Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

2014 Sundance Film Festival Shorts: Good Recon For Aspiring Filmmakers 

Tuesday, Dec 30 2014
Comments (1)

Good recon for aspiring short-film maestros, the current Sundance collection brings a handful of live-action narrative, documentary, and animated offerings to its Roxie tour stop. "Who hurt you, Rose McGowan?" would not be an unreasonable response to McGowan's directing debut, Dawn, a meticulously production-designed, quasi-Lynchian melodrama of midcentury Americana which seems all but uninterpretable except as feminist cri de coeur. Equally slick but less affecting, the darkly comedic drama I'm a Mitzvah proves a smarmy showpiece for Parks and Recreation's Ben Schwartz as a young American tourist hauling the corpse of his friend around rural Mexico. Slowly building to its dick-pic-intensive catharsis, this seems like the perfectly self-satisfied encapsulation of modern Sundance product. Cleverness prevails in the nonfiction realm as well, particularly in Brett Weiner's Verbatim, which one-ups the punchline-style storytelling so common to short films by dramatizing a deposition transcript. Meanwhile Yuval Hameiri's personal documentary I Think This Is the Closest to How the Footage Looked is a grief ritual, an inventive study of absence, and maybe the most sincere movie here. On the animation side, things get truly adventurous. Stephen Irwin's The Obvious Child — no relation, unfortunately, to the like-named live-action feature comedy with Jenny Slate — takes a sort of tattoo-by-lava lamp trip into weirdo morbidity. Kelly Sears' handsome stock-footage scrapbook, Voice on the Line, spins material gathered from San Francisco's own Prelinger Archives into an alt-historical tale of sinister communications surveillance and wonderfully libidinous redemption. Bernard Britto's Yearbook makes our poignant acquaintance with a meek, sweater-vested functionary who has 17 years to catalog all of human history before an alien missile blows up the world. Similarly, It's Such a Beautiful Day concludes Don Hertzfeldt's magnificent trilogy, flowing like a mythic river to the cosmic zenith of stick-figure pathos.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

Related Locations


Showing 1-1 of 1


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"