Sundance Short Film jurors K.K. Barrett, Alia Shawkat and Autumn de Wilde have announced their winners.
SHORT FILM GRAND JURY PRIZE
Don Hertzfeldt‘s World of Tomorrow. “To date, the peak of Hertzfeldt’s work has been the triptych feature It’s Such A Beautiful Day, about one man’s fear that he won’t be able to control his genetic predisposition to mental illness,” wrote the Dissolve‘s Noel Murray on his first day at Sundance. And with World of Tomorrow, Hertzfeldt “may have topped” himself. “Visually, the film continues Hertzfeldt’s recent trend toward density. He starts with his usual spare lines, as a toddler named Emily, punching away at some kind of electronic device, is visited by an adult clone of herself from a distant, forbidding future. As the future-Emily describes the extreme social stratification and continued blurring of the lines between technology and biology in her culture, the animation becomes more colorful and trippy, as Hertzfeldt himself mixes cutting-edge techniques with hand-drawn characters.”
“There are more big ideas packed into this 16 minute film than there are in most major studios’ entire catalog of science fiction,” writes Dan Schindel at Movie Mezzanine. “Here the traditionally analog filmmaker has embraced digital for the first time. The result allows his animated creativity to flourish, untethered by restraint. Vivid color shifts and zany geometric designs rove our view. There is so much packed into each shot, yet it never feels confused or overwhelming.” And “there’s no irony in World of Tomorrow’s ultimate point: that the only things that are truly valuable, in the end, are our memories. That is, after all, what we as sentient beings are made of. No matter how we evolve, our emotional cores will persist.”
“Hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure,” agrees David Ehrlich, who interviews Hertzfeldt for Little White Lies.
Update, 1/31: “Had I never seen Hertzfeldt’s work before, odds are my brain would have been totally fried,” writes Mike D’Angelo at the Dissolve. “Unfortunately (if that’s the right word), his 2006 short Everything Will Be OK, which makes up the first part of the compilation feature It’s Such a Beautiful Day, is one of my 10 favorite films of all time… which means that everything else he does now gets judged by an impossible standard. So, no, World of Tomorrow isn’t on that insanely rarefied level, making it a ‘disappointment.’ But, yes, it’s utterly fantastic, in terms of both of its pseudo-primitive visual style (stick figures in abstract sci-fi landscapes) and its poignant juxtaposition of innocence and sad experience.”
Update, 2/21: Alison Willmore talks with Hertzfeldt for Buzzfeed.
SHORT FILM JURY AWARD: U.S. FICTION
Frankie Shaw’s SMILF. From the festival: “A young single mother struggles to balance her old life of freedom with her new one as mom. It all comes to a head during one particular nap-time when Bridgette invites an old friend over for a visit.”
SHORT FILM JURY AWARD: INTERNATIONAL FICTION
Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Oh Lucy! “Setsuko, a 55-year-old single so-called office lady in Tokyo, is given a blonde wig and a new identity, Lucy, by her young unconventional English-language teacher. ‘Lucy’ awakens desires in Setsuko she never knew existed.”
SHORT FILM JURY AWARD: NON-FICTION
Kitty Green’s The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul. “Adorned in pink sequins, little girls from across a divided, war-torn Ukraine audition to play the role of Olympic champion figure skater Oksana Baiul, whose tears of joy once united their troubled country.”
SHORT FILM JURY AWARD: ANIMATION
Paul Cabon’s Storm hits jacket. “A storm reaches the shores of Brittany. Nature goes crazy, two young scientists get caught up in the chaos. Espionage, romantic tension, and mysterious events clash with enthusiasm and randomness.”
SHORT FILM SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR ACTING
Cécile Ducrocq’s Back Alley. “Suzanne, a prostitute for 15 years, has her turf, her regular johns, and her freedom. One day, however, young African prostitutes settle nearby, and she is threatened.”
SHORT FILM SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR VISUAL POETRY
Paulina Skibińska’s Object. “A creative image of an underwater search in the dimensions of two worlds—ice desert and under water—told from the point of view of the rescue team, of the diver, and of the ordinary people waiting on the shore.”
The Sundance 2015 Index. For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @KeyframeDaily. Get Keyframe Daily in your inbox by signing in at fandor.com/daily.