With less than two months until Park City’s streets and paths will be teeming with Hollywood types, the 2017 Sundance Film Festival today unveiled its last slate announcement: the Short Films. Featuring the directorial debut of Kristen Stewart, a look at Nirvana’s classic tune “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and various perspectives on Donald Trump’s America, the 68 shorts on the slate are many ways is the heart of the Robert Redford-founded fest’s original intention.
“Each year we see more short films from around the country and from more regions around the world, which is exciting as we want to discover new voices to support,” says SFF Senior Programmer Mike Plante of the program presented by YouTube. “This year’s crop captures the full spectrum of what short films can be: emotional, hilarious, horrifying and touching — sometimes all at once.”
Sundance 2017 runs January 19-29 with screenings and events in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Mountain Resort. Deadline co-Editor-in-Chief Mike Fleming Jr. and I will be leading our coverage on the films, the shows, the deals and everything else on the ground.
Sundance already revealed its U.S. Competition and World Cinema Competition Dramatic and Documentary categories plus NEXT and New Frontier announcements as well as its Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight, Kids and Special Events lineups.
Here’s the shorts categories unveiled today:
U.S. NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
American Paradise / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Joe Talbot) — A desperate man in Trump’s America tries to shift his luck with the perfect crime in this story inspired by true events.
Cecile on the Phone / U.S.A. (Director: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Screenwriters: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Ellen Greenberg) — Overwhelmed by doubt and confusion after her ex-boyfriend’s return to New York, Cecile embarks on a series of telephone conversations that serve only to distract her from the one conversation she really needs to have.
Come Swim / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kristen Stewart) — This is a diptych of one man’s day, half impressionist and half realist portraits.
GOOD CRAZY / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rosa Salazar) — A complex chick deals with a vanilla beau, a shitty brunch and a dead coyote all in a Los Angeles day. There’s batshit crazy and then there’s good crazy—she fits somewhere in between.
Hardware / U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Jacobson, Screenwriters: Ellen Stringer, Stephen Jacobson) — An amateur electronic-drum enthusiast travels to a housewares trade show looking to strike up the perfect business partnership. When things don’t go as planned, he finds himself at the mercy of the electronic drumbeat playing in his head.
Hold On / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Christine Turner) — Family bonds are tested when a young man is left to care for his grandmother one morning.
Hot Seat / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Anna Kerrigan) — Teenaged Andrea uses a male stripper to gain the respect and admiration of cool girl Daphne in this exploration of coming-of-age sexuality and teen girls’ complex relationships, based on a true story.
I Know You from Somewhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Fitzgerald) — A young woman incurs the wrath of the internet after she inadvertently becomes a viral sensation.
Kaiju Bunraku / U.S.A. (Directors: Lucas Leyva, Jillian Mayer, Screenwriter: Lucas Leyva) — Here’s a day in the life of a husband and wife living in a world of giant monsters.
Laps / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Charlotte Wells) — On a routine morning, a woman on a crowded New York City subway is sexually assaulted in plain sight.
LostFound / U.S.A. (Director: Shakti Bhagchandani, Screenwriters: Shakti Bhagchandani, Emre Gulcan) — This story portrays a day in the life of a woman in the Nation of Islam.
Lucia, Before and After / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Anu Valia) — After traveling 200 miles, a young woman waits out Texas’s state-mandated 24-hour waiting period before her abortion can proceed.
New Neighbors / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: E.G. Bailey) — How far will a mother go to protect her children?
Night Shift / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marshall Tyler) — Get a glimpse into a day in the life of a bathroom attendant in a Los Angeles nightclub.
Rubber Heart / U.S.A. (Director: Lizzy Sanford, Screenwriters: Lizzy Sanford, Anna Cordell) — After a painful dry spell, a woman attempts to have a one-night stand.
Shinaab / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lyle Corbine) — A young Anishinaabe man struggles with his place in the inner city of Minneapolis.
