The roster of 83 short films that will screen at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival (January 17 – 27) were chosen from a record 5,100 entries, festival organizers noted on Wednesday. That marks a 15% jump in submissions over last year. Sundance organizers are touting a roster that they say is the festival’s strongest yet. Talking with indieWIRE today, Sundance senior programmer Trevor Groth said that taken as a whole, the shorts seem to have taken “an evolutionary leap forward” this year, with even the work coming from film schools havin a, “maturity that I had not seen before.” He added that Sundance’s international entries are stronger than ever.
During the conversation with indieWIRE, Groth noted that there were more than 300 shorts recommended to screen at the festival by the Sundance short film programming team, making the process of narrowing that list down to 83 an incredibly difficult one. The festival recently expanded its programming team to include five short film programmers who work with Groth to craft the roster.
This year a number of Sundance shorts will again be available online in an expanding program to make the films accessible for download. Titles will be streamed on the Sundance website and also sold for $1.99 via Apple‘s iTunes Movie Store and Microsoft‘s Xbox LIVE, while they will be available for free via the Netflix member website. The films will run simultaneously on all three platforms beginning January 18, 2008 and continuing through 2011.
With the number of quality of short films steadily increasing each year, Sundance organizers are considering ways to expand their short film offerings in the future. On the table are everything from more short film programs during Sundance, to a standalone short film festival.
“There are too many good films and talented filmmakers out there to not lend the Sundance name and try to support them,” Trevor Groth told indieWIRE.
The complete Sundance Film Festival short film lineup.
“Acquarium,” Director: Rob Meyer
At fifteen, David and his two buddies are the youngest members of the Boston Aquarium Society. The three make their way to a monthly meeting, but David has a secret he is reluctant to share.
“By Modern Measure,” Director: Matthew Lessner
As part of an ongoing, unaired TV series, an amateur French sociologist presents his observations on a day in the life of two young Americans who meet by chance outside a Taco Bell on October 8, 2006.
“Chief” (Director: Brett Wagner)
Semu Fatutoa drives a taxi in Honolulu, Hawaii, slowly forgetting his old life as a tribal Chief in Samoa. Little does he know, his old life is looking for him.
“The Deep,” Director: Alex Haworth
A journey unravels through the thoughts of a solitary character in the heart of a future dystopia. As he journeys deep underground, he tends to the machines that fuel the surface city. His jobs are precise, almost compulsive, and he is unable to stop.
“Dog Lovers,” Director: Danny Roew, Screenwriters: Tonya Cornelisse, Graham Sibley
Two potential lovers meet to talk about their affection for dogs.
“The Execution of Solomon Harris,” Director: Wyatt Garfield, Ed Yonaitis; Screenwriters: Ed Yonaitis
An electric chair execution fails, delivering a non-lethal jolt of electricity that leaves the prisoner screaming in pain. Protocol and routine fail to provide a resolution, and the warden has to cope with the human dilemma that falls into his hands.
“FCU: Fact Checkers Unit,” Director: Dan Beers; Screenwriters: Dan Beers, Peter Karinen, Brian Sacca
After being assigned to check a bizarre fact about Bill Murray’s love for drinking milk, two magazine fact checkers break into Bill’s house to spy on him. Cast: Bill Murray
“Force 1 TD,” Director: Randy Krallman
Three friends, one of whom is visually impaired and has a miniature guide horse named Carmine, set off to find Carmine a very special pair of sneakers for a very special occasion.
“Inertia,” Director: Jake Mahaffy
This film documents a motion study of a man running as hard and as long as he can in a full suit of smithied High Middle Age armor.
“Lloyd Neck,” Director: Benedict Campbell
Alex has a crush on her brother’s friend, Jesse. But Jesse likes Alex’s brother, Taylor. Alex knows something is up with her brother. Caught in an awkward position, Taylor takes Alex and Jesse to his favorite spot.
“The Loss of a Wrestling Match,” Director: Jed Cowley
So far in the season, Don has a 9-0 record. He is perfect, but in the upcoming duel he has to wrestle a higher-ranked opponent.
“Man,” Director: Myna Joseph
Maggie and her sister form an unusual bond during an encounter with a young man.
“The Mark,” Director: Thomas Barndt
A lawyer rents a room to a human lightning bolt.
“On the Assassination of the President,” Director: Adam Keker
A top-secret government file, only to be viewed in the event of the President’s death by assassination, gives specific instructions on what should be done, and presents dossiers on the three most likely suspects.
