News Column

Sundance short films long on variety, from serious to humorous

August 29, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 29--Short films -- how many have you seen? Mike Plante, short-film programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, says people watch more short films than they realize.

"People who haven't been exposed to short film, they'll spend a day on the Internet looking at films that are short. You'll watch TV. You'll go through things in life that are short-film content," he said.

"Short film is a vibrant art form, a way that tells a story, that people see every single day."Eight shorts shown at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival will be screened on Friday evening at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Plante helped select the program from the 80 shorts shown in January during Sundance. The program will be screened at 50 theaters throughout the nation, including the Wexner Center; he hopes to schedule another 20 screenings nationwide. When choosing shorts, Plante looks for a variety of film styles.

"We definitely want to have some serious stuff mixed in with comedy," he said. "Every program we do at the festival taps every type of genre. We like to take an audience on a roller-coaster ride, with a lot of different styles of filmmaking.

"It's not like it's a thinkin' man's game, either. I think expectations are always blown apart by a short-film program."

Although some of the short films won awards at Sundance, accessibility and diversity are the primary focus. Experimental, comedy and animation are part of the mix.

"We never say 'greatest hits' or 'best of' because that's all up to the viewer's taste," Plante said. "It's about getting a program that shows a range of what we do at the festival."

After a summer season of Hollywood movies, short films can provide a cinematic palate-cleanser.

"It's very refreshing," he said. "If you're a film nut, you may be seeing the next wave of filmmakers, whether you like mainstream stuff or art stuff."

The films screening during the 99-minute program and the short-film prize won at the 2013 Sundance festival:

--The Date (Jury Prize, international fiction): In the comedy from director Jenni Toivoniemi, a shy 16-year-old Finn must deal with two women who want to set up a mating appointment for his family's stud cat (8 minutes).

--The Event: Director Julia Pott based the film on a poem by Tom Chivers about love and the apocalypse (4 minutes).

--Irish Folk Furniture (Jury Prize, animation): In rural Ireland, furniture is kept in family homes for generations. Director Troy Donoghue shows 16 pieces of folk furniture being repaired (9 minutes).

--Jonah: Two young men in Zanzibar photograph a gigantic fish leaping from the sea, turning their town into a tourist attraction. Kibwe Tavares directed (23 minutes).

--K.I.T.: In director Michelle Morgan's film, a well-intentioned woman tries to keep in touch with every person she meets (16 minutes).

--Skinningrove (Jury Prize, nonfiction): American director Michael Almereyda interviews photographer Chris Killip as he shares unpublished images shot in the 1980s of the residents of a remote fishing village in northern England (15 minutes).

--Until the Quiet Comes (Special Jury Prize): Director Kahlil Joseph examines life, death, violence and friendship in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles (4 minutes).

--Whiplash (Short Film Jury Prize for American fiction): A young drummer at an elite conservatory must confront a brutal instructor. Director Damien Chazelle is reportedly planning to shoot a feature film based on the short (18 minutes).

tmikesel@dispatch.com

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