Sundance Film Festival Shorts

February 15, 2018 | By Michelle Weth

From Feb. 8-11 the Sundance Film Festival celebrated the work of independent storytellers in cinema. The Sundance Institute was founded by Robert Redford, the now 81-year-old movie and television icon. He wanted to provide a great way to discover both emerging and established independent filmmakers. Bringing the festival to Boston, the Sundance Short Film event at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) was a great way to discover new cinematic gems. If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, here is a list of the seven films screened at the event.


Still From Come Swim

Come Swim

“A lie is never a lie, just a code you can’t break,” said Josh Kaye, who plays Josh in the film. A seventeen minute film, “Come Swim,” is written and directed by Kristen Stewart (yes, the one from “Twilight.”) Described by the ICA as “a diptych of one man’s day, half impressionist and half realist portraits,” this film blurs the line between the abstract and reality, creating a surrealist atmosphere. Noise was a huge thematic component to this film, and scenes with the relative absence of noise were relatively jarring. There wasn’t much dialogue, but the voice-over had quite a lot of repetition, and the use of noise within the film can be seen as schizophrenia in Josh’s life. 


5 Films About Technology

A five-minute film written and directed by Peter Huang, these five interconnected 

stories take a satirical look at commonly accepted but bizarre uses of technology in social settings. These comedic films explored how many people, especially millennials, tend to use technology and social media by extension, in inappropriate instances. Some of the themes behind these films are isolation, miscommunication, and inattention to reality. In addition, there is a great short on the humorous consequences of the digital cloud. These films are relatable and take a self-deprecating look at life in the digital age.


Night Shift

Written and directed by Marshall Tyler, this fifteen-minute film follows a day in the life of 

a male bathroom attendant in a Los Angeles nightclub. He’s going through divorce proceedings with his wife, and is shown to have greater dreams than his current lot in life. This film beautifully demonstrates what happens when you’re stuck both in a physical and mental place, despite having other wants and dreams.The moments of humor and lightheartedness dispersed throughout the film creates an overall wonderful and long-lasting cinema.

Lucia, Before and After

This film follows a young woman, Lucia (played by Sarah Goldberg), who travels 200 miles to Texas in order to get an abortion. Her plans change as she has to wait 24 hours due to the state-mandated waiting period before she can actually get the abortion.  Written and directed by Anu Valia, this film takes a personal approach to abortion and looks at the real consequences legislation has on the people who need the medical service the most. Throughout Lucia’s 24-hour journey, we see her ingenuity and street smarts as she interacts with some colorful characters, and eventually ends up getting the abortion. While the film doesn’t add anything new to the discussion surrounding abortion, this film generates empathy for Lucia, and is a great insight into the life of a person who might need abortion services.


Ten Meter Tower

As a documentarial approach, this film follows real people who have to choose whether to jump or climb down from a 10-meter-high diving tower. What’s most entertaining about this entire study is watching people’s anticipation to the fall, and the fear that paralyzes some of them. As some people chose to jump, the directors sometimes chose to show the audience a slow motion capture of their descent, and the close up shot of the subject allowed the viewer to see their faces of instant regret. As an audience, we are separated from the subject, and our entertainment comes at the cost of someone else’s fear. All I know is that I wouldn’t jump off!  



The only animated film on this list, “CIPKA” (Polish for a slang word meaning “vagina”) is a film following an unnamed young girl who decides to have a solo pleasure session, but reality deviates from the plan. The film was similar to a coming-of-age film in the way that it approached the subject matter, and there is a cute anthropomorphized body part in the film. The hijinks the girl gets into are pretty hilarious, but the film is thought-provoking as well, as it questions how society sees a ménage á moi, and to question any feelings of discomfort that arise from societal double-standards.

And The Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye

“Take me instead!” said Emeteria, played by Shenda Román. Written and directed by Francisca Alegría, this Chilean film follows the life of an old woman, Emeteria, after the mass death of her son’s cows. She is visited by the ghost of her patrón, Teodor (played by Gregory Cohen) and she then operates under the assumption that he has come to take her soul. A touching look at both death and what it means to be a are some great moments of fantasy within the film and instead of being a solely dark or depressing film, the moments of light and love creates a beautiful atmosphere that explores the relationship between mother and child.