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Shorts Break: Pol Pot’s Birthday and Dimmer

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Pol Pot’s Birthday

Mike Plante, Short Film Programmer

This week we turn the spotlight onto the diverse and talented short work of Talmage Cooley. His two short film played back-to-back editions of the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and 2005. Though both are quality works, they two could not be more dissimilar. Cooley’s subversive comedy Pol Pot’s Birthday was a great crowd-pleaser and festival fan-favorite during the 2004 season. The concept of Pol Pot forcing his staff to participate in his own birthday is so well done that it functions as both straightforward parody and high political satire, earning praise from circles connected with both high art and broad comedy.

Cooley’s follow-up film, Dimmer, played the Festival the subsequent year. Commissioned by the band Interpol, who was looking for short films that could accompany their new album, Cooley ended up discovering a gang of blind teenage boys and documented their life in the bleak, rust-belt town of Buffalo, New York. Tailoring the style and tone of his project to match the rhythm and feel of the subjects, Dimmer is a one-of-a-kind elegy to an under-represented slice of society.

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

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A singular force within the documentary film world with a global reach, Diane Weyermann passed away at age 66 after battling cancer. Over the course of her 30-year career as a funder and an executive, her work elevated the documentary form and expanded its cultural impact.

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