“Pariah,” Director: Dee Rees
A Bronx lesbian teenager juggles multiple identities to avoid rejection from friends and family, but pressures from home, school, and within corrode the line between her dual personas with an explosive consequence.
“The Rambler,” Director: Calvin Reeder
A stranger takes to the lonely highway with his guitar and traveling sack.
“A Relationship in Four Days,” Director: Peter Glanz
Coming from a wealthy family, Paul recently turned 30 and has never had, or needed a real job. Lost in his own imagination, he often preaches his grand ideas, but in reality never does much… until he meets Sabine.
“The Second Line,” Director: John Magary
After MacArthur’s savings are stolen from his FEMA trailer, he and his cousin Natt take work gutting a house.
“Sick Sex,” Director: Justin Nowell
Ken wants sex. Amanda is sick.
“Sikumi (On the Ice),” Director: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean
An Inuit hunter takes his dog team out on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals, and inadvertently becomes a witness to a murder.
“Sunlit Shadows,” Director: Benjamin M. Piety
A visual mix tape highlighting the simultaneous holding on to-and letting go of-lost love. Told through the songs and moments of a simple lazy morning.
“Welcome,” Director: Kirsten Dunst
A frightened Cynthia and her family encounter a ghost when moving into a house. What seems to be a threat soon becomes someone with whom to share their home. Cast: Winona Rider
“Carlin,” Director: Brent Green
A diabetic Aunt moves in with her family to hasten her own death. This stop-motion piece uses life-sized wooden characters and taxidermied chickens, set in the farmhouse of the filmmaker’s childhood.
“La Corona” (The Crown), Directors: Amanda Micheli, Isabel Vega
The contestants are murderers, guerillas, and thieves. The winner will be crowned Queen, but she won’t be invited on a press tour as a role model for young girls. Instead, she will be escorted back to her cell.
“Green Porno,” Director: Isabella Rossellini
A series about the sex lives of bugs, insects, and various creatures. The films are a comical, but insightful study of the curious ways that “bugs” make love. Cast: Isabella Rossellini
“kids + money,” Director: Lauren Greenfield
Money talks. Teens in Los Angeles discuss money: getting it, spending it, and learning to live without it.
“my olympic summer,” Director: Daniel Robin; Screenwriter: Daniel Robin and M.R. Dhar
After his marriage fails, the filmmaker looks at home video footage of his parents when they were young in hopes to understand how they kept the magic. This film is set against the historical backdrop of the hostage crisis at the Munich Olympic games of 1972.
“Pilgrimage,” Director: Tadashi Nakamura; Screenwriters: Karen Ishizuka
A tribute to the small group of Japanese Americans in the late 1960s who transformed an abandoned WWII concentration camp into a symbol of retrospection and solidarity for people of all ages, races, and nations.
“Salim Baba,” Director: Tim Sternberg
Salim Muhammad is a 55-year-old man who lives in North Kolkata with his wife and five children. Since the age of ten he has made a living using a hand-cranked projector to screen discarded film scraps for the kids in his surrounding neighborhoods.
“The Adventures of Baxter & McGuire: The Boss,” Director: Mike Blum; Screenwriters: Michael Weithorn, Nick Bakay
This animated buddy-comedy chronicles the adventures of Baxter and McGuire, the closest of pals who never leave each other’s side. They also just happen to be testicles.
“Chonto,” Director: Carson Mell
Wilted rock idol Bobby Bird literally tries to buy a friend when he adopts a monkey from a zoo in South America.
“The History of America,” Director: MK12
A psychedelic western space opera.
“My Biodegradable Heart,” Director: Dana Adam Shapiro
A story about puppy love and how long it would take said puppy to decompose.
“Teat Beat of Sex,” Director: Signe Baumane
A take on sex exclusively from a woman’s point of view.
“Count Backward from Five,” Director: Tony Gault
A visual exploration of generosity and addiction that commemorates the filmmaker’s brother’s recent passing.
“The Drift,” Director: Kelly Sears
A 1960s space mission goes awry, resulting in a strange disappearance and cosmic transmissions. The fall-out of this journey forever changes life back on Earth and launches a counter-culture revolution.
“Gas Zappers,” Director: Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung
A short animation about climate change, where an ironically over-appropriated and fuzzy polar bear, abruptly finds itself in a position to save its home.
“Ignite,” Director: Shawn Bannon
The 2007 fires of Griffith Park. Shot with seven time-lapse cameras. An experimental perspective that is beautiful, eerie, and captivating.
“Number One,” Director: Leighton Pierce
Water imagery engages the experience of elasticity between varying states of mind.
