2018 Sundance Film Festival picks 69 short films for a variety-filled program

Shorts chosen from 8,740 submissions — narratives, documentaries and animated works — sent from around the world.

(Mark Johnson | courtesy Sundance Institute) Kanchana Ketkew appears in Marc Johnson's "Ultraviolet," which will screen in the Shorts programs of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Makers of 69 short films defied long odds by getting their works chosen for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

The 69 films, whose titles were announced Wednesday, were selected from 8,740 films submitted to the festival. That means for every short film that got in, 127 didn’t.

Some shorts are showcases for well-known actors. Carrie Coon (“Gone Girl,” “The Post”), India Menuez (“Nocturnal Animals”), Missi Pyle (“GalaxyQuest”) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”) each appear in a short film in the festival.

Behind the camera, the most notable name is Dev Patel, the star of “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Lion,” who directs the short “Home Shopper.” Susan Bay Nimoy, widow of “Star Trek” star Leonard Nimoy, makes her directing debut with the story of a widow, “Eve.” Director Shaka King (“Newlyweeds,” SFF ’13) is back with a short, as are the veteran documentary team of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (“The Times of Harvey Milk, SFF ’85).

For knowledgeable film buffs, the highlight of the Shorts programs will be Don Hertzfeldt’s “World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts.” It’s a follow-up to Hertzfeldt’s acclaimed 2015 animated science-fiction tale of a sad clone going back in time to talk to the 4-year-old original version of herself.

Hertzfeldt’s short is one of six that will play in a program on Sundance’s opening night, Jan. 18. The rest will screen in programs throughout the festival, which runs through Jan. 28.

How to Sundance<br>When • Jan. 18-28<br>Where • Park City and venues in Salt Lake City and the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.<br>Passes and ticket packages • On sale at sundance.org/festivals. <br>Individual tickets • Go on sale starting Jan. 16; $25 for the first half of the festival in Park City (Jan. 18-23), $20 for Salt Lake City screenings and for the second half in Park City (Jan. 24-28).<br>Information sundance.org/festivals

Here are the short films selected for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, with synopses provided by the Sundance Institute:

U.S. Narrative Short Films

(Alexa Lim Haas | courtesy Sundance Institute) The life of a Chinese manicurist in Miami is captured in Alexa Lim Haas' "Agua Viva," which will screen in the Shorts programs of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

“Agua Viva” • Written and directed by Alexa Lim Haas. “A Chinese manicurist in Miami attempts to describe feelings she doesn’t have the words for.”

“The Blazing World” • Written and directed by 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/United States) • Written and directed by 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” • Written and directed by 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” • Written and directed by 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” • Written and directed by 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” • Directed by Carey Williams, written by 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” • Directed by Jessica Sanders, written by Joanne Giger. “A lonely man goes to the pet store and buys a tiny man in a cage.”

“Eve” • Written and directed by Susan Bay Nimoy. “Eve, a 74-year-old widow after 30 years of marriage, journeys through grief, sexual passion and renewal.”

“Great Choice” • Written and directed by Robin Comisar. “A woman gets stuck in a Red Lobster commercial.”

“Hair Wolf” • Written and directed by 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/United States) • Directed by Dev Patel, written by 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” • Written and directed by Shaka King. “Ask your doctor if LaZercism is right for you.”

“Maude” • Written and directed by 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” • Directed by Jordan Firstman, written by Firstman and 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)” • Written and directed by Shaandiin Tome. “On her last day, Ruby faces the inescapable remnants of alcoholism, family and culture.”

“Painting with Joan” • Directed by Jack Henry Robbins, written by Robbins and Nunzio Randazzo. “Today on ‘Painting with Joan’: a mixture of fun, learning and cobalt blue.”

“Ultraviolet” • Written and directed by 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. Interspecies sociability, the Anthropocene and speculative Fabulations unfold in a futuristic and enchanted world.”

“War Paint” • Written and directed by 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 Fourth of July holiday.”

“Wyrm” • Written and directed by 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

( Courtesy Sundance Institute) Audrey Giacomini appears in Myrsini Aristidou's "Aria," which will screen in the Shorts programs of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

“Aria” (Cyprus/France) • Written and directed by 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) • Written and directed by Emerald Fennell. “A darkly comic three-part short film about malevolent women.”

“Counterfeit Kunkoo” (India) • Written and directed by Reema Sengupta. “In a city that houses millions, Smita discovers a strange prerequisite 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) • Written and directed by Katarzyna Gondek. “A hunter’s son is born with antlers; a reflection on how each man kills the thing he loves.”