Toru / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Jonathan Minard, Scott Rashap) — An infant’s life is transformed by a new technology.
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
5 Films About Technology / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Peter Huang) — Take a satirical look at the dumber side of technology.
And so we put goldfish in the pool. / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Makoto Nagahisa) — One summer day, 400 goldfish were found in the swimming pool of a secondary school. This is a story about the four 15-year-old girls who put them there.
And The Whole Sky Fit In The Dead Cow’s Eye / Chile, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Francisca Alegría) — Emeteria is visited by the ghost of her patrón, Teodoro. She believes he has come to take her to the afterlife—but he has more devastating news.
Dadyaa — The Woodpeckers of Rotha / Nepal, France (Directors and screenwriters: Pooja Gurung, Bibhusan Basnet) — Atimaley and Devi’s village is haunted by memories. When a dear friend leaves the village without saying goodbye, the old couple faces a dilemma: keep living with the memories or leave the village for good?
Dawn of the Deaf / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Rob Savage) — When a strange sound wipes out the hearing population, a small group of deaf people must band together to survive.
Dear Mr. Shakespeare / United Kingdom (Director: Shola Amoo, Screenwriter: Phoebe Boswell) — An exploration of Shakespeare’s intentions when writing Othello explores the play’s racial themes in historical and contemporary settings, and draws wider parallels between immigration and blackness in the UK today.
The Geneva Convention / France (Director and screenwriter: Benoit Martin) — As Hakim is waiting for the bus after class, he is caught in a vendetta between teenagers. He’s not exactly keen to be involved, but can he avoid it?
HEAT / Poland (Directors and screenwriters: Agata Trzebuchowska, Mateusz Pacewicz) — A young boy does an unusual favor for a friend, assuming his identity to visit his senile grandmother. The woman takes him for a walk, and tells him about the biggest mystery of her life.
Kao Shi (A Test) / China (Director and screenwriter: Zuxiang Zhao) — In a small-town high school, days before the college entrance exam, teacher Chen Jun finds out that the father of his most promising student has died in a mining accident. Telling him—or not—bears heavy consequences.
MappaMundi / Austria (Director and screenwriter: Bady Minck) — Through the eyes of cosmic cartographers, the viewer takes a voyage through 950 million years of Earth history and 15,000 years of cartography. This accelerated journey visualizes the change in our world—a change unnoticeable in a single lifetime.
Mare Nostrum / France, Syrian Arab Republic (Directors: Rana Kazkaz, Anas Khalaf, Screenwriter: Rana Kazkaz) — On a Mediterranean shore, a Syrian father makes a decision that puts his daughter’s life at risk.
Pedro / Portugal (Directors and screenwriters: André Santos, Marco Leão) — Pedro gets home at dawn. Before the young boy falls asleep, his lonely mother drags him to the beach.
Slapper / Australia (Director: Luci Schroder, Screenwriters: Luci Schroder, Sam West) — A broke and rebellious teen navigates a suburban wasteland, hustling money for the morning-after pill—before it’s too late.
What Tears Us Apart / France (Director and screenwriter: Wei Hu) — A Chinese couple visits the daughter they gave up for adoption 30 years ago. While meeting the French adoptive parents, language barriers become apparent and the birth mother’s hidden emotions rise to the surface.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS
Alone / U.S.A. (Director: Garrett Bradley) — This investigation into the layers of mass incarceration and its shaping of the modern black American family is seen through the eyes of a single mother in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bayard & Me / U.S.A. (Director: Matt Wolf) — Walter Naegle’s boyfriend, Bayard Rustin, was a famous civil rights activist 30 years Walter’s senior. In the 1980s, Bayard decided to adopt Walter for legal protection. This love story is about a time when gay marriage was inconceivable.
Close Ties / Poland (Director: Zofia Kowalewska) — Barbara and Zdzislaw will soon celebrate their 45th anniversary—despite their constant bickering, and the fact that Zdzislaw spent eight of those years living with another woman. This is a portrait of a relationship that, somewhat inexplicably, perseveres.
