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Sundance 2021: Short Film Showcase – Shorts 1

To see the rest of my Sundance Festival Coverage, click here.

The festival has already begun and even with the few options of features that were showing on day one, there were plenty of shorts on offer. Today, we cover seven films as part of the Shorts 1 selection.

Without further ado, here are my reviews.

Five Tiger

Director: Nomawonga Khumalo
Writer: Nomawonga Khumalo
Starring: Fumani Shilubana, Ayanda Seoka, Manzi Biyela

Synopsis: South Africa, present day. A god-fearing woman finds herself in a transactional relationship as she tries to support her sick husband and daughter.

This is a great concept for a film with some heartbreaking themes running throughout. The individual shots of the lead cutting away and providing for her family are so powerful and moving. I do wish that this was perhaps longer, allowing us to get to know more about her family, but overall this is a nice selection.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

BJ’s Mobile Gift Shop

Director: Jason Park
Writer: Jason Park
Starring: Johnnyboy Tellem, Soonshim Shin, Gwangwee Jung
Synopsis: A young Korean-American hustler runs throughout the city of Chicago making sales out of his “mobile gift shop”.

The first short of the Sundance Film Festival and what a charming, little one it was. The way the film opens with BJ’s first customer is brilliant, and yet it is also able to have lovely emotional moments throughout to balance with the humour. A great concept for a short film and even if some sequences drag or don’t fully land, still a lovely short that deserves to be shown.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Yoruga

Director: Federico Torrado Tobón
Writer: Federico Torrado Tobón
Starring: Octavio Solorio, Tanya Carmona Daniels, Jaime Durán

Synopsis: A lonely old man pays a visit to Yoruga, one of the last animals on Earth.

This is definitely a unique sort of short film that is quite well made. The cinematography is wonderful and the production is well done, bringing this story to life. I’m not sure if the execution of the script meets its full potential, but I love when people take a risk with their storytelling and this is exactly that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Bruiser

Director: Miles Warren
Writer: Miles Warren
Starring: J.D. Williams, Noble Whitted

Synopsis: After his father gets into a fight at a bowling alley, Darious begins to investigate the limitations of his own manhood.

This is a short with wonderful performances leading the way, particularly from the young boy. There is a strong message here and some powerful moments, but I do feel the story becomes disjointed at times and sometimes chooses style over the narrative. Still got a lot to enjoy in it, even if I found it hard to connect with.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Flex

Directors: Josefin Malmén, David Strindberg
Writers: Josefin Malmén, David Strindberg
Starring: Calle Bolund

Synopsis: A body-builder’s internal monologue grows more intense as he flexes in front of a mirror.

I am already going to bet that this is the weirdest short film at Sundance this year. I have no idea what happened or what the purpose was and I am just incredibly confused. This is going to be a film that people either love or hate. For me, it didn’t land but I appreciate the risks of this short film.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Bambirak

Director: Zamarin Wahdat
Writer: Zamarin Wahdat
Starring: Lara Cengiz, Merle Collet, Kailas Mahadevan

Synopsis: When 8-year-old Kati from Afghanistan stows away in her father’s truck, Faruk must juggle his responsibilities as a single dad while holding down his first job in a new country.

This is a really lovely short film about the relationship between a father and daughter. Whilst it may not present new ideas, it is so easy to fall in love with this story and these characters. The editing is well done, I love the warm atmosphere of the cinematography and lighting and it is such an easy and enjoyable watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma

Directors: Topaz Jones, rubberband.
Writers: Topaz Jones, rubberband.
Starring: Topaz Jones, Black Thought

Synopsis: In 1970, Black educators in Chicago developed an alphabet flashcard set to provide Blackcentered teaching materials to the vastly white educational landscape and the Black ABCs were born.

A really creative short film that has plenty of style and passion put behind it. Some of the sections are so incredibly done, whilst others didn’t work as well. It does stretch a little unnecessarily long and I could have done without the interview sequences, but this is a great concept and visually stunning.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


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