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Your Guide to Animation at the Sundance Film Festival

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A still from ‘Old Fangs,’ an animated short film premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.

Landon Zakheim

Greetings, weary traveler, and welcome to exotic Park City, land of enchantment and the finest short film treasures this side of the mountain.

Ah, I know what you came for, what you traveled far and wide to see—that’s right, our exceptional collection of animated wares. Well, you came to the right place, because this year contains a wealth of dazzling visceral gems and mesmerizing intimate affairs, along with all sorts of wonders in-between. You just need to know where to find them.

You’ll want to start with the Animation Showcase, a program made up exclusively of nine animated short pieces from across the globe. Adrien Merigeau makes his Festival debut with the contemplative Irish family saga Old Fangs.

Canada brings us the hilariously exciting Runaway by Cordell Barker, the stark meditation of David Coquard-Dassault’s Rains, and the hauntingly lonely love song executed with melancholy by Bruce Alcock in Vive La Rose. French director Bastien Dubois presents his visual travelogue Madagascar: A Journey Diary, and Bruno Collet takes us on an exquisite adventure with The Little Dragon, in which a Bruce Lee doll suddenly finds himself imbued with his namesake’s spirit.

For those with a taste of the absurd, we’ve been sure to include exciting new American voices, namely Jeff Drew’s surreal ensemble dissection of human connection One Square Mile of Earth, and Meatwaffle, Leah Shore’s wonderfully bizarre reflection on memories. We proudly round out the program with Berlin Golden Bear winner Please Say Something, wherein a cat and mouse experience trouble in their relationship, set in the distant future.

But wait: there’s more. Peppered throughout the other shorts programs you’ll find an array of riches, like Alexei Tylevich’s delirious music video N.A.S.A a Volta in Shorts Program 3. In Shorts Program 1, Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy, and Ludovic Houoplain, who make up the collective H5, present their spectacular action-packed epic designed in a world constructed by corporate sponsorship in Logorama.

Turning to Shorts Program 2, Let’s Harvest the Organs of Death Row Inmates by Chris Weller and Max Joseph makes a plea for sustaining life, while over in Shorts Program 4, Festival favorite Don Hertzfeldt makes a triumphant return to his distinct brand of surreal comedy in the excruciatingly funny Wisdom Teeth.

If you think that’s all we have for you, you are mistaken. Yes, there’s even some animation playing in front of features! If you have a ticket to NEXT premiere Bass Ackwards, you will first be treated to Diego Maclean’s pondering adaptation of American poet Billy Collins’ poem The Art of Drowning. Meanwhile, Dock Ellis & the LSD No-No (which can be seen before Doc Spotlight feature Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks) uses animation to recreate a legendary psychedelic baseball event.

If you are in search of the avant-garde, we invite you to partake in our New Frontier Shorts, playing before features in that section. Festival alum Kelly Sears joins us with a meticulous collage showcasing covert telephone operations in an age of nuclear anxiety; artist Laleh Khorramian uses stop-motion to transform orange peels into creatures of desire; and then there is The ZO, an epic visual meditation written and directed by Glenda Wharton.

For the animation buff, we have something for everyone.


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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. 

In Memoriam: Diane Weyermann (1955–2021)

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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