Deer Squad: The Movie / U.S.A. (Directors: Pipus Larsen, Kenneth Gug, Scott J. Ross) — Kelvin Peña, a charismatic 17-year-old from rural Pennsylvania, shares his story of going viral after befriending a group of wild deer in his backyard.
The Diver / Mexico (Director: Esteban Arrangoiz) — Julio César Cu Cámara is the chief diver in the Mexico City sewer system. His job is to repair pumps and dislodge garbage that flows into the gutters to maintain the circulation of sewage waters. THE NEW CLIMATE
Fish Story / United Kingdom (Director: Charlie Lyne) — Behind a fishy tale lies this search for the truth.
Hairat / Ethiopia (Director: Jessica Beshir) — This is a visual and lyrical exploration of the nightly ritual between a man in Eastern Ethiopia and his feral companions.
Legal Smuggling with Christine Choy / U.S.A. (Director: Lewie Kloster) — Academy Award–nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy undergoes an adventure of wild proportions when she accidentally smuggles cigarettes.
My Father’s Tools / Canada (Director: Heather Condo) — Stephen continues producing traditional baskets to honor his father and thus finds peace in his studio as he connects with the man who taught him the craft.
Project X / U.S.A. (Directors: Laura Poitras, Henrik Moltke) — A top secret handbook takes viewers on an undercover journey to the site of a hidden partnership. Based on NSA documents, this film reveals the inner workings of a windowless skyscraper in Manhattan.
The Rabbit Hunt / U.S.A. (Director: Patrick Bresnan) — On the weekends during the harvest season, 17-year-old Chris and his family hunt rabbits in the sugarcane fields of the Florida Everglades.
Ten Meter Tower / Sweden (Directors: Maximilien Van Aertryck, Axel Danielson) — People who have never been up a 10-meter diving tower must choose whether to jump or climb down in this entertaining study of people in a vulnerable position.
Tough / United Kingdom (Director: Jennifer Zheng) — New light is shed on childhood cultural misunderstandings when a Chinese mother and her British-born daughter speak as adults for the first time. Some things can only be understood with maturity.
Visions of an Island / U.S.A. (Director: Sky Hopinka) — Indigenous and foreign presences coexist on an Alaskan island in the center of the Bering Sea. THE NEW CLIMATE
Waiting for Hassana / Nigeria (Director: Ifunanya Maduka) — In 2014, 276 teenage girls came together for exams in Chibok, Nigeria—by dawn, nearly all had disappeared, and their school was burned to the ground. Jessica, an escapee, shares her haunting account of a friendship violently interrupted by Boko Haram.
White Riot: London / United Kingdom (Director: Rubika Shah) — In 1977, immigration divides Britain. What happens when a punk fanzine challenges the status quo? MIDNIGHT SHORT FILMS
Do No Harm / New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Roseanne Liang) — 3:00 a.m., 1980s Hongjing: In an aging private hospital, a single-minded surgeon is forced to break her physician’s oath when violent gangsters storm in to stop a crucial operation.
Fucking Bunnies / Finland (Director: Teemu Niukkanen, Screenwriters: Antti Toivonen, Teemu Niukkanen) — Raimo’s comfortable, middle-class bubble is burst when a Satan-worshipping sex cult moves in next door.
Hot Winter: A film by Dick Pierre / U.S.A. (Director: Jack Henry Robbins, Screenwriters: Jack Henry Robbins, Nunzio Randazzo) — One of the first films in American cinema to address climate change, Hot Winter: A film by Dick Pierre, was also a hardcore porno. All sex scenes have been removed as to not distract from the conscious message. THE NEW CLIMATE
A Nearly Perfect Blue Sky (Un ciel bleu presque parfait) / France (Director and screenwriter: Quarxx) — You might think that Simon lives a monotonous life, but you would be wrong—contrary to appearances, he doesn’t live alone among the ruins of an old farm. Between kidnapper and guardian angel, he never takes his eyes off his roommate.
