While the vast majority of the 72 short films programmed to play over the next week and half in Park City will be world premieres, Sundance has long been a pioneer among festivals by embracing online films in their lineups (despite popular belief it really isn’t rare these days). As content production in the short form is increasingly diversified from the type of independent work the festival specializes in, Sundance is cognizant about the need to stay relevant by featuring work coming from MCNs, online publishers, and brands. Looking at the type of online work they select is an interesting peek into the programmers’ thought processes regarding the current state of content.
For the rest of us, it’s simply a treat to partake in the festival in a limited way. You can attend a Sundance screening virtually by checking out these five official selection shorts. For more watching, check out our collection of Sundance-screened shorts from prior years here.
DEAR MR. SHAKESPEARE
Dir: Shola Amoo
This work comes out of the Shakespeare Lives 2016 project, a unique production of the British Council and GREAT, which commissioned a series of Shakespeare-inspired shorts throughout the year in part to mark the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death. This piece, from NFTS-grad Shola Amoo, ended up being the breakout hit of the series, bringing a Phoebe Boswell script—one which grapples with the racial tensions and legacies inherent in Othello—to life.
IT’S A DATE
Dir: Zachary Zezima
Zachary Zezima is a young and gifted animator out of the CalArts scene who has been on our radar for a couple of years with a prolific series of stylistically promising short form pieces. It’s a Date is a culmination of his preoccupations, a weird but humanistic look at a couple on a first date. It seems to be going well until the man decides to really open up and get (sur)real. Now graduated, Zezima is a founder of Circle Line, an inter-disciplinary collective with a Short of The Week-featured music video to its name.
Dir: Matt Larsen & Kenneth Gug
Super Deluxe, a digital studio under Turner Broadcasting, caps off its first year of existence with three projects at Sundance: The Chances, a dramedy series in development for TV, Bayard & Me, a 16min doc from Matt Wolf, and this short piece, a brief, irreverent, look a newly minted Instagram star who found his fame by befriending a tribe of friendly deer. It’s short and sweet, and while not notable in terms of craft or subject, it’s a bite-sized good time.
Dir: Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke
For the second year in a row, Sundance will showcase a short from Field of Vision, the documentary outfit created by filmmaker Laura Poitras (Citizenfour), AJ Schnack (Cinema Eye Honors) and programmer Charlotte Cook (former head of Hot Docs) which is dedicated to defiant political journalism. Lending their star power to Project X via voiceover are Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea), in a piece that dives moodily into the surveillance state, examining the NSA’s dealings with a major US telecom.
Drawn & Recorded: Smells Like Teen Spirit
Dir: Drew Christie
Seattle-based Drew Christie is a regular at Sundance, and a regular on Short of the Week. The idiosyncratic animator has a knack for applying his anachronistic style to contemporary storytelling, and while this story—a commissioned piece by the streaming music service Spotify—is a bit slight at just over three minutes, our unending fascination with Kurt Cobain means that we couldn’t help ourselves from being entertained by it.