a mysterious crate in the Everglades that ruins his day.

Storm hits jacket/ France (Director and screenwriter: Paul Cabon) — A storm reaches the shores of Brittany. Nature goes crazy, two young scientists get caught up in the chaos. Espionage, romantic tension and mysterious events clash with enthusiasm and randomness.

The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal/ U.S.A. (Directors: Christina Felisgrau, Ronnie Rivera, Screenwriters: Ronnie Rivera, Bernardo Britto) — A computer and a woman fall in love, only to be torn apart because of their inappropriate feelings for each other.

Symphony no. 42/ Hungary (Director and screenwriter: Réka Bucsi)— The film applies an unconventional narrative. It presents a subjective world through 47 scenes. Small events, interlaced by associations, express the irrational coherence of our surroundings. The surreal situations are based on the interactions of humans and nature.

teeth/ United Kingdom, U.S.A., Hungary (Directors and screenwriters: Daniel Gray, Tom Brown) — Things of worth are often neglected in favor of that which is more immediately gratifying. Unfortunately, things that are neglected are often lost forever. In teeth a misguided and intensely focused man's life is chronicled through his oral obsessions.

Tupilaq/ Denmark (Director and screenwriter: Jakob Maqe) —The Tupilaq is both a symbol of the spirit of a forefather and a curse. This personal and moving short film revolves around the themes of cultural alienation, abuse and the contrast between mythological greenlandic nature and western urban culture.

Two Films About Loneliness/ United Kingdom (Directors and screenwriters: William Bishop-Stephens, Christopher Eales) — A split screen separates the worlds of Jonathan Smallman, who is recording his online dating profile, and Philip Button, Internet chef and hamster, who is noisily recording his new cooking video.

World of Tomorrow/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Don Hertzfeldt) — A little girl is taken on a mind-bending tour of the distant future.

comments powered by Disqus