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Sundance 2021: Short Film Showcase – Shorts 2

We have a real mixed bag with the Shorts 2 collection as there are some wonderful shorts here, but also a few that sadly disappointed me. Without wasting your time, here are my reviews of all seven films in the Shorts 2 collection at Sundance 2021.

White Wedding

Director: Melody C. Roscher
Writer: Melody C. Roscher
Starring: Nabiyah Be, J. Smith-Cameron, Curtiss Cook

Synopsis: Amidst a racially tense Southern wedding, a biracial bride has the chance to confront her estranged Black after accidentally hiring his wedding band to perform.

A short in which I had no idea what way the story would go, keeping me emotionally engaged throughout. The production and cinematography is stunning, and I found myself connected to the bride and loving her. Whilst some of the writing felt simple and the tone can feel off in moments, this is a sweet little short.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

LATA

Director: Alisha Mehta
Writers: Alisha Mehta, Mireya Martinez
Starring: Shobha Dangale

Synopsis: Honing a quiet strength, Lata, a 23 year old domestic worker, navigates her way through an upper class home in South Mumbai. Doors consistently open and close, giving Lata selective access to the various contending realities that occupy this space.

I wish I could have liked this, but unfortunately I felt the runtime drag with this one. Whilst I appreciate the approach to the film and the cinematography, the lack of story made it hard to really connect with the film and stay invested. Several sequences were too long and ruined the pacing, which would have helped make the film run smoother.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

In the Air Tonight

Director: Andrew Norman Wilson
Writer: Andrew Norman Wilson
Starring: David George

Synopsis: New details on the drowning that inspired In the Air Tonight have emerged from someone who was close to Phil at the time.

I want to apologise to Flex for saying that would be the weirdest short film at Sundance. I am so confused about what this is and how I should react to it. It didn’t work for me, but it’s certainly not going to be one that I forget.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Mountain Cat

Director: Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir
Writer: Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir
Starring: Munkh-Od Purev, Azzaya Munkhbat, Sarangerel Sukhbaatar

Synopsis: A troubled teenage girl is coerced into seeing a local shaman in search of spiritual healing. Trapped by ancient beliefs that serve only to pacify her mother, she finds peace in the physical realm by unleashing her repressed, youthful spirit on the unsuspecting shaman when she realises his true identity.

An interesting look into different cultures, the protagonist is empowering and looking at her family’s culture through pessimistic eyes, something that is refreshing to see. The story certainly goes in a way that I did not expect, but that I was pleasantly surprised by.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Affected

Director: Rikke Gregersen
Starring: Simon Petter, Dagny Backer Johnsen, Fredrik Landmark

Synopsis: Minutes before a plane’s departure, a situation develops. A passenger refuses to sit down to prevent the deportation of another man. The pilot then finds himself having to take a political stand, the last thing he wants to do.

A smart, sharp short film that for the most part lands. The humour works incredibly well throughout, whilst also making sure not to make a punchline out of the serious issue presented. I do think the storyline regarding the pilot doesn’t land as well, but otherwise this is a fun short film.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Raspberry

Director: Julian Doan
Starring: Raymond Lee, Alexis Rhee, Joseph Lee

Synopsis: Undertakers wait on a family’s final farewells, as one son struggles to say goodbye to his dead father.

I certainly did not expect the way that this short film went, but I certainly appreciate it. This film somehow is able to balance the tones perfectly and create an emotional piece in a short seven minutes. It leaves you with such an impact and is one of the strongest shorts of the festival.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Unliveable

Directors: Enock Carvalho, Matheus Farias
Writers: Enock Carvalho, Matheus Farias
Starring: Luciana Souza, Eduarda Lemos, Carlos Eduardo Ferraz

Synopsis: Just before the pandemic, the world experiences a phenomenon never seen before. Marilene looks for her daughter Roberta, a trans woman who went missing. While running out of time, she discovers a hope for the future.

I had no idea what was happening or where this was going to go, but I really loved the atmosphere of the film. The writing is incredibly smart, letting the story naturally build through these characters and making us establish a relationship with them. Despite the sci-fi aspect of this film, it does not feel too insane or unbelievable, because it is built up naturally and the focus isn’t on the sci-fi aspect itself. Wonderfully filmed.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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