“Untitled #1” (from the series “Earth People 2507”), Director: Nao Bustamente
An enchanting meditation on an ancient species from the future using found footage, cell phone video, and crude chroma key effects to create a coherent and petite spell. The rendition of buffalos made from a “herd” of toy poodles tweaks at our understanding of the symbolic world.
“Because Washington is Hollywood For Ugly People,” Director: Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung
Politician John McCain coined the expression, “Washington is a Hollywood for Ugly People.” This scathing work satirizes with images, color, and music over past and current political leadership.
International Short Films:
“Advantage” (Australia), Director: Sean Byrne; Screenwriter: Rob Beamish
A young couple stumble home after a big night out. Their frisky interlude at a suburban tennis club lands them a role in a far more sinister, supernatural game and their opponents have a distinct home court advantage.
“August 15” (China), Director: Jiang Xuan
Based on a real life event, a young Chinese woman boards a bus with her boyfriend to head home to meet his parents. What was supposed to be a joyful holiday turns unpredictable when a pair of countryside crooks hijack their bus. Traveling through China’s dangerous mountain passes, the passengers must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice for their own safety.
“Cherries,” (United Kingdom), Director: Tom Harper; Screenwriter: Fiona Kissane)
A class of teenage schoolboys are oblivious to their teacher’s attempts to question them about the wider world. They are about to get a lesson they will never forget…one that will change their lives forever.
“Crossbow,” (Australia), Director: David Michod
A kid. His Mum and Dad. The sex and drugs. And the boy next door who watched the whole thing unravel.
“Dennis,” (Denmark), Director: Mads Matthiesen
When Dennis, an introvert bodybuilder, invites a local girl out on a date his mother is hurt and disappointed. Despite the pressure she puts on him to cancel the date, Dennis ventures into a night that he will never forget.
“Dugong” (Australia), Director: Erin White
In an effort to repair the past, a loner returns home with his dog on the day of his brother’s wedding, but learns that in order to make amends he must leave a piece of himself behind.
“The Funeral” (Canada) Director: Sara St. Onge
A dark comedy about a young woman in her early thirties becomes aware of her own mortality and reacts by meticulously planning her own funeral. Possibly due to a lack of other big days in her life so far, such as a wedding, this becomes her moment to shine.
“Harvest Time” (Finland) Director: Sami Korjus
For so long, farmhouse lady Anja Huovinen has gritted her teeth and put up with her lazy husband’s drinking habits and idle talk, focusing instead on her work. But there is a limit to everything.
“I Love Sarah Jane” (Australia), Director: Spencer Susser
Jimbo is 13 and can think of only one girl-Sarah Jane. And no matter what stands in his way-bullies, violence, chaos, or zombies-nothing will stop him from finding a way into her world.
“Juvenile” (United Kingdom), Director: China Moo-Young; Screenwriter: Glenn Doherty
A single parent’s relationship with his teenage daughter, on the day she brings home her new boyfriend.
“The Object” (United Kingdom), Director: Leslie Ali; Screenwriters: Leslie Ali, Paul Calozzo, Nathan Frank
Two hunters spot a flying object. Soon after, one of them is struck by the object as it falls to earth, setting off a chain reaction that ultimately reveals mankind’s stupidity and greed.
“Smile” (Canada), Director: Julia Kwan
A subtle look at the fractures that bond a Chinese immigrant family on the day they use their cut-out Sears coupon for a free family portrait.
“Soft” (United Kingdom), Director: Simon Ellis
A father rediscovers his fear of confrontation at the worst possible time.
“The Sound of People” (Ireland), Director: Simon Fitzmaurice
An 18- year-old boy stands in a moment on the brink of death.
“Spider” (Australia), Director: Nash Edgerton
It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
“The Wrestling” (Iceland), Director: Grimur Hakonarson
A love story about two gay wrestlers living in rural Iceland who must keep their relationship a secret from the inner world of Iceland’s national and very macho sport.
“Waves” (Romania), Director and Screenwriter: Adrian Sitaru
A beautiful Western woman asks a Gypsy to watch her four-year-old child while she is taught how to swim by a flirtatious married man, before she disappears into the sea.
“Wind” (Germany), Director: The Vikings
A social outcast describes how he finally found his place in the world.
“The Apology Line” (United Kingdom), Director: James Lees
Based on the creation of a real-life ‘apology line’ where members of the public anonymously confess to absolutely anything over the telephone.
