Sundance is considered to be one of the top short film festivals, and is perhaps even more varied than Cannes when it comes to awards.

Matria by Alvaro Gago (2017) (Spain) (21m)

Matria won many awards on the short film festival circuit, including the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Made in Galicia, Matria tells the story of the middle-aged and humorless Ramona as she struggles through a depressing daily routine of non-stop work, which includes working in a mussel-canning factory and buying her granddaughter's birthday present. Can anything make her smile? It is very much a slice-of-life piece, with minimal story, but it is very real with a great lead performance.

Fast Horse by Alexandra Lazarowich (2018) (USA) (12m)

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, Fast Horse is a short doc about Indian Relay, a bareback horse racing sport from the Native American community. Although the riders clearly care for their horses and the documentary explores the close relationship between the Native American people and their animals, it is a somewhat uncomfortable watch for a vegan, as the horses have no real choice as to whether or not they participate in this extreme sport. Having said that, there seems to be little more danger involved for the horses - and there are no fences - than with normal horse racing.

For Nonna Anna by Luis De Filippis (2017) (Canada) (15m)

For Nonna Anna won the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It tells the story of Chris, a transgender teenager who is caring for her elderly, Italian grandmother (nonna). Chris expects her nonna to disapprove of her new gender but will the older woman surprise her? There is little dialogue - and what little there is often in Italian - making it feel like a mood piece and somewhat reminiscent (like many festival films) of Lynne Ramsay's early shorts. It is also filmed in the 4:3 format made popular by Andrea Arnold.


And So We Put Goldfish In... by M Nagahisa ('17) (Japan) (27m)

And So We Put Goldfish In The Pool won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. It tells the story of four teenage girls who feel trapped in their home town and, in a somewhat madcap fashion, questions the meaning of life. It is a post-modern film employing a dizzying array of different styles, but this and the girls' constant quest for fun could be seen as a counterpoint to the theme - that everything we do is essentially pointless in the end.


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