The Sundance Film Festival’s always fascinating selection of short films is now set for 2016, with 72 titles—including “Jurassic World” star Bryce Dallas Howard’s “Solemates,” “Up in the Air” director Jason Reitman’s documentary short “Roast Battle,” and “Nasty Baby” filmmaker Sebastian Silva’s “Dolfun.”
When it comes to shorts, Sundance is trying to help find new models to help people looking for content, via new technology and an Adobe program, said the festival’s chief programmer, Trevor Groth. “We’re thinking of new ways to help get the shorts out. We take out our own program to 60 theaters across America that does well, there is a hunger out there for shorts. The growth in the popularity of shorts speaks to the way people are getting excited by storytellers working in different forms and formats, and how they access them. People are looking to acquire short films, and distributors are cropping up looking to get films out there.”
Among the short films the Festival has shown in recent years
are “World of Tomorrow,” “Whiplash,” “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom,” and “Fishing Without Nets.” This year’s short film lineup will include
both a Midnight and a New Frontier section, tying into the Festival’s other
addition to screening short films at the festival, the Sundance Institute packages the
award-winning short films to tour arthouse theaters throughout the year, and also hosts regional short film labs in cities across the United States.
Read the full list of shorts selected for the 2016 festival below.
Affections / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bridey Elliott)
— This comedy about isolation and loneliness follows a young woman who is
adrift and seeking intimacy in the most unlikely places.
Catching Up / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bill Crossland)
— A physically disabled high school teacher seeks assistance from his cynical
friend after falling in love with an able-bodied co-worker. This funny and
dramatic examination of disability, sex, and love stars real people with
Dirt / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Darius Clark Monroe)
— Some things must die to live.
Dogwalker / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kim Sherman) —
This dark comedy adventure is the story of a young dog walker after the
unexpected death of her favorite client.
Dolfun / U.S.A. (Director: Sebastian Silva, Screenwriters:
Sebastian Silva, Trinidad Silva, Carlos Rossi) — What begins as a love story
becomes an existential crisis when filmmaker Sebastian Silva flies to Miami to
fulfill his lifelong dream of swimming with a dolphin.
Emperor of Time / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Drew
Christie) — This is the story of the first motion pictures ever photographed,
as told by the son of Eadweard Muybridge.
How to Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps / U.S.A. (Director: Benjamin
Berman, Screenwriter: Aaron Bleyaert) — Losing weight and getting fit has never
been easier! Shed those unwanted pounds with these simple tricks your gym
doesn’t want you to know about. You won’t believe what happens next!
Join the Club / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eva Vives) —
A writer’s dilemma of whether or not to join a professional networking club
takes many interesting turns as it unfolds entirely during one therapy session.
Jungle / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Asantewaa Prempeh)
— The lines between trust, betrayal, and forgiveness are intertwined for two
Senegalese vendors as they try to make a living on the streets of New York
Killer / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matt Kazman) — When
Dusty masturbates for the first time, something terrible happens.
PARTNERS / U.S.A. (Director: Joey Ally, Screenwriters: Jen
Tullock, Hannah Utt) — Work and life partners Kate and Leigh share everything,
from their apartment to the bar they co-own. When a sex life slump forces them
to reconsider their relationship, they must confront how intertwined their
lives have become, to humorous ends.
A Reasonable Request / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Laurich,
Screenwriters: Gabriel Miller, Andrew Laurich) — A desperate son reconnects
with his estranged father to ask an unspeakable favor that will change both of
their lives forever.
So Good to See You / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Duke
Merriman) — In this darkly comic take on the dual realities of friendship, a dinner
party goes painfully sour when a voicemail, unknowingly recorded, exposes one
couple’s true opinions of their old friends.
Solemates / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bryce Dallas
Howard) — Told from the perspective of shoes, this film tells the story of a
couple’s journey through life—the ups, the downs, the passion, and the
dedication it takes to share your life with the one you love.
Thunder Road / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jim Cummings)
— Officer Arnaud loved his mom.
Too Legit / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Frankie Shaw) —
After becoming pregnant from a sexual assault on campus, a young woman goes on
a journey to find out if the rape was “legitimate.” This film was
inspired by the statements of Senator Todd Akin.
Verbatim: The Ferguson Case / U.S.A. (Director: Brett Weiner,
Screenwriter: Grand Jury Transcript) — Unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was
shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Using court transcripts from
the case, this short film juxtaposes the reenacted testimony of two key
witnesses: Dorian Johnson and the police officer himself, Darren Wilson.
NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
Audition / Sweden (Director: Lovisa Sirén, Screenwriters:
Lovisa Sirén, Peter Modestij) — Mika is auditioning male actors for her first
feature, and they are all well-established alpha dogs in the film business. The
situation turns more sour as their confidence in her reaches new lows.
Belladonna / Croatia (Director and screenwriter: Dubravka
Turic) — Three women of different ages and backgrounds meet in an
ophthalmologist’s waiting room. The mention of a tragedy that left one of them
nearly blind suddenly bridges their differences and creates a possibility for
closeness and connection.
Her Friend Adam / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Ben
Petrie) — A boyfriend’s jealous impulse spirals out of control in 16 minutes of
It’s Not You / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Don McKellar)
— Relationships can be an endless cycle of breakups.
Land Tides (Marea de Tierra) / Chile, France (Directors and
screenwriters: Manuela Martelli, Amirah Tajdin) — Laura, a heartbroken teenager
from Santiago, is on holiday in the southern Chilean archipelago, Chiloé, with
her friends. As she wanders the lonely island seascapes, she encounters a group
of women who are seaweed collectors and shares stories with them.
Maman(s) / France (Director and screenwriter: Maïmouna Doucouré
) — Life is disrupted for eight-year-old Aida when her father returns with a
young Senegalese woman, Rama, whom he introduces as his second wife. Sensitive
to her mother’s distress, Aida decides to get rid of the new visitor.
MeTube 2: August sings Carmina Burana / Austria
(Director and screenwriter: Daniel Moshel) — After Elfie and her nerdy son
August successfully proved themselves on their home webcam in MeTube 1, the odd
pair venture onto the street to present the biggest, boldest, and sexiest
operatic flash mob the internet has ever witnessed!
Mobilize / Canada (Director: Caroline Monnet) — Guided expertly
by those who live on the land and are driven by the pulse of the natural world,
this story takes us on an exhilarating journey from the far north to the urban
Over / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Jörn
Threlfall) — What has happened in this quiet suburban neighborhood? Has there
been a murder, a hit-and-run, an accident? The reality is both profound and
Peacock / Czech Republic (Director: Ondřej Hudeček,
Screenwriters: Jan Smutny, Ondřej Hudeček) — A twisted queer romance set in
picturesque 19th-century Bohemia tells the true story of the birth of one of
the nation’s most influential writers, with suspense, laughter, violence, hope,
nudity, sex, and a happy ending—mostly a happy ending.
Rate Me / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Fyzal
Boulifa) — A portrait of a teenage escort named Coco.
Seide / Kyrgyzstan (Director and screenwriter: Elnura
Osmonalieva) — Seide lives in a snowy mountain village with her humble family
and her beloved horse. When she’s forced into an arranged marriage with a man
from a wealthy family, she fights to save her horse from being slaughtered for
food for the wedding.
Tuesday / Turkey, France (Director: Ziya Demirel,
Screenwriters: Ziya Demirel, Buket Coşkuner) — This ordinary day of a teenage
girl in Istanbul follows her encounters with three different men as she goes to
school, plays basketball, and takes a bus home.
Another Kind of Girl / Jordan (Director: Khaldiya Jibawi) —
Filmed during a media workshop for Syrian girls in Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee
Camp, 17-year-old Khaldiya meditates on how the camp has opened up new horizons
and given her a sense of courage that she lacked in Syria.
Bacon & God’s Wrath / Canada (Director: Sol Friedman) — A
90-year-old Jewish woman reflects on her life experiences as she prepares to
try bacon for the first time.
Beneath the Embers (Bajo las Brasas) / Mexico (Directors and
screenwriters: Verónica Jessamyn López Sainz, Andrea Fuentes Charles) — Isabel,
a young woman from the Sierra mountains of Guanajuato, is motivated by the love
of her family, and she has learned that she must sacrifice her present in order
to value tomorrow’s success and achieve her dreams.
Chekhov / U.S.A.
(Director and screenwriter: Jack Dunphy) — I called my sister (who’s kind of a
bitch, but also really cool) and secretly recorded her reading a love letter
from this girl that just dumped me. The conversation went from funny to
unbearably sad—hanging up was hard.