“Fauve” (Canada) • Written and directed by 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/United States) • Written and directed by 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) • Written and directed by 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) • Written and directed by 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) • Directed by Georgi Banks-Davies, written by 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) • Written and directed by 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) • Directed by Tomisin Adepeju, written by 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) • Written and directed by Omer Tobi. “A gay sauna encounter between a young man and an older man becomes an unexpected lesson about love.”

“Swamp” (Colombia) • Written and directed by 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) • Written and directed by Gonçalo Almeida. “An elusive stranger pays Bimbo a visit in the middle of the night to deliver a vital message.”

“The Turk Shop” (Sweden) • Written and directed by Bahar Pars. “A comedy about structural racism at the workplace.”

“Would You Look at Her” (Macedonia) • Written and directed by Goran Stolevski. “A hard-headed tomboy spots the unlikely solution to all her problems in an all-male religious ritual.”

“Wren Boys” (United Kingdom) • Directed by Harry Lighton, written by Lighton and John Fitzpatrick. “On the day after Christmas, a Catholic priest from Cork drives his nephew to prison.”

Documentary Short Films

(Kamau Bilal | courtesy Sundance Institute) Filmmaker Kamau Bilal documents his little brother, Ismaeel Bilal, moving back in with their parents, in "Baby Brother," which will screen in the Shorts programs of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

“Baby Brother” • Written and directed by Kamau Bilal. “The director’s baby brother moves back in with his parents.”

“The Driver Is Red” • Written and directed by Randall Christopher. “Argentina, 1960: a true crime story of how secret agent Zvi Aharoni hunts down one of the highest-ranking Nazi war criminals on the run.“

“End Game” • Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. “Filmed and edited in intimate vérité style, this work follows visionary medical practitioners who are working on the cutting edge of life and death — and dedicated to changing our thinking about both.”

“I Like Girls” (Canada) • Written and directed by Diane Obomsawin. “Charlotte, Mathilde, Marie and Diane reveal the nitty-gritty about their first loves, sharing funny and intimate tales of one-sided infatuation, mutual attraction, erotic moments and fumbling attempts at sexual expression.”

“Intimity” (Switzerland) • Written and directed by Elodie Dermange. “As she is showering, dressing, putting on her makeup, a woman bares her soul.”

“Judith Loves Martha” • Written and directed by Anna Gaskell. “A wily 87-year-old New Yorker, Judith Godwin is one of very few women of the Abstract Expressionist Movement. A creative awakening in college led her to produce the brilliant, gestural paintings for which she is renowned.”

“Julius Caesar Was Buried in a Pet Cemetery” • Written and directed by Sam Green. “A short documentary portrait of the greatest pet cemetery in the world.”

“My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes” (Canada) • Directed by Charlie Tyrell, written by Josef Beeby and Tyrell. “Filmmaker Charlie Tyrell seeks to better understand his emotionally distant late father through the personal belongings he left behind … including a stack of VHS dirty movies. Narrated by David Wain.”

“A Night at The Garden” • Directed by Marshall Curry. “Months before the start of World War II, 22,000 Americans gathered in New York’s Madison Square Garden to rally in support of Nazism.”

“Nuuca” (United States/Canada) • Directed by Michelle Latimer. “The oil boom in North Dakota has brought tens of thousands of new people to the region, and with that has come an influx of drugs, crime and sex trafficking.”

“RX Early Detection: ​A​ ​Cancer​ ​Journey​ ​with​ ​Sandra​ ​Lee”​ • Written and directed by Cathy Chermol Schrijver. “The intense journey of a woman stunned when her routine annual mammogram delivers a cancer diagnosis. This film is unafraid to battle cancer directly, projecting a power to inspire, educate, destigmatize and effect change.”

“Symphony of a Sad Sea” (Mexico) • Written and directed by Carlos Morales. “Hugo, a Mexican child and victim of the violence, flees his hometown with one single dream: crossing to the United States to meet his father and leave his past behind.”

“The Trader (Sovdagari)” (Georgia) • Written and directed by Tamta Gabrichidze. “Gela sells secondhand clothes and household items in places where money is potatoes.”

“The Violence of a Civilization Without Secrets” • Written and directed by Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil and Jackson Polys. “An urgent reflection on indigenous sovereignty, the undead violence of museum archives and post-mortem justice through the case of the ‘Kennewick Man,’ a prehistoric Paleoamerican man whose remains were found in Kennewick, Washington state, in 1996.”