Pussy / Poland (Director and screenwriter: Renata Gasiorowska) — Alone at home one evening, a young girl decides to have a solo pleasure session—but not everything goes according to plan.
The Robbery / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Cummings, Screenwriters: Jim Cummings, Dustin Hahn) — Crystal robs a liquor store—it goes pretty OK.
Summer’s Puke Is Winter’s Delight / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Sawako Kabuki) — Painful events become memories over time. Still, we vomit and eat again. Life is eco.
ANIMATED SHORT FILMS
The Bald Future / France (Director and screenwriter: Paul Cabon) — Being a bald man sucks. Knowing you’ll become one is worse.
Black Holes / U.S.A., France (Directors and screenwriters: David Nicolas, Laurent Nicolas) — Dave is about to lead the first mission to Mars when he’s teamed up with a sentient melon, who claims to be the reincarnation of a fashion designer, upstaging his big moment and driving him to the brink of madness.
Broken – The Women’s Prison at Hoheneck / Germany (Directors: Volker Schlecht, Alexander Lahl, Screenwriters: Alexander Lahl, Max Mönch) — This animated documentary about Hoheneck, the main women’s prison in former East Germany, is based on original interviews with former inmates. It’s a film about political imprisonment, forced labor and enormous profits on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Drawn & Recorded: Teen Spirit / U.S.A. (Director: Drew Christie, Screenwriters: Drew Christie, Bill Flanagan) — This is the story behind one of the most iconic songs ever written, animated in the style of a pop-up book.
How’s your prostate? / France (Directors: Jeanne Paturle, Cécile Rousset, Screenwriters: Jeanne Paturle, Cécile Rousset, Cécile Mille) — One friend tells the other about the very strange time when, beside a swimming pool, she learned about her father’s prostate, his erectile function and his nighttime fantasies.
It’s a Date / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Zachary Zezima) — This film explores miscommunication, perceptions and vulnerability in the modern world. Everyone is an alien at first.
Jonas and the Sea / Netherlands (Director: Marlies Van der Wel, Screenwriters: Ruben Picavet, Marlies Van der Wel) — Jonas has dreamed of living in the sea all his life, but it’s impossible. Or is it?
The Laughing Spider / Japan (Director: Keiichi Tanaami) — The early childhood memory of aerial attacks leaves a lasting impression, with strong stimulus and disquiet.
LOVE / France, Hungary (Director and screenwriter: Réka Bucsi) — Abstract haiku-like situations reveal the changing atmosphere on one planet caused by a meteoric impact in a distant solar system. Inhabitants on this pulsing planet become one with each other, in various ways, in this three-chapter exploration of affection.
Nighthawk / Slovenia, Croatia (Director: Špela Čadež, Screenwriters: Gregor Zorc, Špela Čadež) — Attempting to remove an unresponsive badger from a dark road, a police patrol soon realizes that the animal is not dead but rather dead drunk. Things take an even stranger turn when the creature wakes up.
Nutag — Homeland / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Alisi Telengut) — This hand-painted visual poem explores the ideas of diaspora, homeland and the mass deportations of the Kalmyk people during World War II.
Summer Camp Island / U.S.A., South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Julia Pott) — Oscar and his best friend, Hedgehog, just got dropped off at summer camp. Once the parents leave the island, the strangeness lurking beneath the surface is revealed—aliens exist, horses become unicorns and there are monsters under the bed.
Trumpet Man / Hong Kong (Director and screenwriter: Emily Wong) — A turntable springs out a woman named Avocado; her instinct creates a man called Soul. Passion swings both, and an uncertain madness strikes Soul heavily. Seeds of passion breed conflict among five men, eventually leading Soul to a deeper understanding of life.
Victor & Isolina / U.S.A. (Director: William Caballero) — Creatively visualized through 3D printing, two elderly Latinos embark on a resonating he said/she said account of the events that led them to live separately after more than 50 quirky and stressful years together.