Sundance Unveils 2019's Indie Episodic, Shorts, and Special Events Programming
The best things in life, often come in small packages. Case in point, the shorts and episodic program at the Sundance Film Festival. After announcing the 112 feature films selected for the upcoming festival last week, the Sundance Institute just added to the excitement by releasing the line-up for Shorts, Indie Episodic, and Special Events. “This year’s crop of shorts are rowdy, reflective, visionary—we are excited to discover so many new voices and perspectives on today’s world," says Senior Programmer Mike Plante.
Competition was, of course, fierce with only 73 shorts being chosen from a total of 9,443 submissions. Even more impressive is how much this section fights back against the inequities of the film industry. More than half the projects selected for the Shorts, Indie Episodic, and Special Events programming were directed or created by one or more women (53%), and directed or created by one or more filmmaker of color (51%); 26% of the selections were created by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA.
Find the full list of films below:
A dedicated showcase for emerging creators of independently produced episodic content for broadcast, web, and streaming platforms. Past projects that have premiered within this category include I’m Poppy, Mr. Inbetween and America to Me.
Bootstrapped / U.S.A. (Creator: Danielle Uhlarik, Director: Stephanie Laing) — Best friends Madeline and Aimee are underdog entrepreneurs who launch a fashion and tech startup out of a garage in their hometown of Kansas City. The duo’s overly positive attitude convinces two other coders to join them on their broke-ass entrepreneurial journey to make BitchThatWouldLookBetterOnMe.Com a household name. Cast: Danielle Uhalrik, Maribeth Monroe, Sam Richardson, Kezii Curtis, Nancy Lenehan, Erika Alexander. World Premiere
Delhi Crime Story / India (Director and screenwriter: Richie Mehta) — Following the Delhi Police during their investigation of a horrific gang rape of a young woman on a bus in 2012. Based on actual events and case files.Cast: Shefali Shah, Rasika Dugal, Rajesh Tailang, Adil Hussain, Gopal Datt, Vinod Sherawat. World Premiere
Delivery Girl / U.S.A (Director and screenwriter: Kate Krieger) — Tricia is a woman struggling with her identity, living in a fiercely Catholic household leading a double life, selling drugs to make ends meet and carrying on an affair. She fights for the courage to embrace her future as the first of many delivery girls. Cast: Kate Krieger, Adam LeFevre, Liz Larsen, Joe Holt. World Premiere
Don't Hug Me I'm Scared / United Kingdom (Creators and screenwriters: Becky Sloan, Joseph Pelling, Baker Terry) — In the small town community of Clayhill, roommates Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Duck live simple, uneventful lives - until Mayor Pigface disappears. Cast: Baker Terry, Joseph Pelling, Becky Sloan. World Premiere
The Dress Up Gang / United States (Creators: Robb Boardman, Cory Loykasek, Donny Divanian, Executive Producers: Dave Kneebone, Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim) — Donny, a responsible adult with the innocence and outlook of a child, relies on guidance and life advice from his friend Cory, the dad-like thirtysomething who has been crashing on his couch for quite some time. Cast: Donny Divanian, Cory Loykasek, Frankie Quinones, Andie MacDowell, Christian Duguay, Brent Weinbach. World Premiere
Girls Weekend / U.S.A. (Director: Kyra Sedgwick, Creator: Ali Liebegott) — When a queer daughter returns home to Las Vegas for a “girls weekend” with her estranged homophobic sister and people-pleasing mother, her gun-toting dad lets it slip that her mother’s cancer is back with a vengeance, forcing her to decide whether or not she can rejoin her family. Cast: Ali Liebegott, Linda Lavin, Amy Landecker, Ken Jenkins. World Premiere
It's Not About Jimmy Keene / U.S.A. (Creator: Caleb Jaffe, Executive Producers: Jim Frohna, Diana Kunce) — The police shooting of an unarmed black teen reveals deep divisions within a mixed race family. Ivan, the youngest sibling, stalked by visions of Jimmy Keene’s floating corpse, is torn between opposing worldviews of his two older sisters. Cast: Caleb Jaffe, Roger Guenveur Smith, Gabrielle Maiden, Okwui Okpokwasili, Ayana Peters, David Warshofsky. World Premiere
Maggie / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sasha Gordon) — A darkly comedic series about a struggling new mom who ditches her dreary postpartum group for the stand-up comedy class next door. In the pilot episode, Maggie struggles with inappropriate fantasies about her live-in nanny. Cast: Christine Woods, David Walton, Maddison Ridley, Veronica Mosey, Dina Hashem, Jon Bander. World Premiere
