Once again the Sundance Film Festival is premiering shorts on its website so people around the world can enjoy a sample of what's screening January 17-27, 2008 in Park City, Utah. Beginning on January 18, one of the festival's 83 short films will stream online for free at www.sundance.org/festival/shorts. Twenty-four hours later, a new short will take its place. The festival is calling this online experience "10 Shorts 10 Days." Additionally, 45 of the 83 shorts will be available for purchase and download via iTunes, Xbox LIVE, and Netflix's member website during the festival's run and beyond. Here is an advanced look at 10 shorts that can only be viewed at the festival's theaters, followed by a list of the 10 limited-time free online offerings.
Here (in alphabetical order) are 10 additional must-see shorts to catch in Utah since they aren't part of the 45 films available for purchase/download after the fest:
"Advantage" (Directed by Sean Byrne, Australia, 2007, 11 mins) Be warned: this 35MM short starts slow but ends big! Young lovers wandering home late at night mess around on a neighborhood tennis court, never guessing that they might be caught with their pants down. "Advantage" plays in front of short filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo's much anticipated feature film debut, "Time Crimes."
"Aquarium" (Directed by Rob Meyer USA, 2007, 17 mins) True, it's yet another student film about misfit high schoolers, and haven't we all seen way too many of those.... But this short starts with such a terrific opening scene that you have to give it a chance. Besides, who can resist a story centered around teenagers who are card-carrying members of the Boston Aquarium Society? "Aquarium" screens as part of Shorts Program I.
"Breadmakers" (Directed by Yasmin Fedda, United Kingdom, 2007, 10 mins) This simple yet very touching documentary about a local Edinburgh bakery staffed by people with learning disabilities plays in front of the feature "The Women of Brukman."
"Chief" (Directed by Brett Wagner, USA, 2007, 20 mins) An engaging drama about an exiled Samoan chief slumming as a taxi driver in Honolulu. "Chief" screens in Shorts Program II.
"Dog" (Directed by Hermann Karlsson, Iceland, 2006, 1 min) Gotta love a quirky minute-long animated short about a late lamented canine. "Dog" is part of the Animation Spotlight shorts program.
"The Drift" (Directed by Kelly Sears, USA, 2007, 9 mins) Sears has constructed a mesmerizing collage animation that invents an alternate history. This frame-by-frame found-footage showcase plays in front of the New Frontier feature "Reversion."
"Juvenile" (Directed by China Moo-Young, United Kingdom, 2007, 11 mins) Glenn Doherty wrote and stars in this wonderful father-daughter relationship drama that feels like it's a feature film - yet it's only 11 minutes long. China Moo-Young's short will be playing the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival's youth sidebar Generation 14Plus. "Juvenile" screens at Sundance in front of the feature "Blue Eyelids."
"kids + money" (Directed by Lauren Greenfield, USA, 2007, 32 mins) Returning to Sundance after her 2006 Grand Jury Prize win for the feature doc "Thin," photographer Lauren Greenfield turns her lens on spendthrift Los Angeles preteens, all of whom fervently believe they're entitled to a Paris Hilton lifestyle. "kids + money" can be found in the Documentary Spotlight shorts program.
"Pilgrimage" (Directed by Tadashi Nakamura, USA, 2007, 22 mins) This documentary about why there is an annual pilgrimage to the site of a Japanese-American internment camp is even more poignant when put in a post-9/11 context. "Pilgrimage" is also part of the Documentary Spotlight shorts program.
"Welcome" (Directed by Kirsten Dunst, USA, 2007, 12 mins) Actress Kirsten Dunst steps behind the camera and puts Winona Rider in front of it in this modern day haunted house story. As an aside, actress Isabella Rossellini also helmed a short in this year's festival, "Green Porno (Dragonfly/Firefly/Spider)," but Ms. Rossellini's work wasn't sent to indieWIRE for preview. "Welcome" is in Shorts Program III.
The free one-a-day shorts streaming on the 2008 Sundance Film Festival website are:
January 18: "I Love Sarah Jane" (Directed by Spencer Susser, Australia, 2007, 14 mins) The best way to sum up this film is to imagine if "Shaun of the Dead" starred a thirteen-year-old, romantically-obsessed, zombie-fighting boy named Jimbo. After its Sundance run, this short will screen at Clermont-Ferrand.
January 19: "Pariah" (Directed by Dee Rees, USA, 2007, 27 mins) This multiple-award wining dramatic film about a Bronx teenager trying to keep true to herself among peer and family pressure is a long one to watch online but well worth every minute.
January 20: "Yours Truly" (Directed by Osbert Parker, United Kingdom, 2007, 8 mins) Parker improves on the mixed media method he pioneered in his 2006 short "Film Noir" to create a tale of high cinematic intrigue. Fans of animation and of Turner Classic Movies won't want to miss this one.
January 21: "my olympic summer" (Directed by Daniel Robin, USA, 2007, 12 mins) This very personal doc is set around the time of the 1972 Munich Olympics. But that dramatic hook is just window dressing for a thoughtful rumination on marriage and family secrets.
January 22: "Sick Sex" (Directed by Justin Nowell, USA, 2007, 12 mins) Great title, right? It's an even better title when you realize it isn't false advertising. This short is indeed about sick sex. But don't worry, you can watch it on your work computer.
January 23: "Because Washington is Hollywood for Ugly People" (Directed by Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, USA, 2007, 7 mins) This is one of two films anarchist animator Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung has at the festival (the other is "Gas Zappers"). Both films consist of wild imagery illustrated in a 21st century take on Terry Gilliam's Monty Python animation style. A timely film to watch as the presidential race is heating up!
January 24: "Force 1 TD" (Directed by Randy Krallman, USA, 2007, 11 mins) Any film featuring a miniature guide horse named Carmine must be seen. Unfortunately, the filmmaker did not send a preview copy to indieWIRE.
January 25: "Wind, 10 Years Old" (Directed by Marzieh Vafamehr, Iran, 2007, 23 mins) A ten-year-old Iranian is home alone when her mother calls to warn about an impending city-wide alarm. Instead of doing as instructed, the little girl makes her own emergency preparations in this fascinating fictional depiction of home life in the Middle East.
January 26: "Sikumi (On the Ice)" (Directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, USA, 2007, 15 mins) This very tense NYU drama is in essence an Alaskan Western - a showdown between an honest man and a murderer in an isolated setting, which just happens to be the frozen Arctic Ocean.
January 27: "Spider" (Directed by Nash Edgerton, Australia, 2007, 9 mins) Edgerton has more than a few surprises up his sleeve in constructing this totally captivating relationship drama.
Note: this the first of two articles profiling the 2008 Sundance shorts.
indieWIRE's coverage of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival is available in iW's special Park City section.