Entrapped / U.S.A. (Director: Razan Ghalayini) — The FBI
claimed it exposed a dangerous group of men in a massive entrapment operation
over an alleged plot to attack a U.S. Army base in New Jersey. But were they
Figure / Poland, Belgium (Director and screenwriter: Katarzyna
Gondek) — A gigantic figure emerges from the snow and sits on a hill with
spiders, saints, and bumper cars in this surreal tale about creating myths,
religious kitsch, and the desire for greatness. Meet the world’s largest sacral
miniature park resident.
Flower of a Thousand Colours / Belgium (Director: Karen Vazquez
Guadarrama) — Flower of a Thousand
Colours shows an intimate slice of the life of Emiliana, a loving mother
who struggles every day with her rough environment—a Bolivian mining camp.
Jáaji Approx. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sky Hopinka)
— Against landscapes that the artist and his father traversed, audio of the
father in the Ho-Chunk language is transcribed using the International Phonetic
Alphabet, which tapers off, narrowing the distance between recorder and
recordings, new and traditional, memory and song.
I Am Yup’ik / U.S.A. (Directors: Daniele Anastasion, Nathan
Golon) — A 16-year-old Yup’ik Eskimo leaves his tiny village and travels across
the frozen tundra to compete in an all-Yup’ik basketball tournament and bring
pride to his village.
Mining Poems or Odes / United Kingdom, Scotland (Director:
Callum Rice) — Robert, an ex-shipyard welder from Govan, Glasgow, reflects on
how his life experiences have influenced his newfound compulsion to write.
Peace in the Valley / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters:
Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher) — Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is home to both the
largest outdoor Passion Play in the United States and an important vote on LGBT
rights. This film follows the town’s inhabitants as they prepare for the
Roast Battle / U.S.A. (Director: Jason Reitman) — The most
bigoted room is the least bigoted room. Watch one night at the Comedy Store’s
The Saint of Dry Creek / U.S.A. (Director: Julie Zammarchi) —
Patrick Haggerty was a teenager in rural Dry Creek, Washington, in the late
1950s. Here, he remembers the day he first had a conversation with his father
about being gay.
The Send-Off / U.S.A. (Directors: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan)
— Emboldened by a giant block party on the evening of their high school prom, a
group of students enters the night with the hope of transcending their rural
town and the industrial landscape that surrounds them.
The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere / U.S.A. (Director and
screenwriter: Mickey Duzyj) — Haru Urara, a Japanese racehorse, became a
national icon after enduring a losing streak of epic proportions. Dubbed
“The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere,” she was a symbol of
perseverance and inspiration during a time of economic crisis.
Speaking is Difficult / U.S.A. (Director: AJ Schnack) — This
film always begins in the present day. A scene of tragedy unfolds, accompanied
by fear, chaos, and disbelief. As it rewinds into the past, retracing our
memories, it tells a cumulative history that is both unbearable and inevitable.
Territory / United Kingdom (Director: Eleanor Mortimer) — This
warm and lyrical film follows a group of unruly monkeys in Gibraltar and the
people employed to control them with peashooters.
A Woman and Her Car / Canada (Director: Loïc Darses) — December
31, 2003: Lucie decides to write a letter to the man who abused her from the
age of 8 to 12 years old and resolves to personally bring it to him, wherever
he may be.
NEW FRONTIER SHORT
Abendland (Hours, Years, Aeons) / Finland (Directors: IC-98: Patrik Söderlund, Visa Suonpää,
Screenwriter: Patrik Söderlund) — In a twilight world long after the age of
man, a twisted ecosystem centered around an overgrown fruit tree undergoes
parasitic and geological transformations as hours, years, and eons pass.
Swimming in Your Skin Again / U.S.A. (Director and
screenwriter: Terence Nance) — This intensely musical film is about the
spiritual anchorages of life in and around Miami. The story is drenched in the
heat, spirit, and landscape of southern Florida.
Voyagers / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Santiago
Menghini) — Travel along with the Voyager spacecrafts as they traverse the
solar system on their planetary expedition, spanning over three decades.
YúYú / France (Director and screenwriter: Marc Johnson) —
Beekeeper Shé Zuŏ Bīn performs a “rite of spring,” in which queen
bees are placed on his body and then summon worker bees. He stands still,
covered by bees, allowing the buzzing to dominate all and become a protective
Boniato / U.S.A. (Directors: Andres Meza-Valdes, Diego
Meza-Valdes, Eric Mainade, Screenwriters: Andres Meza-Valdes, Eric Mainade) —
An illegal migrant worker decides it’s time to move on from picking crops and
find a better job. Little does she know, insidious supernatural forces have a
different plan for her. Some borders aren’t meant to be crossed.