Quarter Life Poetry / U.S.A. (Creator: Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr., Screenwriter: Samantha Jayne) — Poems for the young, broke and hangry. Cast: Samantha Jayne, Tori Ward, Meredith Thomas, Hailey Harris, Samantha Dockser, Tyler Haines. World Premiere
State of the Union / United Kingdom (Creator: Nick Hornby, Director: Stephen Frears) — Every week before their weekly marital therapy session, estranged couple Tom and Louise meet at a pub to try and get their story straight for the therapist. With each successive episode we piece together how their lives were, what drew them together and what has started to pull them apart. Cast: Rosamund Pike, Chris O'Dowd. World Premiere
Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men / U.S.A. (Director: Sacha Jenkins, Executive Producers: Peter J Scalettar, Peter Bittenbender, Chris Gary) — The cultural history of Wu-Tang Clan; artists who escape the poverty, violence, and oppression of their neighborhoods through music. They encounter wild success and heartbreak along the way to becoming the most recognized musical movement in the world -- all while walking the tightrope that links business with brotherhood. Cast: All members of the Wu-Tang Clan. World Premiere
Work In Progress / U.S.A. (Creators and screenwriters: Abby McEnany, Tim Mason) — After her therapist dies mid-session and she begins to date a trans man, Abby is forced to re-evaluate her life choices, her dating options and whether or not to confront the woman responsible for 'ruining her life': SNL's Julia Sweeney. Cast: Abby McEnany, Theo Germaine, Karin Anglin, Celeste Pechous, Julia Sweeney, Alison Gates. World Premiere
One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience. Past projects that have played in this category include Wild Wild Country, Top of the Lake, O.J.: Made in America, and The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.
Documentary Now! Season 52 Preview
Lorena / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Joshua Rofé, Steven J Berger, Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, Thomas Lesinski, Jenna Santoianni) — 25 years after the notorious case of John and Lorena Bobbitt, this groundbreaking series re-investigates the story that made international headlines and helped birth a 24-hour news cycle, exploring vital moral issues and the missed opportunity for a national discussion about domestic violence and sexual assault within this American scandal.World Premiere
Now Apocalypse / U.S.A. (Director: Gregg Araki, Executive Producers: Gregg Araki, Gregory Jacobs, Steven Soderbergh) — Ulysses and his friends are trying to navigate Los Angeles, as they pursue love, sex and fame. Between dating app adventures, Ulysses grows increasingly troubled as foreboding dreams make him paranoid -- or maybe he's just smoking too much weed. Cast: Avan Jogia, Kelli Berglund, Beau Mirchoff, Roxane Mesquida. World Premiere
Untitled Amy Berg Documentary / U.S.A. (Director: Amy Berg, Producers: Amy Berg, Paul McGuire, Ruchi Mital, Joy Gorman Wettels) — While the 2016 election catalyzed the Women’s March and a new era of feminist activism, Tamika Mallory and Erika Andiola have been fighting for their communities for decades. Their stories expose the fundamental connection between personal and political and raise the question: what's intersectionality and can it save the world? World Premiere
U.S. NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
America / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Garrett Bradley) — A cinematic omnibus rooted in New Orleans, challenging the idea of black cinema as a "wave" or "movement in time," proposing instead, a continuous thread of achievement. World Premiere
As Told To G/D Thyself / U.S.A. (Directors: Bradford Young, Terence Nance, Jenn Nkiru, Screenwriters: Terence Nance, Kamasi Washington, Bradford Young) — The cosmic journey of sacred youth, during which pain, pleasure and sublimation are non-negotiable. World Premiere
Crude Oil / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Christopher Good) — Jenny breaks free from a toxic friendship and learns to harness her magical, useless superpower. World Premiere
Fainting Spells / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sky Hopinka) — Told through recollections of youth, learning, lore, and departure, this is an imagined myth for the Indian Pipe Plant, used by the Ho-Chunk to revive those who have fainted.
