Shorts are in many ways a rite of passage for budding filmmakers. They’re made of mistakes, charm and life—and with the realities of cost, time and effort. And some directors break through to showcase at Sundance Film Festival, where they have the chance of catching the eye of the person (or company) that will fund their next project. These are 10 Sundance shorts by directors who went on to make names for themselves–and as an added bonus, you can watch them all right now online. Enjoy!
Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival is a crucible for industry trends and finding emerging talent. Festival watchers tend to focus on the weak economic prospects for many of the films showcased in Park City. The independent marketplace is slowly evolving, but there was plenty to see. So what if no one film galvanized the festival the way BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD and FRUITVALE STATION did in recent years? The festival probably erred in starting off with its best offering, jazz thriller WHIPLASH. No other film topped the buzz generated by this one.
Sundance Review: Fela Kuti’s Wild Life of Sex, Drugs, and Afrobeat Takes Center Stage in FINDING FELA
FINDING FELA, prolific documentarian Alex Gibney’s latest work, faces the challenge of depicting a contradictory artist. But that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. On the contrary, the film — about the life, times and music of Afrobeat superstar and Nigerian revolutionary Fela Kuti — is exceptionally watchable. Kuti’s wild life never loses its surprise ingredients: from the time he married 27 girls in one ceremony to his involvement with a “spiritual guru” who slit throats for party demonstrations. The film’s challenge lays in its difficult hero, an enormously talented and charismatic man who was also troubled, stubborn, unpredictable, and probably not entirely sane.
Sundance: Aaron Paul on Why He’ll Never Be the Next Tom Cruise and Resurrecting Jesse Pinkman for AMC
Aaron Paul is not Jesse Pinkman. Thanks to five trailblazing seasons on Breaking Bad, it’s damn near impossible not to think of Paul as anyone else. But as he stressed to Indiewire in Park City, the deeply troubled Pinkman is his “opposite.” The same goes for the alcoholic father he plays in Kat Candler’s scorching directorial debut, HELLION, which premiered in competition here at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival late last week.
Only three weeks into 2014, Elisabeth Moss has already won a Golden Globe for TOP OF THE LAKE, world premiered two films at the Sundance Film Festival, and shot some scenes for the upcoming final season of Mad Men. Talk about a great way to kick off the new year.
Sundance Review: You’ve Never Seen a Vampire Movie Like the Beautiful, Touching A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, Produced By Elijah Wood
For centuries, vampires have provided handy metaphors for social and physical dilemma, but in the stylishly muted deadpan romance A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, the threat is personal. Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour’s stunning debut, produced by Elijah Wood, follows the experiences of a small Iranian town haunted by a vampiric presence who’s just as lonely as the other locals.
Sundance Review: Despite a Hilarious Setup, Madeleine Olnek’s THE FOXY MERKINS Is a Disappointing Sophomore Effort
In 2011, Madeleine Olnek’s debut feature, CODEPENDENT LESBIAN ALIEN SEEKS SAME, premiered at Sundance to positive (if ultimately limited) reception. Made on a shoestring budget, (think space ships made out of tin foil), the warm and witty spoof on sci-fi B-movies firmly established the writer-director’s singular comedic sensibility. In her follow-up, THE FOXY MERKINS, Olnek turns the male hustler genre on its head to imagine what a lesbian prostitution ring in might look like.
Sundance Review: Ten Years Since Zach Braff Brought GARDEN STATE to Sundance, With WISH I WAS HERE, Has Anything Changed?
“I want to make more movies like GARDEN STATE. I mean, Woody Allen was my hero. He’s someone who, in his heyday, in the era of his films that I love the most, was making movies that were just taking the social temperature of his group of people in New York City, and I’d like to make more movies like that for people my age.”
—Zach Braff, 2004
A decade has passed since actor-writer-director Zach Braff made the above declaration in an Indiewire interview at the Sundance Film Festival. Despite his idealism, Braff wouldn’t succeed at directing another feature for a full 10 years, but his wish finally reached its completion this past week at the Sundance Film Festival, with the world premiere of WISH I WAS HERE, the widely documented Kickstarter-backed comedy in which he also stars.
Watch the EXCLUSIVE video premiere of Damon Albarn’s ‘Everyday Robots.” Directed by Aitor Throup. Pre-order the album here.
Sundance Review: Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig Are As You’ve Never Seen Them In Otherwise Conventional ‘The Skeleton Twins’
Outside of their Saturday Night Live work, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig have delivered some of their best performances onscreen together, in ADVENTURELAND and PAUL (they even both scored scene-stealing voice cameos in Spike Jonze’s HER). Even so, their chemistry in Craig Johnson’s THE SKELETON TWINS is something altogether different: These are serious dramatic roles with dark comedic ingredients that take them out of the farcical realm and allow them to craft fully realized characters.
Sundance Review: J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller Impress With a Ferocious Student-Teacher Dynamic in WHIPLASH
BY EMMA MYERS Legend has it that Charlie Parker only became Bird because Jo Jones furiously threw a cymbal at his head when he choked on stage. At least that’s the story Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the barbarous band conductor in Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH, uses to justify the emotional and physical abuse he subjects his students…
Sundance Review: Kristen Stewart Is Admirably Serious But Can’t Salvage Mopey Gitmo Drama CAMP X-RAY
Before her gig in the TWILIGHT franchise turned Kristen Stewart into a global celebrity, she had already established herself as a noteworthy screen presence in much smaller projects, with her serious, distant gaze making her ideally positioned to play lost and frustrated young women. There’s a glimmer of that subdued talent in CAMP X-RAY, the debut feature of writer-director Peter Sattler that finds Stewart in the excessively unglamorous role of a Guantanamo Bay guard. Unfortunately, Sattler’s frustratingly on-the-nose screenplay — which finds Stewart’s character forming an unlikely bond with an uncooperative detainee (Peyman Moadi) — only succeeds at emphasizing her talent in an otherwise half-baked drama.