“Volte” (Poland) • Written and directed by Monika Kotecka and Karolina Poryzala. “Zuzia, 12, has been training for two years and has an extraordinary role topping the acrobatic pyramid. At the start of a new season, it’s clear that she’s lost some grace and lightness. A growth spurt may be the culprit.”

“Wild Wild West: A Beautiful Rant by Mark Bradford” • Directed by Dime Davis. “A rumination on formative moments in the artist’s life, the process of his work and what it all means.”

“Zion” • Written and directed by Floyd Russ. “A portrait of Zion Clark, a young wrestler who was born without legs and grew up in foster care.” DAY ONE

Animated Short Films

( | courtesy Sundance Institute) An image from Tomasz Popakul's "Black," which will screen in the Shorts programs of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

“Black” (Poland/Japan) • Written and directed by Tomasz Popakul. “A pair of astronauts are trapped on an orbital space station due to unexpected nuclear war on Earth. They lost contact with Earth, and all attempts to communicate with their base or anybody else have failed.”

“A Brief Spark Bookended by Darkness” • Written and directed by Brent Green. “A hand-drawn animated tale about love in an increasingly dark world.”

“The Burden” (Sweden) • Written and directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr. “A dark musical enacted in a modern shopping center, situated next to a large freeway. The employees of the various commercial venues deal with boredom and existential anxiety by performing cheerful musical turns. The apocalypse is a tempting liberator.”

“Eye Bags” (Hong Kong) • Written and directed by Waikwan Ho. “Through monologue, Talia describes her chronic insomnia. She does not know its cause and spends many painful nights awake. When Talia meets Ah Gum, a goldfish who lives in her eye bags, they develop an interesting relationship.”

“Glucose” • Written and directed by Jeron Braxton. “Sugar was the engine of the slave trade that brought millions of Africans to America. Glucose is sweet, marketable and easy to consume, but its surface satisfaction is a thin coating on the pain of many disenfranchised people.”

“Hedgehog’s Home” (Canada/Croatia) • Written and directed by Eva Cvijanović. “In a lush and lively forest lives a hedgehog. Though he’s respected by the other animals, Hedgehog’s devotion to his home annoys a quartet of beasts, who decide to confront him.”

“Jeom” (United States/South Korea) • Written and directed by Kangmin Kim. “A father and a son both have the same big birthmark on their butt. Believing that the two birthmarks are connected, the son scrubs his father’s birthmark to remove it — but he just can’t get rid of it.”

“Manivald” (Estonia/Croatia/Canada) • Directed by Chintis Lundgren, written by Lundgren and Draško Ivezić. “Manivald is still living at home with his retired mother. The day before his 33rd birthday a hot young wolf named Toomas comes to fix their washing machine. A love triangle develops, which leaves Manivald increasingly frustrated.”

“Marfa” (United Kingdom) • Written and directed by Greg McLeod, Myles McLeod. “An isolated town in the Texas borderlands. A place out of time. A shrine to minimalist art. Home to a remote festival. A place where unexplained lights tremble in the night sky. And then there’s the giant lemon.”

“Nevada” • Written and directed by Emily Ann Hoffman. “A young couple’s romantic weekend getaway is interrupted by a birth-control mishap in this stop-motion animated comedy.”

“[O]” (United Kingdom) • Written and directed by Mario Radev and Chiara Sgatti. “A film that imitates nature in its manner of operation, depicting animated cycles in a world entirely based on sound frequency and vibration.”

“Plur” • Written and directed by Julie Fliegenspan. “A claymation adaptation of a series of actual voicemails received after making out with someone at a rave.”

“The Shivering Truth” • Directed by Vernon Chatman and Cat Solen, written by Chatman. “An omnibus of painfully riotous daymares, dripping with dream logic; a slate of emotional parables from the deepest caverns of your unconscious, lovingly animated in stop-motion. In other words: It is the Truth.”

“Vox Lipoma” (Sweden) • Written and directed by Jane Magnusson and Liv Strömquist. “A short about Ingmar Bergman’s power, sexuality and facial lipoma that gives him no rest.”

“World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts” • Written and directed by Don Hertzfeldt. “Written entirely around candid audio recordings of Don Hertzfeldt’s 5-year-old niece, ‘Episode Two’ finds Emily Prime swept inside the brain of an incomplete backup clone of her future self, who’s on a mission to reboot her broken mind.” DAY ONE