The Chickening / U.S.A., Canada (Directors and screenwriters:
Nick DenBoer, Davy Force) — All pork and no chicken makes Jack a dull boy.
Luckily, Jack gets a new job as senior chief night manager at Charbay’s Chicken
World and Restaurant Resort, the world’s largest fast-food entertainment
complex; however, things quickly get very clucked.
Dinner with Family with Brett Gelman and Brett Gelman’s Family
/ U.S.A. (Director: Jason Woliner, Screenwriters: Brett Gelman, Jason Woliner)
— Brett Gelman throws his parents a dinner and tribute for their 40th
anniversary with the help of legendary actors Tony Roberts and Patti LuPone.
The evening soon unravels into a mind-melting comedic orgy of psychological
torture and family dysfunction.
Fuckkkyouuu / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eddie Alcazar)
— With the ability to travel in time, a girl finds love and comfort by
connecting with her past self. Eventually faced with rejection, she struggles
with her identity, and as time folds onto itself only one of them can remain.
Manoman / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Simon
Cartwright) — When Glen attends primal scream class, he releases something from
deep within that knows no limits.
The Pound Hole / U.S.A. (Directors: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel
Kwan, Screenwriters: Daniel Weidenfeld, Doug Lussenhop) — During a night at the
strangest club on earth, DJ Douggpound learns the very real dangers of texting
The Procedure / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Calvin Lee
Reeder) — A man is captured and forced to endure a strange experiment.
The Puppet Man / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jacqueline
Castel) — A supernatural killer stalks a young woman and her friends in a
seedy, neon-lit dive bar in this short film featuring horror legend John
Bob Dylan Hates Me / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Caveh
Zahedi) — Independent filmmaker Caveh Zahedi meets his childhood idol.
A Coat Made Dark / Ireland (Director and screenwriter: Jack
O’Shea) — Two burglars strike it rich after stealing a mysterious coat. So
begins this darkly comic tale, in which Midnight, an anthropomorphized dog, and
his human servant Peter, struggle for power, courtesy of the coat.
Deer Flower / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter:
Kangmin Kim) — Dujung, an elementary school student, goes to a farm in the
suburbs with his parents. While his parents believe the expensive and rare
specialty from the farm will strengthen their son’s body, Dujung suffers side
Edmond / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Nina Gantz)
— Edmond’s impulse to love and be close to others is strong—maybe too strong.
As he stands by a lake contemplating his options, he reflects on his defining
moments in search of the origin of his desires.
Glove / U.S.A. (Directors: Alexa Haas, Bernardo Britto,
Screenwriter: Bernardo Britto) — The true story of a glove that’s been floating
in space since 1968.
The Grandfather Drum / Canada (Director and screenwriter:
Michelle Derosier) — As the balance of the world turns upside down for the
Anishinabek people, the elder Naamowin builds a healing drum to save his
grandson and his people.
The Itching / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dianne
Bellino) — In this parable, a shy wolf tries to connect with a group of hip,
party-loving bunnies but finds her body is in revolt.
Life Smartphone / China (Director and screenwriter: Chenglin
Xie) — The phenomenon of increasing smartphone addiction can be attributed to
today’s cutting-edge technology. Staring at glowing screens instead of
exploring the vast expanse of life, people are gradually alienating themselves
from the richness, depth, and loveliness of life.
Limbo Limbo Travel / France, Hungary (Directors and
screenwriters: Zsuzsanna Kreif, Borbála Zétényi) — In a country where men seem
more interested in their electronic gadgets than their peers, a group of lonely
and disillusioned women take the Limbo Limbo bus. Off to a far exotic country,
they hope to find happiness.
Pombo Loves You / United Kingdom (Director: Steve Warne,
Screenwriter: Josh Blaaberg) — A distant father is forced to confront a heroic
but troubled past life as ’80s TV character Pombo.
Shiny / U.S.A. (Directors: Spencer Susser, Daniel Cloud Campos)
— A damsel in distress gets undressed when a man from the Midwest puts to rest
a world that’s obsessed with “the priceless,” also known as “the
’98 / Lebanon (Director and screenwriter: Ely Dagher) — Disillusioned with
life in the suburbs of segregated Beirut, Omar’s discovery lures him into the
city. Immersed into a world that is close yet isolated, he loses track and
finds himself struggling to keep his attachments and sense of home.