12 Sundance Short Films Available to Watch on YouTube, But at What Cost to the Filmmakers?
While it is just a small sample of the collection of 60+ short films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival from January 17-27 in Park City, Utah, the festival’s programmers have made 12 of these shorts available on YouTube for everyone to watch. This is good news for anyone unable to attend the festival; they can get a glimpse of some works that would otherwise be unavailable for months, or possibly even years.
It’s good news for the filmmakers, too, as their work will be exposed to potentially millions of people who might otherwise never see their films. The problem is that this YouTube premiere may disqualify these shorts from awards consideration, specifically, the Oscars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is strict in their rules regarding the eligibility of short films. They disqualify any short that is shown online, on television or home video before appearing in a paid screening at a Los Angeles theater or securing a prize at one of 75 different film festivals – including Sundance. By agreeing to let Sundance post their films to YouTube, the filmmakers are garnering a larger audience…but putting themselves out of the Oscar running.
These Oscar rules have led to glaring omissions before. The Last Seduction, a 1994 film that garnered critical acclaim for its star Linda Fiorentino, was disqualified because it debuted on HBO. And the Ridley Scott-produced documentary Life in a Day was left out of Oscar consideration because its premiere at the Sundance Festival was streamed live on YouTube. (It got nearly 38 million views.)
The question of critical recognition vs. exposure is a tough one, but at the end of the day, filmmakers want their work to be seen and enjoyed. Perhaps the Academy needs to loosen up their rules in this day and age.
Meanwhile, you can watch these short films here at Sundance’s official Screening Room YouTube page.
Here are the 12 Sundance shorts available, with their YouTube descriptions:
The Apocalypse (Director: Andrew Zuchero) Four uninspired friends try to come up with a terrific idea for how to spend their Saturday afternoon.
Black Metal (Director: Kat Candler) After a career spent mining his music from the shadows, one fan creates a chain reaction for the lead singer of a black metal band.
Broken Night (Director: Guillermo Arriaga) A young woman and her four-year-old daughter drive across desolated hills. Everything looks fine and they seem to enjoy the ride, until an accident sends them into the nightmare of darkness.
Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? (Director: Jason Willis) Catnip is all the rage with today’s modern feline, but do we really understand it? This film frankly discusses the facts about this controversial substance.
The Event (Director: Julia Pott) Love and a severed foot at the end of the world.
Irish Folk Furniture (Director: Tony Donoghue) An animated documentary about repair and recycling in rural Ireland.
Marcel, King of Tervuren (Director: Tom Schroeder) Greek tragedy enacted by Belgian roosters.
Movies Made From Home #6 (Director: Robert Machoian) Debbie is good at playing hide and seek—so good she is often hard to find.
The Roper (Directors: Ewan McNicol & Anna Sandilands) This is the true story of Kendrick, a young, black calf roper grafting through the local, all-white rodeo circuits in the southern United States. He practices and competes relentlessly, with dreams of one day making it to the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas.
Seraph (Director: Dash Shaw) A boy’s childhood scars his life.
What Do We Have in Our Pockets? (Director: Goran Dukic) A most unusual love story unravels when the objects in a young man’s pockets come to life.
When the Zombies Come (Director: Jon Hurst) At a hardware store in the middle of no where fans of the walking dead have turned their love of zombies into an obsession which has warped the way they see the store and costumers.