Feathers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: A.V. Rockwell) — Elizier, an emotionally-dejected new enrollee at The Edward R. Mill School for Boys, must overcome memories of a tragic past and present hazing by his peers in order to tackle larger issues dominating his young life. DAY ONE
Fran This Summer / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mary Evangelista) — Teenage lovebirds Fran and Angie spend the summer at home while Fran begins their transition. They must face who and what they mean to each other when they visit the beach, their love on display for all to see.
Green / U.S.A. (Director: Suzanne Andrews Correa, Screenwriters: Suzanne Andrews Correa, Mustafa Kaymak) — Green, an undocumented Turkish pedicab driver, unwittingly draws police attention, endangering his brother, his community, and himself.
How Does It Start / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Amber Sealey) — With her self-absorbed parents distracted by their recent divorce, twelve-year-old Rain is left alone to navigate the complexities of love and adulthood, and learns to do it her own way. World Premiere
I Snuck Off the Slave Ship / U.S.A. (Directors: Lonnie Holley, Cyrus Moussavi, Screenwriters: Lonnie Holley, Cyrus Moussavi, Brittany Nugent, Matt Arnett) — Lonnie Holley, a "self-taught African American artist" and dimensional traveler, attempts to sneak off the slave ship America. World Premiere
Lavender / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Puccini) — A young gay man grows increasingly entangled in the marriage of an older couple. World Premiere. DAY ONE
Lockdown / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Celine Held, Logan George) — Struggling with feelings for her best friend, 14-year-old Marie stages an almost perfect plan. World Premiere
The MINORS / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Robert Machoian) — A slice of life about a grandpa and his grandsons, the future and the past. World Premiere
Old Haunt / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andre Hyland) — A procrastinating writer stays in an Airbnb to get some work done, but after an unexpected visitor arrives, he finds himself in an increasingly unsettling set of situations that he can't explain. World Premiere
One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: A.M. Lukas) — A lonely Czech refugee paints an all-too-appealing picture of her American life as she writes a letter begging an organization to send a Cambodian refugee family to resettle in her new, "dreamland" hometown: Fargo, North Dakota. DAY ONE
The Rat / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Carlen May-Mann) — It's Halloween night, and Renee is madly in love with Jim. On their way to a party, Jim detours to a haunted house, where Renee is forced to confront a terrifying situation. World Premiere
Shinaab, Part II / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lyle Corbine Jr.) — A look at Ojibwe ideas surrounding the death process, as a young man strives to honor his late father. U.S. Premiere
sometimes, i think about dying / U.S.A. (Director: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Screenwriters: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead, Kevin Armento) — Fran is thinking about dying, but a man in the office might want to date her. World Premiere
Squirrel / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Alex Kavutskiy) — A meager apology tests a woman's fortitude to forgive.
Suicide By Sunlight / U.S.A. (Director: Nikyatu Jusu, Screenwriters: Nikyatu Jusu, R. Shanea Williams) — Valentina, a day-walking Black vampire protected from the sun by her melanin, is forced to restrain her bloodlust to regain custody of her estranged daughters. World Premiere
Sundowners / U.S.A. (Director: Lisa Steen, Screenwriters: Anna Greenfield, Jessy Hodges) — Ali and her father cook, drink, and ignore what’s going on in the next room. World Premiere
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
Acid / France (Director and screenwriter: Just Philippot) — A troubling cloud is taking shape somewhere out west. It’s now slowly moving inland, forcing the population to flee. As the cloud keeps on moving forward inescapably, panic strikes.