“Breadmakers” (United Kingdom), Director: Yasmin Fedda
At a unique Edinburgh bakery, a community of workers with learning disabilities makes a variety of organic breads for daily delivery to local shops and cafes.
“Farewell Packets of Ten” (Ireland) Director: Ken Wardrop
Two ladies discuss the pros and cons of their mutual addiction to cigarettes.
“Scoring” (Ireland), Director: Ken Wardrop
A young man explains the true power of a kiss.
“1977” (United Kingdom), Director: Peque Varela
A small town, a growing knot, and a girl searching for her identity.
“Dog” (Iceland), Director: Hermann Karlsson
Remembering the death of a dog and the guilt of a boy that soon followed.
“Flighty” (United Kingdom), Director: Leigh Hodgkinson
Butterflies in search of mates undergo penultimate speed dating, and for good reason: they have two weeks to live.
“For the Love of God” (United Kingdom), Director: Joe Tucker; Screenwriter: Joe Tucker and Raphael Warner
Graham lives with his overbearing mother in a Christian bookshop, trapped in the seedy outskirts of a decaying nowhere town. He and his mother both love God, but in very different ways.
“I Have Seen the Future” (Canada), Director: Cam Christiansen; Screenwriter: Kris Demeanor
A suburban boy competes in a tennis match with his father in the suburbs of Calgary when three young men approach and start to rudely accost them.
“I Met the Walrus” (Canada), Director: Josh Raskin
In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. Using the original interview as the soundtrack, this narrative tenderly romances Lennon’s every word in a cascading flood of multi-pronged animation.
“Lapsus” (Argentina), Director: Juan Pablo Zaramella
A curious nun ventures into the darker side of her animated world.
“Madame Tutli-Putli” (Canada), Directors: Chris Lavis, Maciek Szczerbowski
Madame Tutli-Putli boards the night train, weighed down with all her earthly possessions and the ghosts of her past. As day descends into dark, she finds herself caught up in a desperate metaphysical adventure adrift between real and imagined worlds.
“Paradise” (France), Director: Yi Zhou
A lyrical look at plants and bugs preparing for pollination in the spring.
“The Pearce Sisters” (United Kingdom), Director: Luis Cook
An amusingly bleak-hearted tale of two weather-lashed old spinsters living on a remote and austere strip of coast, scraping out a miserable existence from the sea.
“Yours Truly” (United Kingdom), Director: Osbert Parker
Animation and live action collide in the story of Frank and Charlie, a dark romance of psychological tension that unfolds as the two men sacrifice their morals in search of what they love.
“Bend It” (United Kingdom), Director: Jules Nurrish
An homage piece with a significant nod towards the living sculpture-art of Gilbert and George that plays with conventional notions of gender. Featuring two unnamed, androgynous figures on plinths in an art gallery, they dance to the same tune that Gilbert and George used in their piece from the late 1960s, in which they created the “bend-it” dance.
“Buyo” (Italy), Director: Andrea Fasciani
In this post-modern tale, Ralph is a guy whose voice only generates weird sounds, and Anna is deaf. One day they meet in the elevator. Ralph’s unusual voice makes Anna’s body vibrate, prompting Anna’s affections and her desire to follow him everywhere.
“Nikamowin” (Song) (Canada), Director: Kevin Lee Burton
Deconstructing and reconstructing Cree narrative, this film experiments with language to create a linguistic soundscape.
“Oiran Lyrics” (Japan), Director: Ryosuke Ogawa
A historical musical about the glamorous yet plaintive life of Kiyomi, a beautiful oiran or high-class Japanese courtesan.
“please stand back” (zurrueckbleiben bitte) (Austria), Directors: Sam Auinger, Dietmar Offenhuber, Hannes Strobl
The directorial collective, Stadtmusik, deals with sounds in cities by analyzing sound structures that are triggered by urban buildings and facilities. They focus on the aspect of movement in the city, reinforcing a dynamic experience of the urban soundscape.
“Plot Point” (Belgium), Director: Nicolas Provost
The crowded streets of New York City turn into fictive, filmic scenery. By playing with our collective memory-its cinematic codes and narrative language- the piece questions the boundaries of reality and fiction.
“Sevilla 06” (Italy), Director: Olivo Barbieri
A tale about the perception of Europe in Africa…from the vantage point of an airplane.
“Suspension” (Belgium), Director: Nicolas Provost
Letting go of realist constraints, and going back to the mirror-images of some of Provost’s previous works, we dive into a metamorphosing cosmic ocean.
indieWIRE’s coverage of the Sundance Film Festival is available in a special Park City section here at indieWIRE.com