2022 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Plugs: None. Nearest: the Guild Cinema.
One of my favorite things to watch at the Guild theater and film festivals is the short film programs. Many people never get to see short films because mainstream theater chains typically want to sell seats for 100-minute Hollywood blockbusters, not shorter programs of eclectic —and admittedly at times necessarily uneven— short films from around the world.
The 2022 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour is now available, featuring seven shorts ranging from fictional animation to narrative documentary. They are as follows.
Goodbye Jerome! is an animated French film about a man who arrives in paradise (or Heaven, it’s not clear) in search of his beloved wife, Maryline. After some surreal adventures and encounters reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, he finds her —but circumstances have changed. Despite uneven animation quality and an unsatisfying ending, it’s a passable trifle.
Makassar Is a City for Football Fans, set in Makassar, Indonesia, follows a group of young male friends who hang out, make crude catcalls to girls, drink, and cheer on their favorite soccer teams. One of them, Akbar, struggles to fit in with his typically macho friends while harboring a secret attraction to one of them. The well-intentioned but middling film offers insight into casual homophobia and the difficulty of navigating both feelings and social norms.
In Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver—with characters portrayed by cut-out marionettes, screenwriter Sara Driver tells the improbable true story of her 1982 attempt to smuggle filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s second film Stranger Than Paradise —one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films of the era— across the Atlantic in exchange for an opportunity to fund her own film. Witty and engaging, it’s a great example of effective, low-budget filmmaking.
Training Wheels is a comedy about a socially awkward woman who seeks the services of a male companion —for a few days in order to help her prepare for an upcoming date. The bearded and bemused hunk hired for the job does his best. With great acting, emotional resonance, and sly humor, this is a standout of the program.
Warsha, a French/Lebanese production, follows a Syrian migrant in Beirut who volunteers for a dangerous job as a crane operator on a building high rise. Beautifully shot and conceived, what at first seems like an act of economic desperation is revealed to be an act of liberation.
You Go Girl! intercuts a nervous performance by a standup comedian (Tiffany Mann) overcoming her fears with her climbing a scenic Oregon mountain. The two storylines converge skillfully and emotionally to a satisfying and uplifting ending.
Perhaps the least coherent of the lot, If I Go Will They Miss Me tells the story of a Watts, California, boy interested in Greek mythology (and Pegasus in particular) who hears on the news about jet fuel being dumped over his neighborhood, and begins noticing people start acting like airplanes. With flying metaphors galore, I’m not really sure where this short was trying to go, but the flight got diverted somewhere along the way.
The program is playing for a limited time at the Guild; if you miss it, look for it online, and if you like shorts, also look for the annual Oscar Nominated Short Films and the Manhattan Short Film Festival programs as well, and Xerb.com.