Adalamadrina / Spain (Director: Carlota Oms, Screenwriters: Joan Pàmies, Carlota Oms) — While she claims to be an expert in sex and love on YouTube, Ada can barely speak to her gym trainer, with whom she's madly in love. When she sets her sights on him, everything changes. International Premiere
Aziza / Syria, Lebanon (Director: Soudade Kaadan, Screenwriters: Soudade Kaadan, May Hayek) — A dynamic take on the life of Syrian refugees, told through black comedy. World Premiere
BAJO LA SOMBRA DEL GUACARI / Colombia (Director and screenwriter: Greg Méndez) — Dead bodies have washed upon the banks of the river. When Abraham finds out the one of them was his friend, he embarks on a journey to fulfill a promise that will take him to the Guacari tree. World Premiere
Birds in the Earth / Finland (Director and screenwriter: Marja Helander) — Examining the deeper questions of the ownership of Sami land through the ballet performances of two young dancers.
Brotherhood / Canada, Tunisia, Qatar, Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Meryam Joobeur) — When a hardened Tunisian shepherd's son returns home after a long journey with a new wife, tension rises between father and son. U.S. Premiere
Chowboys: An American Folktale / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Astron 6) — Things seem hopeless when three mysterious cowboys find themselves stranded on the coldest night in recorded history.
Desires of the flesh / Brazil (Director and screenwriter: Rafaela Camelo) — Blessed be the Sunday, that it is the day to see Giovana.International Premiere
Docking / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Trevor Anderson) — Trevor reflects on his fear of dating. World Premiere
Dunya's Day / Saudi Arabia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Raed Alsemari) — Abandoned by her domestic help, Dunya fights to throw the perfect graduation soirée. World Premiere. DAY ONE
El Verano del León Eléctrico / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Diego Céspedes) — Hidden in a house far from the city, a boy accompanies his sister as she becomes the seventh wife of a prophet who electrocutes anyone who touches him.
END / Cuba (Director: Yimit Ramírez, Screenwriters: Yimit Ramírez, Tatiana Monge) — Juan is dead. Surprisingly, he is given an opportunity: to relive a moment of his past life, but it will not be an ordinary moment. World Premiere
Fatherland / Georgia (Director and screenwriter: George Sikharulidze) — In 2016, on the 63rd anniversary of Stalin's death, his worshipers gather outside of his birthplace in Georgia to demand his canonization as a saint… when something uncanny materializes. DAY ONE
The Field / France, United Kingdom, India (Director and screenwriter: Sandhya Suri) — A poor agricultural laborer leads a double life in the village's last remaining cornfield. But the harvest is approaching.
Fuck You / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Anette Sidor) — Alice is together with Johannes but she doesn't have enough space to be herself. On a night out with friends, she steals a strap-on and challenges her boyfriend's thoughts about girls. U.S. Premiere
Hot Dog / Germany (Directors and screenwriters: Alma Buddecke, Marleen Valien) — Hannah, in a love-hate relationship with her vagina, chronicles how her feelings towards her sexuality have changed over time. Like that one moment when she discovered the vibration function of her PlayStation controller. International Premiere
Kado (A Gift) / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Aditya Ahmad) — Isfi can wear her comfortable pants among her male friends, but has to wear hijab to be accepted at Nita’s house. With two days until Nita’s birthday, all Isfi wants is to prepare the best gift in Nita’s room. U.S. Premiere
Manicure / Iran (Director and screenwriter: Arman Fayaz) — After the unexpected death of his wife, a man struggles to deal with the aftermath under the eyes of the local villagers.
