This year’s Sundance Film Festival will boast an eclectic mix of 66 short films across four sections, including U.S. Narrative, International Narrative, Animated, and Documentary. This year’s slate includes new offerings from filmmakers like Don Hertzfeld, who is bringing the followup to his previous Sundance effort, “World of Tomorrow,” to the annual festival, plus names like Marshall Curry, Diane Obomsawin, and Marc Johnson. Talents best known for their on-screen skills, like Dev Patel and Anna Margaret Hollyman, will also be bringing directorial efforts to the festival.
After debuting at Sundance, select short films will be presented as a traveling program at 75 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, and short films and filmmakers take part in regional Master Classes geared towards supporting emerging shorts-makers in several cities. The Short Film program is presented by YouTube.
Mike Plante, Senior Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, said in an official statement, “We are always thrilled to discover new voices in filmmaking through the short film program: they take risks in story and style you might not expect.”
The festival also announced its first Special Event, Matthew Heineman’s “The Trade,” billed as a “character-driven vérité docu-series which explores the opioid epidemic from the intimate perspectives of growers, addicts and law enforcement on both sides of the border. This interwoven narrative transcends the headlines to convey, with humanity and nuance, the scope and gravity of the crisis.”
Also announced today is the full slate for the festival’s burgeoning Episodics section, which you can read up on right here. More lineup announcements, including New Frontier, will arrive later this week.
This year’s festival runs from January 18 – 28 in Park City, Utah. Check out the full list of just-announced short film titles, with all synopses provided by Sundance, below.
U.S. Narrative Short Films
“Agua Viva” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Alexa Lim Haas) — A Chinese manicurist in Miami attempts to describe feelings she doesn’t have the words for.
“The Blazing World” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Carlson Young) — Margaret has been plagued with dreams of a strange world since she was a little girl. After a mysterious man with a map visits her one night, she decides to give in to the incessant calls of The Blazing World.
“Blue Christmas” / United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Charlotte Wells) — On Christmas Eve, 1968, in a Scottish coastal town, a debt collector goes to work to avoid confronting his wife’s worsening psychosis at home.
“Cheer Up Baby” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Adinah Dancyger) — A young woman who has been sexually assaulted by a stranger on the subway is rendered with psychological menace and sensory dislocation in this elliptical tale.
“The Climb” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Covino) — Kyle is depressed and a weekend bike ride with his best friend, Mike, should help. Fresh air. Camaraderie. Exercise. But Mike has something to say that might ruin the ride.
“Don’t Be a Hero” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Pete Lee) — A middle-aged woman battles loneliness and boredom by robbing banks on her lunch break. But after the adrenaline rush wears off, she still has to deal with her deeply unhappy life. Inspired by a true story. DAY ONE
“Emergency” / U.S.A. (Director: Carey Williams, Screenwriter: K.D. Dávila) — Faced with an emergency situation, a group of young Black and Latino friends carefully weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.
“End of the Line” / U.S.A. (Director: Jessica Sanders, Screenwriter: Joanne Giger) — A lonely man goes to the pet store and buys a tiny man in a cage.
“EVE” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Susan Bay Nimoy) — Eve, a 74 year old widow after 30 years of marriage, journeys through grief, sexual passion, and renewal.
“GREAT CHOICE” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Robin Comisar) — A woman gets stuck in a Red Lobster commercial.
“Hair Wolf” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mariama Diallo) — In a black hair salon in gentrifying Brooklyn, the local residents fend off a strange new monster: white women intent on sucking the lifeblood from black culture.
“Home Shopper” / Singapore, U.S.A. (Director: Dev Patel, Screenwriter: Ryan Farhoudi) — In a loveless marriage, Penny finds solace in the hypnotic escape of the home shopping channel. When things take an unexpected turn with her husband, the channel proves to be her saving grace…or was it the problem all along?
“LaZercism” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shaka King) — Ask your doctor if LaZercism is right for you.
“Maude” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Anna Margaret Hollyman) — Teeny thought it was just another routine babysitting job – until she’s shocked to meet the client. As the day goes on, Teeny decides to become the woman she had no idea she always wanted to be…until she gets caught.
“Men Don’t Whisper” / U.S.A. (Director: Jordan Firstman, Screenwriters: Jordan Firstman, Charles Rogers) — After being emasculated at a sales conference, gay couple Reese and Peyton set out to do the most masculine thing they can think of – sleep with some women. DAY ONE
“Mud (Hashtł’ishnii)” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shaandiin Tome) — On her last day, Ruby faces the inescapable remnants of alcoholism, family and culture.
