13 Narrative Short Filmmakers to Watch at Slamdance Fest 2017

Building on New Machine Magazine’s list of narrative short filmmakers to look out for at Sundance, it seems fitting to highlight the same category (albeit a smaller list) of filmmakers screening at the Slamdance Film Festival in January. Slamdance is held from the 20th-26th of January in Park City, Utah, which takes place at the same time and location as the higher profile Sundance Film Festival. This group includes a good selection of European filmmakers as well as edgier, more experimental shorts in line with the Slamdance reputation. The list starts off with the celebrated young French-Canadian filmmaker François Jaros, who was nominated for a Discovery Award for Oh What a Wonderful Feeling at Cannes Film Festival this year. Jaros made his mark with the celebrated 2014 short Toutes des connes, which won over 60 awards and nominations. Founded independently in 1995 and billed as the anti-establishment version on Sundance, the Slamdance Film Festival is known for launching many a filmmaker’s career, most notably Christopher Nolan.

Slamdance Narrative Filmmakers

(left to right) François Jaros, Haley Elizabeth Anderson, Caitlyn Greene, Mike Olenick, Steve Collins

1. FRANÇOIS JAROS

After being nominated for a Discovery Award at Cannes Film Festival this year writer/director François Jaros brings his latest short Oh What a Wonderful Feeling to Slamdance. The 14-minute film with the synopsis ‘stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires. Nor any truck,’ has had a stellar run this year, earning nominations at Cannes, Chicago, Toronto and New Orleans Film Festivals and winning the Grand Prix Asturias and the Youth Jury Award at the Gijon International Film Festival. Jaros earned his strips on the festival circuit in 2014 with Toutes des connes (Life’s a Bitch), which won awards at the HollyShorts, Fantasia and Charleston Film Festivals and was nominated for a Sundance Grad Jury Prize in 2014. It also scored a Jutra award (Quebec’s Academy Awards).

Follow Jaros on Twitter @francoisjaros.

2. CAITLYN GREENE

Editor and now director Caitlyn Greene’s debut narrative short is August, set in Louisiana’s swampland about a woman who wakes from a fever dream where it has been August for 16 years. Caitlyn has a solid reputation as an editor, particularly after winning a non-fiction editing Emmy for The Jinx: the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. August has also been selected to screen at the 2017 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, a prestigious French event on the shorts calendar, held in February each year.

Follow Greene on Twitter @caitlyngreene

3. MIKE OLENICK

Mike Olenick’s The Cure earns a screening slot at Slamdance this year. The Cure is a ‘sci-fi soap opera that unravels the secret dreams of people who are desperately searching for ways to cure their fears of loneliness’. Olenick’s Red Luck won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Experimental Short at Slamdance last year. His previous accolade was an honorable mention for The Son of Samsonite at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2004.

Follow Olenick on Twitter @mikeolenick

4. STEVE COLLINS

Multi-nominated and award-winning filmmaker Steve Collins has the world premiere of his new short film Dr Meertz this year. Collins is a well-known short filmmaker, especially in his home state of Texas, where his first achievement included winning an award at the CinemaTexas International Short Film Festival in 2003 for Gretchen and the Night Danger. Collins also picked up the Audience Award for another short, Lonelyland, at the same festival. SXSW Film Festival has reinforced his momentum in recent years with Collins scoring Grand Jury Prize nominations in 2012 (J.P.B.F) and 2016 (Thunder P). Dr Meertz is about a renegade psychotherapist who has a brief window of time to cure a patient with ungodly dreams.

5. HALEY ELIZABETH ANDERSON

Haley Elizabeth Anderson’s Get Out Fast has been selected to screen this year. Anderson is an NYU Tisch graduate now based in Austin, Texas. Get Out Fast is about young Alex who searches for his missing best friend Coyote Boy. The film captures the mixture of freedom and loneliness that comes with venturing into the unknown.

6. BRADLEY BIXLER

Neon Lights from writer/director Bradley Bixler centers on a young stripper who encounters a violent customer on her way home to her father’s birthday after a day-to-day transaction goes wrong. Bixler is also a graduate from NYU’s Tisch film program and last year he received the Excellence Award at the Rincon Film Festival in Puerto Rico for his short Quedate.

Follow Bixler on Twitter @bradleybixler89

7. PASCAL PLANTE

Pascal Plante is a short filmmaker with numerous credits, including Blue Eyed Blonde (2015) and Baby Blues (2012). His latest work is Nonna, which makes its U.S premiere at Slamdance, a 10-minute short about ‘a surprising visit at grannys’.

 

lamdance Narrative Short Filmmakers

(from left to right) Pascal Plante, Sébastien Simon, Alejandro Peña, György Mór Kárpáti, Bradley Bixler

8. FOREST IAN ETSLER 9. SÉBASTIEN SIMON

Co-directors and screenwriters Forest Ian Etsler and Sébastien Simon are screening One-Minded, which tells the story of one fan’s transformation from dog to God. The short was nominated at the Jigja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival in 2016.

10. ALEJANDRO PEÑA

Alejandro Peña returns to Slamdance with his latest work Pedazos. Peña was nominated in 2014 for his experimental short R/B/G at Slamdance. Pedazos is the story of two lovers who are thrown into a mysterious cave inhabited by flying creatures.

11. TODD SELBY

Todd Selby is a director and producer, mostly known for his documentary shorts such as Tom Sachs (2010) and Mitch Alfus Leather King. Selby makes the move to narrative shorts with Redmond Hand, Private Dick. The 13-minute short stars Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson from The Wire who plays LA’s most notorious detective as she gets caught up in the search to find a beautiful woman’s cactus.

12.KABIR MEHTA

Kabir Mehta’s Sadhu in Bombay makes its North American debut. The short was nominated at the Rio de Janeiro Curta Cinema Festival and the Winterthur Short Film Festival in 2016. However it’s most notable achievement to date is winning the Best Film Award at the European Media Arts Festival. Sadhu In Bombay is a documentary-style portrait of a man, with ascetic origins, who has been radically transformed by city life. The film explores the grey zones between truth, fiction and the construction of reality; while vividly addressing contemporary life in India.

13. GYÖRGY MÓR KÁRPÁTI

György Mór Kárpáti’s intense short film Student Union has its North American premiere at Slamdance. György Mór Kárpáti has had four major nominations since 2011, notably nominations at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2011 (Erdö) and at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2014 for (Provincia). Student Union is about the return journey on a train from a freshman summer camp, where 18-year-old Dóra has just been sexually abused.

Visit György Mór Kárpáti on Facebook @karpatigy