“If people really got to know who you are, it could be a successful campaign,” Craig Romney says to his father near the beginning of MITT, when the family’s gathered for the holidays in 2006, discussing the pros and cons of Mitt Romney running for president. Seven years on, the statement serves as a retroactive laugh line. Who, among his detractors or his supporters, felt like they really got to know Romney, a candidate who was broadly categorized for changing his positions on issues, and who came across as so stiff some jokingly likened him to a robot?
Since making her Sundance debut with HUMPDAY in 2009, writer-director Lynn Shelton’s steady output of work has accumulated into a distinctive brand. Always set in and around Seattle and starring either Mark Duplass (HUMPDAY) or Rosemary Dewitt (TOUCHY FEELY)—or, at her best, both of them (YOUR SISTER’S SISTER)—Shelton’s films are distinguished by their improvisational style and a tone that lies somewhere between laid back and extremely uncomfortable. Her latest film, LAGGIES, marks the first time she’s directed a film whose script she didn’t personally pen. Although the story by Andrea Seigel is more tightly constructed (and much more neatly wrapped up) than Shelton’s own improvised scripts, the story of arrested development in extremis fits neatly into the director’s oeuvre.
Brit Marling, Elizabeth Olsen, Edward Burns, Terrence Howard and Gabourey Sidibe all came to Park City as relative unknowns and emerged as highly sought-after talents. With the 2014 edition of the Sundance Film Festival launching tomorrow, the springboard is loaded. Here’s Indiewire’s picks for the 10 actors to watch this year.
Sundance Regular Mark Duplass Explains How the Festival Changed His Life And What to Expect From Him This Year
Back in January 2005, Mark Duplass and his brother Jay Duplass debuted their first feature length film, THE PUFFY CHAIR, at the Sundance Film Festival. That fateful night in Park City would spark a career that has seen the duo flourish into two of the most influential names in American independent film. Writing and directing studio projects CYRUS (2010) and JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (2011) as well as executive producing the films of other budding filmmakers, the Duplass Brothers have become a staple at Sundance. Mark has also blossomed into a bona fide leading man in the indie world, starring in recent Sundance hits YOUR SISTER’S SISTER and SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED. Adding to his ubiquity is a starring role in FX comedy The League and his upcoming HBO series Togetherness, which he created with his brother.
With the 2014 Sundance Film Festival kicking off tonight, the quality of this year’s lineup will gradually emerge in our daily coverage. However, for buyers at the festival, the question is less about the quality of various movies and more about their marketability. While the festival runs ten days, only a handful of movies in the main lineup have generated serious interest for distributors at this early stage. Here’s a look at ten contenders.
Sundance Institute today announced the addition of two films to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: WISH I WAS HERE (Director: Zach Braff) to the Premieres section and CLERKS (Director: Kevin Smith) for a special From the Collection midnight screening. The 2014 Festival will be January 16-26 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
Sundance Institute Announces Nine Films and Art House Theaters for Sundance Film Festival USA on January 30
Sundance Institute Announces Nine Films and Art House Theaters for
Sundance Film Festival USA on January 30
Ann Arbor, MI | Boston, MA | Chicago, IL | Houston, TX
Nashville, TN | Orlando, FL | San Francisco, CA | Seattle, WA | Tucson, AZ
Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the films from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival that will each screen in one of nine independent theaters in cities across the country on January 30 as part of the Sundance Film Festival USA initiative. These audiences will share in the excitement of discovery of a film fresh from its world premiere at the 2014 Festival and hear directlyfrom the filmmaker during a pre-screening introduction and post-screening Q&A. The filmmaker travel to these cities is courtesy of the Festival’s Official Airline Sponsor, Southwest Airlines.
Sundance Institute today announced that the newly restored Hoop Dreams (1994) will screen in the From the Collection program at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, 20 years after the film made its world premiere at the 1994 Festival.
SUNDANCE INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES SHORT FILM PROGRAM FOR 2014 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
30th Anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival
Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the program of short films selected to screen at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, January 16-26 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The 2014 Short Film program is comprised of 66 short films selected from a record 8,161 submissions (59 more than for the 2013 Festival).
Trevor Groth, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival, said, “The Short Film program for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival features an astonishing array of new stories, viewpoints and filmmaking talent, positioning it at the core of our work to discover and share independent perspectives on our culture and world.”
Sundance Institute announced today the films selected to screen in the out-of-competition Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, January 16-26 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
Sundance Institute announced today the films and installations to be featured in the 2014 edition of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival, including the U.S. premiere of The Source (evolving) by renowned artist Doug Aitken and a 3D projection-mapping project by Klip Collective. The Festival takes place January 16-26 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
Sundance Institute announced today the films selected to screen in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival out-of-competition sections Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and new ‘Sundance Kids’ section of films for younger audiences. The Festival takes place January 16-26 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
SUNDANCE INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES FILMS IN U.S. AND WORLD COMPETITIONS, NEXT<=> FOR 2014 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 30th Anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival will Feature 117 Feature-Length Films Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the films selected for the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions and the out-of-competition NEXT <=> section of…