The Silence of the Dying Fish / Greece, France (Director and screenwriter: Vasilis Kekatos) — On his way to work one morning, a fish farm worker is told that he died the day before. Failing to prove that he is alive, he spends his last day securing caretakers for his beloved canaries. North American Premiere
Those bad things / Italy (Director: Loris Giuseppe Nese, Screenwriters: Loris Giuseppe Nese, Chiara Marotta) — You cannot choose your parents. These are the thoughts of a daughter who can't rebel, as time slips by slowly both inside and outside their home in the Campania suburbs. International Premiere
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS
All Inclusive / Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Corina Schwingruber Ilić) — Under the spell of mass entertainment on the high seas.
Black 14 / U.S.A. (Director: Darius Clark Monroe) — An archival social study examining white pathology and cognitive dissonance via media coverage of a 1969 racial protest at the University of Wyoming.
Cablestreet / U.S.A. (Director: Meredith Lackey) — A cable system designed by controversial Chinese company Huawei Technologies enables communication between an expert and a machine. Time succumbs to space in a ‘New Cold War’ played out in technological materials. World Premiere
The Dispossessed / India (Director and screenwriter: Musa Syeed) — Hazari is a traditional faith healer, exorcising patients who've been possessed by jinn. But in Kashmir, amidst the world’s longest running conflict, nothing is as it seems. World Premiere
Dulce / U.S.A., Colombia (Directors: Guille Isa, Angello Faccini) — In coastal Colombia, facing rising tides made worse by climate change, a mother teaches her daughter how to swim so that she may go to the mangroves and harvest 'piangua' shellfish with the other women in the village.
Easter Snap / U.S.A. (Director: RaMell Ross) — With a baited handling of American symbolism, an examination of five Alabama men, who resurrect the homestead ritual of hog processing in the deep South under the guidance of Johnny Blackmon. World Premiere
Edgecombe / U.S.A. (Director: Crystal Kayiza) — Through the deeply personal truths of three local residents, an examination of the ways trauma repeats and reinvents itself in rural Black communities.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Sudden Birth* (*but were afraid to ask) / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Scott Calonico) — The true story of how the Berkeley Police Department, the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, and Mr. Spock from Star Trek are all connected by one of the most disturbing educational films ever created. World Premiere
FAST HORSE / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Alexandra Lazarowich) — The Blackfoot bareback horse-racing tradition returns in the astonishingly dangerous Indian Relay. Siksika horseman Allison Red Crow struggles with second-hand horses and a new jockey on his way to challenge the best riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy. U.S. Premiere. DAY ONE
The Ghost Behind / U.S.A. (Director: Caroline Rumley) — Four friends. Many bands. Expectations. Addiction. Loss.
Ghosts of Sugar Land / U.S.A. (Director: Bassam Tariq) — In Sugar Land, Texas, a group of young Muslim-American men ponder the disappearance of their friend “Mark,” who is suspected of joining ISIS. World Premiere
It's Going To Be Beautiful / U.S.A., Mexico (Directors and screenwriters: Luis Gutierrez Arias, John Henry Theisen) — The U.S. Border Patrol has been given the task of choosing a winning design for building a wall on the U.S.- Mexico border.
Libre / U.S.A. (Director: Anna Barsan) — Undocumented immigrants forced to spend months in detention are turning to private companies to secure their release on bond. In exchange, immigrants pay exorbitant monthly fees for a GPS ankle monitor they can't remove.
