Here’s Your Guide to the Short Films by Women Directors at the 2023 Festival

Children in summer clothing sit in the lower branches of a tree and in the lush field surrounding it. Tree-covered hills are in the background.

The children who created this refuge call it Hawaiki, a name that carries spiritual significance to the Maori people.

As we head into the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, women-helmed stories in the Shorts section range over wide subject matter, from a children’s refuge called Hawaiki, to the German tradition of kidnapping the bride, to an Ashéninka boy’s rite of passage, and the Jewish movement to challenge the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

Any of these, and all those keeping them company in that category, could introduce a gifted, insightful, and hardworking storyteller who becomes a household name.

The history at the Sundance Institute suggests that many of the next generation of cinematic storytellers emerge in the Shorts section of the Festival. Take, for instance, Wes Anderson, who broke into the industry with his short Bottle Rockets at the 1993 Festival, and then turned it into a full feature and headed off to fame with such films as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Isle of Dogs

Our following compilation of short films by women at the 2023 Festival suggest a dazzling future for film. These films play for both in-person and online viewing. 

Make sure to purchase your Festival passes and packages now to gain access to ticket selection ahead of the single film ticket sale in January. The Explorer Pass, for example, unlocks six immersive days of online access to Indie Episodic screenings and select Short Film programs between January 24 and 29. So choose your favorites and witness the next generation of storytellers!


Director: Valeria Hofmann

Midnight Short Film Program 

While a gamer uploads a testimonial video to denounce the harassment she suffers in a video game, a stranger enters her home and hacks her computer, blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds.


Co-director: Anya Chirkova

Short Film Program 2

A middle-aged Iranian man makes a desperate bid to keep his apartment as his relationship with his son unravels.

By Water

Director: Iyabo Kwayana

Animation Short Film Program

An unlikely hero’s journey into his own memories becomes a vehicle for reconciliation and healing for himself and his sibling.

Call Me Mommy

Director: Tara O’Callaghan

Documentary Short Film Program

Uncovering the multifaceted life of Sinead, a middle-aged single mother and online sex worker.

Flying Sailor

Director: Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis

Short Film Program 4

Two ships collide in a harbor, an explosion shatters a city, and a sailor is blasted skyward, where he soars high above the mayhem and toward the great unknown.


Director: Zhen Li

Animation Short Film Program

A crush gone moldy…


Director: Nova Paul

Short Film Program 3

At the edge of the playground close to the forest, the children of Okiwi School made a refuge they call Hawaiki. Hawaiki has spiritual and metaphysical connections for Māori as the children create a space for their self-determination.

Help Me Understand

Director: Aemilia Scott

Short Film Program 1

Six women come to a consensus.

In the Big Yard Inside the Teeny-Weeny Pocket

Director: Yoko Yuki 

Short Film Program 5

When it shrinks, it expands. It floats and it sinks. It separates but connects. When I think I’m watching them, they’re actually watching me.

In the Flesh

Director: Daphne Gardner

Midnight Short Film Program

Tracey is just trying to jerk off with her bathtub faucet like normal when some old memories dredge themselves up, the pipes explode with dirty water, and she starts leaking black goo.

Inglorious Liaisons

Director: Chloé Alliez and Violette Delvoye

Short Film Program 1

On the night of a big party for Lucie, Maya, and their friends, Jimmy has also come. Everyone knows he is here for Maya, but does she have the same feelings for Jimmy?

It’s Raining Frogs Outside

Director: Maria Estela Paiso

This short film plays before the New Frontier feature Last Things, which screens in person and online. 

A girl’s childhood home attempts to destroy her using her own personal history, but she resists.

Kidnapping of the Bride

Director: Sophia Mocorrea

Short Film Program 5

Luisa from Argentina and Fred from Germany are confronted with their social roles at their wedding. The German tradition of kidnapping the bride shakes the couple’s equality. There is no room for love in this role-play of marriage.

Life Without Dreams

Director: Jessica Bardsley

Short Film Program 2

Set in the outer space of consciousness, where the surfaces of far-out planetary bodies form the terrain for an exploration of 24/7 capitalism, insomnia, and the disappearance of darkness.

Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers

Director: Meredith Moore

Documentary Short Film Program

An artist and visual effects instructor connects with her aging grandmother, Margie, through collecting, art-making, and obsessing as a way to enhance reality.

Mirror Party

Director: Bridey Elliott

Short Film Program 6

Two friends role-play a breakup conversation.

Nocturnal Burger

Director: Reema Maya

Short Film Program 3

Somewhere between fantasy, trauma, paranoia, precaution, and the promise of a burger, a night gets catapulted into an investigation of child abuse at a dysfunctional police station in Mumbai.


Director: Xenia Matthews

Short Film Program 6

The long-dead Ourika, a Senegalese girl enslaved by a French aristocrat, is awoken in the eerie space between life and death, between body and soul, where she finds her way back to life and into liberation.


Director: Sharon Liese and Catherine Hoffman

Short Film Program 1

Three generations of a Kansas City family are finally unified when they do something that countless other Black Americans could not — choose their own last name.


Co-director: Jessica Meier

Midnight Short Film Program

Bob is a plumber hired to fix a broken pipe. He lands, to his surprise, in a gay fetish club.

Rest Stop

Director: Crystal Kayiza

Short Film Program 2

On a bus ride from New York to Oklahoma, Meyi, a young Ugandan-American girl, realizes her place in the world through her mother’s ambitious effort to reunite their family.

The Sea on the Day When the Magic Returns

Director: Jiwon Han

Animation Short Film Program

Sejin once had the power to have anything she wanted just by thinking about it. Now she has lost her magic. Hours before her interview to be a tourist interpreter, Sejin heads to the weary sea to save her father.

Shirampari: Legacies of the River

Director: Lucia Flórez

Documentary Short Film Program

In one of the most remote places in the Peruvian Amazon, an Ashéninka boy must overcome his fears and catch a giant catfish using only a hook to begin his adult journey.

Sweatshop Girl

Director: Selma Cervantes

Short Film Program 1

Inés works as a seamstress in a sweatshop where pregnancy tests are periodically administered. When she becomes pregnant, she is sure that her condition will get her fired. She does everything she can to keep it a secret.

Take Me Home

Director: Liz Sargent

Short Film Program 6

After their mother’s death, a cognitively disabled woman and her estranged sister must learn to communicate in order to move forward.

Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie

Director: Nicole Bazuin

Short Film Program 4

A surrealist exploration of dissociative identity disorder (DID) based on the lived experience of a Black, nonbinary, disabled artist and former sex worker.

Unborn Biru

Director: Inga Elin Marakatt

Midnight Short Film Program

A pregnant widow steals silver from a dead body in order to survive and feed her daughter. But the silver is cursed and has consequences for all of them, including the unborn.

Under G-d

Director: Paula Eiselt

Documentary Short Film Program

The Dobbs U.S. Supreme Court decision sparked a national Jewish response. Inspired by the lived experiences of Jewish women, lawsuits are currently being launched by rabbis, Jewish organizations, and interfaith leaders to challenge the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Weapons and Their Names

Director: Melina Valdez 

Short Film Program 4

Unable to process her grief after the death of her stepfather, a teenage girl escapes reality by shooting guns in the woods.

When You Left Me On That Boulevard

Director: Kayla Abuda Galang

Short Film Program 3

Teenager Ly and her cousins get high before a boisterous family Thanksgiving at their auntie’s house in southeast San Diego in 2006.

White Ant

Director: Shalini Adnani 

Short Film Program 3

A man is summoned from Mumbai to his village to deal with a termite infestation threatening to destroy his childhood home.

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