Festival announces lineup of short docs, including one where pork product is key
A nonagenarian Jewish woman prepares to eat bacon for the first time.
A Japanese race horse sporting an epic losing streak.
Armed with peashooters, people on Gibraltar attempt to control an unruly group of monkeys.
These are thumbnails for a handful of short documentaries that will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. There are more sobering themes as well, including a short about a teenage Syrian refugee and a woman who writes a letter to the man who abused her when she was a child.
Academy Award-nominated writer-director Jason Reitman enters the Doc Shorts program with Roast Battle, which focuses on the Comedy Store's roast night. Ten years ago he debuted his breakthrough film Thank You For Smoking at Sundance.
The full lineup of Documentary Shorts as announced by Sundance:
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS
Another Kind of Girl / Jordan (Director: Khaldiya Jibawi) — Filmed during a media workshop for Syrian girls in Jordan's Za'atari Refugee Camp, 17-year-old Khaldiya meditates on how the camp has opened up new horizons and given her a sense of courage that she lacked in Syria.
Bacon & God's Wrath / Canada (Director: Sol Friedman) — A 90-year-old Jewish woman reflects on her life experiences as she prepares to try bacon for the first time.
Beneath the Embers (Bajo las Brasas) / Mexico (Directors and screenwriters: Verónica Jessamyn López Sainz, Andrea Fuentes Charles) — Isabel, a young woman from the Sierra mountains of Guanajuato, is motivated by the love of her family, and she has learned that she must sacrifice her present in order to value tomorrow’s success and achieve her dreams.
Chekhov / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jack Dunphy) — I called my sister (who's kind of a bitch, but also really cool) and secretly recorded her reading a love letter from this girl that just dumped me. The conversation went from funny to unbearably sad—hanging up was hard.
Entrapped / U.S.A. (Director: Razan Ghalayini) — The FBI claimed it exposed a dangerous group of men in a massive entrapment operation over an alleged plot to attack a U.S. Army base in New Jersey. But were they really terrorists?
Figure / Poland, Belgium (Director and screenwriter: Katarzyna Gondek) — A gigantic figure emerges from the snow and sits on a hill with spiders, saints, and bumper cars in this surreal tale about creating myths, religious kitsch, and the desire for greatness. Meet the world's largest sacral miniature park resident.
Flower of a Thousand Colours / Belgium (Director: Karen Vazquez Guadarrama) — Flower of a Thousand Colours shows an intimate slice of the life of Emiliana, a loving mother who struggles every day with her rough environment—a Bolivian mining camp.
Jáaji Approx. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sky Hopinka) — Against landscapes that the artist and his father traversed, audio of the father in the Ho-Chunk language is transcribed using the International Phonetic Alphabet, which tapers off, narrowing the distance between recorder and recordings, new and traditional, memory and song.
I Am Yup'ik / U.S.A. (Directors: Daniele Anastasion, Nathan Golon) — A 16-year-old Yup'ik Eskimo leaves his tiny village and travels across the frozen tundra to compete in an all-Yup'ik basketball tournament and bring pride to his village.
Mining Poems or Odes / United Kingdom, Scotland (Director: Callum Rice) — Robert, an ex-shipyard welder from Govan, Glasgow, reflects on how his life experiences have influenced his newfound compulsion to write.
Peace in the Valley / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher) — Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is home to both the largest outdoor Passion Play in the United States and an important vote on LGBT rights. This film follows the town's inhabitants as they prepare for the historic vote.
Roast Battle / U.S.A. (Director: Jason Reitman) — The most bigoted room is the least bigoted room. Watch one night at the Comedy Store's Roast Battle.
The Saint of Dry Creek / U.S.A. (Director: Julie Zammarchi) — Patrick Haggerty was a teenager in rural Dry Creek, Washington, in the late 1950s. Here, he remembers the day he first had a conversation with his father about being gay.
The Send-Off / U.S.A. (Directors: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan) — Emboldened by a giant block party on the evening of their high school prom, a group of students enters the night with the hope of transcending their rural town and the industrial landscape that surrounds them.
The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mickey Duzyj) — Haru Urara, a Japanese racehorse, became a national icon after enduring a losing streak of epic proportions. Dubbed "The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere," she was a symbol of perseverance and inspiration during a time of economic crisis.
Speaking is Difficult / U.S.A. (Director: AJ Schnack) — This film always begins in the present day. A scene of tragedy unfolds, accompanied by fear, chaos, and disbelief. As it rewinds into the past, retracing our memories, it tells a cumulative history that is both unbearable and inevitable.
Territory / United Kingdom (Director: Eleanor Mortimer) — This warm and lyrical film follows a group of unruly monkeys in Gibraltar and the people employed to control them with peashooters.
A Woman and Her Car / Canada (Director: Loïc Darses) — December 31, 2003: Lucie decides to write a letter to the man who abused her from the age of 8 to 12 years old and resolves to personally bring it to him, wherever he may be.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.