Life in Miniature / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Ellen Evans) — A celebration of one woman's mission to document the every day, as she carves a place for herself in the precious world of miniatures. U.S. Premiere
Life Overtakes Me / U.S.A. (Directors: John Haptas, Kristine Samuelson) — Facing deportation, hundreds of refugee children in Sweden have become afflicted with Resignation Syndrome, withdrawing from the world into a coma-like state, as if frozen, for months, or even years. World Premiere
STAY CLOSE / U.S.A., China (Directors and screenwriters: Shuhan Fan, Luther Clement) — The underdog story of a fencer from Brooklyn who overcomes a gauntlet of hardships on the road to the Olympics. World Premiere
Throat Singing in Kangirsuk / Canada (Directors: Eva Kaukai, Manon Chamberland, Screenwriters: Emilie Baillargeon and Clark Ferguson) — Eva and Manon practice the art of throat singing in their native Arctic land, in the small village of Kangirsuk. World Premiere
The Tough / Poland (Director and screenwriter: Marcin Polar) — A discovery arouses a man's imagination and propels him forward in an uncouth and obsessive way. Step by step, the camera participates as he explores of places hitherto unknown to humankind, which offer increasingly stronger resistance against human delicacy. World Premiere
ANIMATED SHORT FILMS
Acid Rain / Poland (Director and screenwriter: Tomek Popakul) — After running away from her depressing village in eastern Europe, a teenage girl meets a new friend under a bridge. International Premiere
Albatross Soup / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Winnie Cheung) — A dizzying descent into deductive reasoning based on an entertaining yet disturbing lateral thinking puzzle.
animistica / Austria, Germany, Mexico (Director: Nikki Schuster) — An expedition into rotting animal carcasses and rampant spider webs, accompanied by a gloomy drone like a swarm of hungry flies. Foraging around the borderlands of the horror genre in a kaleidoscope of ecology in all its horrifying beauty. North American Premiere
The Call / Romania, France (Director and screenwriter: Anca Damian) — A phone call, a bathroom and a woman are at the intersection of the world. U.S. Premiere
CHICHI / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Nessl) — My dog has dreams and he tells me about them. I made a movie about those dreams. This is that movie. U.S. Premiere
Count Your Curses / Belgium (Director and screenwriter: Lorène Yavo) — In a town where supernatural beings are part of everyday life, two roommates had their house spirit devoured overnight, again. They go on their way to find a replacement spirit and a solution to their pest problem.
Knockstrike / Spain (Directors and screenwriters: Marc Torices, Pau Anglada, Genis Rigol) — Two men accidentally exchange briefcases. One contains a videotape that will lead the new owner to embark on an unexpected journey to figure out what is in it.
Muteum / Estonia, Hong Kong (Director and screenwriter: Aggie Pak Yee Lee) — In an art museum, we learn -- from outer to inner, from deep to its deepest, seriously and sincerely. DAY ONE
OBON / Germany (Directors: André Hörmann, Anna Samo, Screenwriter: André Hörmann) — During the festival of Obon, one of the last survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima receives the spirits of her parents, and is haunted by memories.
OCTANE / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeron Braxton) — A man's street race through hell and back parallels the Black experience in America.
The Phantom 52 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Geoff Marslett) — Loneliness: a trucker who calls out on his CB radio waiting for a reply that never comes. A ghost that haunts the deserted highways. A whale that sings at a frequency no other whale can even hear. World Premiere
Reneepoptosis / U.S.A., Japan (Director and screenwriter: Renee Zhan) — Three Renees go on a quest to find God, who is also Renee. As they traverse the mountains and valleys of Renee, they discover all the great joys, sorrows, and mysteries of being Renee. U.S. Premiere
Sister / U.S.A., China (Director and screenwriter: Siqi Song) — A man thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently?
Under Covers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michaela Olsen) — On the night of a lunar eclipse, we uncover the sweet, salacious, and spooky secrets of a small town. From a pigtailed psychopath to naughty nuns, this stop-motion animated film conjures a comforting thought: that weird is relative. World Premiere
Untravel / Serbia, Slovakia (Directors: Ana Nedeljkovic, Nikola Majdak, Screenwriter: Ana Nedeljkovic) — A girl lives in an isolated country, enclosed by a huge wall. She has never traveled anywhere, but all her life she has dreamed of leaving forever for a perfect world called Abroad.