2015 SUNDANCE SHORTS

Showcasing a wide variety of story and style, the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour is an 83-minute theatrical program of six short films that won awards at this year’s Festival, which over the course of its more than 30-year history has been widely considered the premier showcase for short films and the launchpad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers. Including fiction, documentary and animation from around the world, the distinct 2015 program traverses vibrant styles from wild comedy to quiet poetry. Each breaks through its limited timeframe with a high level of artistry and story that will resonate with audiences long after it ends.

 

Program

World of Tomorrow
Short Film Jury Award (Best of Fest)
Written and directed by Don Hertzfeldt. U.S.A., 17 minutes.
A little girl is taken on a mind-bending tour of the distant future.

SMILF
Short Film Jury Prize: US Fiction
Written and directed by Frankie Shaw. USA, 9 minutes.
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.

Oh Lucy!
Short Film Jury Prize: International Fiction
Written and directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi. Japan/Singapore/U.S.A, 22 minutes.
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.

The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul
Short Film Jury Prize: Non-Fiction
Written and directed by Kitty Green. Russian and Ukrainian, 7 minutes.
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.

Storm hits jacket
Short Film Jury Prize: Animation
Written and directed by Paul Cabon. 2014, France, 13 minutes.
A storm reaches the shores of Brittany. Nature goes crazy, and two young scientists get caught up in the chaos. Espionage, romantic tension, and mysterious events clash with enthusiasm and randomness.

Object
Short Film Special Jury Prize for Poetic Vision
Written and directed by Paulina Skibinska. Poland, 15 minutes.
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.

“Anthologies offer short films an escape from the festival circuit and a chance to show regular moviegoers the rewards of discipline and constraint — even when their titles, like “2015 Sundance Film Festival Award-Winning Shorts,” reveal neither attribute.

It’s cheering, though, to see that four of the six shorts represented here were written and directed by women, including the lone documentary, “The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul,” by the Australian filmmaker Kitty Green. Capturing a handful of glowing, sequined young beauties as they audition for the role of the champion figure skater, Ms. Green, who has personal and artistic roots in Ukraine, gently reveals the emotional rubble of war and displacement.

Mental turmoil of a different sort drives the compendium’s strongest narrative entries. In Frankie Shaw’s “SMILF” — currently being developed as a cable television comedy — a young single mother tries to use a booty call with an old flame (the charmingly gauche Thomas Middleditch of “Silicon Valley”) to reconnect with her former freedoms and self-esteem. And in the strangely moving “Oh Lucy!,” a middle-aged office worker in Tokyo is startled when her English teacher’s unconventional tutelage stirs up unfamiliar longings. Touching lightly on the dehumanizing drills of cubicle life, this endearing story (by the director Atsuko Hirayanagi) reminds us that the answer to “What’s in a name?” can be “Anything we want.”

These days, no mini-movie compilation feels complete without the animator Don Hertzfeldt, whose dreamy “World of Tomorrow” sends us into a future where deteriorating copies of humanity seek answers that only their original selves can provide. A trippy meditation on the significance of memory, the film turns a meeting between a toddler and her third-generation clone into a sad song of innocence and experience.”- NY Times