2005 Sundance Shorts Program

“ShortsProgram 6”

“Billy’s Dad Is a Fudge-Packer” Directed by Jamie DonahueThree out of five starsSophomoric double-entendres abound in this funny but disposable throwback to 1950s educational flicks. Imagine every gay euphemism in the book and that pretty much describes the content of this short. At 10 minutes, the short is as long as it needs to be.

“Choked” Directed by Brad Barnes

Four out of five stars In this nearly wordless short, a CPR teacher is harassed by a classroom full of vicious boys. Strong performances highlight this tale of holding on to your beliefs in the face of meaningless cruelty.

“Un Dia en La Vida” Directed by Marco Orsini

Three out of five stars Rosalia is saddled with countless responsibilities-a failing hotel, a paralyzed husband, and now a grandchild her estranged daughter leaves in her care. Well acted, with an ending that is sure to polarize.

“Kare Kare Zvako-Mother’s Day” Directed by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Two out of five starsAn interesting fable set in drought-stricken Zimbabwe is marred by repugnant plot developments. No amount of dancing termites can save this one. For strong-stomached persons only.

“One Weekend a Month” Directed by Eric EscobarFive out of five starsA single mom is called to active duty. Not so much an anti-war short, but a powerful look at how willy-nilly decisions can hurt the ones we love. Superior writing and direction, with a lead performance that cuts deep.

“Raw” Directed by Tonia Lynn Barber

Three out of five stars Run-of-the-mill, post-modern time-shifter. A woman struggles with a self-abusive lifestyle. Stylishly shot, stylishly acted, and completely derivative.

“The Sailor’s Girl” Directed by Brett Simon

Four out of five stars Women hold many secrets, but Julia has a leg up on the competition-for a small fee she can show a man his conception and his death. Totally original and laced with grim humor.

“Shorts Program 5”

“Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?” Directed by Miguel ArtetaThree out of five starsJohn C. Reilly stars in this four-minute short about a guy taking a very weird survey. Screenwriter/actor Mike White cameos in this blink-and-it’s-over chuckle fest.

“Pura Lengua (All Tongue)” Directed by Aurora Guerrero

Three out of five starsA heartbroken young woman goes through hell. Yet another story with a shattered time frame (damn you “Memento” for starting the trend!). Good performances, but nothing new under the sun.

“Swim Test” Directed by Alex Chung

Three out of five stars The ending is pre-determined, so it’s all about the waiting in this sad look at an abused high schooler who is overweight.

“Tama Tu” Directed by Taika Waititi

Four out of five stars A funny and endearing look at a battalion of Maori soldiers in World War II. They quietly entertain each other while pinned down in a crumbling building. It’s the cutest war movie ever!

“Victoria Para Chino” Directed by Cary Fukunaga

Four out of five stars A nightmarish tale of Mexican immigrants stuffed in a truck and left to die just over the American border. Eye-opening short with a keen visual eye.

“West Bank Story” Directed by Ari Sandel

Four out of five stars It’s “West Side Story” with Jews and Muslims and all the comic possibilities that entails. Surprisingly polished for a Sundance short, full of good music and good production values.

“The Youth in Us” Directed by Joshua Leonard

Four out of five stars Lukas Haas (the saucer-eyed boy from “Witness”) plays a young man with deep compassion for the dying. It’s shamelessly sentimental, but it’s also an intriguing window into Kevorkian-style thinking.Aaron Allen