“Painting with Joan” / U.S.A. (Director: Jack Henry Robbins, Screenwriters: Jack Henry Robbins, Nunzio Randazzo) — Today on “Painting with Joan”: a mixture of fun, learning and cobalt blue.
“ULTRAVIOLET” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marc Johnson) — A woman named Kanchana and several scorpions explore collaborative survival approaches in a posthuman future in which all living beings are considered equal. Inter-species sociability, the Anthropocene and speculative Fabulations unfold in a futuristic and enchanted world.
“War Paint” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Katrelle N. Kindred) — A young black girl in South L.A. experiences a series of events at the convergence of racism and sexism during the 4th of July holiday.
“Wyrm” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Christopher Winterbauer) — Wyrm has two days to get his first kiss or he’ll be held back as part of the school district’s No Child Left Alone program and forced to wear his My.E.Q. Remote Monitoring collar through high school.
International Narrative Short Films
“ARIA” / Cyprus, France (Director and screenwriter: Myrsini Aristidou) — Athens, present day. Seventeen-year-old Aria, who is working at Jimmy’s kebab place, is waiting for a driving lesson with her father. DAY ONE
“Careful How You Go” / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Emerald Fennell) — A darkly comic three-part short film about malevolent women.
“Counterfeit Kunkoo” / India (Director and screenwriter: Reema Sengupta) — In a city that houses millions, Smita discovers a strange pre-requisite to renting a house in middle-class Mumbai. She would make an ideal tenant, except for one glaring flaw – she is an Indian woman without a husband.
“Deer Boy” / Poland, Belgium, Croatia (Director and screenwriter: Katarzyna Gondek) — A hunter’s son is born with antlers; a reflection on how each man kills the thing he loves.
“Fauve” / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Jérémy Comte) — Set in a surface mine, two boys sink into a seemingly innocent power game, with Mother Nature as the sole observer.
“The Fisherman” / Cuba, Netherlands, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ana Alpizar) — A humble Cuban fisherman is having a harsh winter on the open sea. For the sake of his family and against all odds, he needs to capture a fish tonight.
“For Nonna Anna” / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Luis De Filippis) — A trans girl cares for her Italian grandmother. She assumes that her Nonna disapproves of her – but instead discovers a tender bond in their shared vulnerability.
“Fry-Up” / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Charlotte Regan) — An intimate portrayal of what could be a family’s last day together, set against the urban backdrop of North London.
“Garfield “/ United Kingdom (Director: Georgi Banks-Davies, Screenwriter: Myra Appannah) — Krishna wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy. As she pieces together how she got there, she realizes that the reasons may be bigger than just the night before. DAY ONE
“Matria” / Spain (Director and screenwriter: Álvaro Gago) — Faced with a challenging daily routine, Ramona tries to take refuge in her relationships with her daughter and granddaughter.
“The Right Choice” / United Kingdom (Director: Tomisin Adepeju, Screenwriter: Vijay Varman) — With the help of an adviser, a husband and wife must answer three seemingly harmless questions to create their perfect designer baby.
“Set me as a Seal Upon Thine Heart” / Israel (Director and screenwriter: Omer Tobi) — A gay sauna encounter between a young man and an older man becomes an unexpected lesson about love.
“SWAMP” / Colombia (Director and screenwriter: Juan Sebastián Mesa) — Oscar and his family live in a humble country house threatened by a massive hydroelectric project. In the face of uncertainty and sorrow that means leaving the land where they were born, his grandparents decide to end it all.
“THURSDAY NIGHT” / Portugal (Director and screenwriter: Gonçalo Almeida) — An elusive stranger pays Bimbo a visit in the middle of the night to deliver a vital message.
“The Turk Shop” / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Bahar Pars) — A comedy about structural racism at the workplace.
“Would You Look at Her” / Macedonia (Director and screenwriter: Goran Stolevski) — A hard-headed tomboy spots the unlikely solution to all her problems in an all-male religious ritual.
“Wren Boys” / United Kingdom (Director: Harry Lighton, Screenwriters: Harry Lighton, John Fitzpatrick) — On the day after Christmas, a Catholic priest from Cork drives his nephew to prison.
Check out the rest of the Shorts lineup, including Animated and Documentary picks.