From an underwater rescue mission to a peek at the distant future, the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour features an eclectic bunch of films from all over the world that explore a vast terrain of ideas. The tour is stopping at IU Cinema this week with six award-winning short films of different styles — animation, comedy, documentary, etc. With a sex comedy, a mad scientist story, a children’s adventure and more, this event has a little something for everyone. Here are reviews of the films, which are playing tonight at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3.
The World of Tomorrow
★★★ A little girl gets a tour of the distant future from her clone in this strange animated film. The World of Tomorrow smacks of Tim Burton’s work, blending childlike wonder with dark ideas. The stick-figure look of the characters effectively intensifies the more mature nature of the subject matter. But this film’s dully ominous tone grows a little off-putting. Maybe not the best start for this short film program.
★★★★ A quietly hilarious slice of life, SMILF revolves around a young single mother clumsily trying to reclaim her sexual freedom. Writer-director-star Frankie Shaw is currently developing a sitcom from this material, which certainly has plenty of comedy she can mine as well as insights into motherhood. This is a breezy yet brave, uncompromising portrait of a woman juggling desires and responsibilities.
★★★1/2 When a middle-aged Japanese woman starts taking English lessons, she finds desires she didn’t think she was capable of having. That “discovery” isn’t terribly clear throughout this film, but while the film meanders, Kaori Momoi enchants us as the title character. Her world is surreal at first, but Momoi ultimately makes it feel lived-in and achingly real.
The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul
★★★ A peek at the audition process for a film about Olympic champion figure skater Oksana Baiul. We watch as one actress after another tries to recreate the athlete’s tears, which briefly united their war-torn home of Ukraine. The film scratches only the surface of the conflict, but it’s a poignant look at a harrowing issue through the eyes of the innocent.
Storm hits jacket
★★★★1/2 This beautifully crude work of animation seems ripped from the pages of a teenager’s homemade comic book. Caressing the audience with its handmade, retro picture-book style, it follows two young scientists as they face trouble with their time machine in a stormy island town. The setting is chilly, the style is warm. Storm hits jacket is the best film in the program.
★★★★ A mysterious tone poem that plumbs the icy depths of a froken lake. The plot is not entirely clear for a while. Object ultimately turns out to be a documentary look at an underwater search and rescue mission. Up until the end, it feels like a dreamy exploration of an alien world. Director Paulina Skibińska creates an unsettling atmosphere, lingering in the water as its silence is broken by the clinking sounds of a diver’s oxygen tank. This film won a much-deserved Special Jury Prize — for “poetic vision.”