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A&E Blog

Sundance 2010: Shorts Start

by Scott Renshaw
- Posted // 2010-01-22 -

Contributed by Jeremy Mathews

Sundance Film Festival's opening night has, in all previous festivals, consisted of one big screening. This year, the programmers shook things up by playing films from both the US Dramatic and Documentary competitions (Howl and Restrepo, respectively) and, most unexpectedly, a shorts program.

While Shorts Program I played at the smaller Egyptian Theatre instead of the Eccles, where the other two screenings took place, the festival organizers wanted to make clear that they weren't merely paying lip service to films that run under an hour. Robert Redford came down for the introduction and stated explicitly that the shorts program would from here on be part of the opening night.

The program included two domestic and two international efforts, spanning documentary, drama and animation, and was one of the most consistently entertaining collections of shorts I've seen at the festival.

Where the Wild Things Are director Spike Jonze was the event's starlet, debuting his new short I'm Here. It tells a funny and poignant  love story between two robots with full personalities and feelings, despite their purpose to do only menial chores. The character design is the real star of the show, conveying amazingly clear emotions while only moving only the robots' eyes and straight-line mouths.

Swedish director Patrik Eklund stole the show with Seeds of the Fall, an absurd comedy of domestic surprises filled with sight gags and unexpected turns. If he can cross his short-length talents over to his in-the-works feature, it could be a smash at a Sundance to come.

Rory Kennedy (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib from Sundance 2007) showed her latest HBO project, The Fence. While structurally unwieldy, Kennedy brings pointed humor and smart editing to this examination of the waste of money that is the United States' security fence on the Mexican border. Yes, the builders really did leave mile-long gaps in the fence that they have no plans to fill.

The trio of French directors known as H5 premiered the animated short Logorama, which is 1,000 copyright lawsuits waiting to happen. It depicts a world, and impending disaster, using nothing but the logotypes of all your favorite corporations. Hopefully these guys have skilled fair-use attorneys so we can see the movie after Sundance.

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