Arts & Entertainment

Sundance announces award-winning short films

Of the seven short films awarded this year, three were directed by women, four were directed by people who identify as LGBTQ, and three were directed by people of color

PARK CITY, Utah — The 2024 Sundance Film Festival short film jury awards were announced last night during the Shorts Awards Party in Park City.

Out of 12,098 submissions and 53 shorts selected, The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to “The Masterpiece,” directed and written by Alex Lora Cercos. The 2024 Short Film jurors are Christina Oh, Danny Pudi and Charlotte Regan all Sundance Film Festival alumni.

“This has been another amazing year for shorts – most of the filmmakers in the program are coming to Sundance for the first time ever, and we are excited to get their films to audiences and the film industry.” said Mike Plante, senior programmer, Short Films. “The award winners are a great reflection of the vibrant ideas and styles that filmmakers are inventing in these times within the short form.”

According to a press release from the Sundance Institute, the following are the 2024 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Award winners:

The Short Film Grand Jury Prize: Alex Lora Cercos, for “The Masterpiece” / Spain. Director and producer: Alex Lora Cercos, screenwriter and producer: Lluis Quilez, screenwriter: Alfonso Amador, producers: Sandra Travé, Josemari Martínez, Néstor López, cast: Daniel Grao, Babou Cham, Melina Matthews, Adam Nourou, Guido Grao.

Description: “Leo and Diana, a wealthy couple, meet Salif and Yousef, two scrap dealers, at a recycle center. Offering them more junk, Diana invites them to their mansion, but the immigrants actually might be the ones with something she wants.”

Jury citation: “Being able to craft and express nuance in a 90+ minute feature is quite a feat, but to be able to do that in 20 minutes or less is a wildly impressive task. This short kept us on the edge of our seats, but also left us thinking about it and its commentary long after we left the theatre. From its writing, to its direction and performances, this film felt as if it was crafted by a team that’s been making stories together for a lifetime. The winner of the Short Film Grand Jury Prize is The Masterpiece, directed by Alex Lora Cercos.”

The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction: Kate Jean Hollowell, for “Say Hi After You Die” / U.S.A. Director: Kate Jean Hollowell, screenwriters: Kate Jean Hollowell, Ruby Caster, producer: Miranda Kahn, cast: Kate Jean Hollowell, Ruby Caster, George Basil.

Description: “A grieving woman believes her deceased best friend has come back to visit her… as a port-a-potty.”

Jury citation: “This film took us on an unexpected journey of grief, skillfully blending heartfelt moments with humor and a dash of the absurd. It made us appreciate true friendship and see porta potty’s in a new way. The winner of the Short Film Jury Award for US Fiction is Say Hi After You Die, directed by Kate Jean Hollowell.”

The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction: An Chu, for “The Stag” / Taiwan. Director, screenwriter and producer: An Chu, producer: Tzu-Yuan Wang, cast: Yung-He Chen, Wei-Jen Chen, Si-Kai Chen

Description: “At a deer farm in Changhua County, a middle-aged man is asked to cut off a stag’s antlers in front of his two kids.”

Jury citation: “This quietly powerful film held on to our attention from the opening shot and it gave us a peek into a world we haven’t seen. The film is striking with beautifully composed scenes and at its center is a deeply moving story about a father trying to do the right thing for his kids. The winner of the Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction is The Stag, directed by An Chu.”

The Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction: Jack Dunphy, for “Bob’s Funeral” / U.S.A Director, screenwriter, animator and producer: Jack Dunphy.

Description: “Searching for the root of generational trauma, the director sneaks a camera into his estranged grandfather’s funeral.”

Jury citation: “This film balances different tones and styles with the confidence of someone who has incredible control of storytelling. The vulnerability offered up by the family makes us, the audience, feel like they’re a part of the emotional journey in such a short space of time. The winner of the Short Film Jury Award for Nonfiction is Bob’s Funeral, directed by Jack Dunphy.”

The Short Film Jury Award: Animation: Phoebe Jane Hart, for “Bug Diner” / U.S.A. Director and screenwriter: Phoebe Jane Hart, cast: Jacob Levy, Phoebe Hart.

Description: “A dissatisfied marriage, a secret crush, and workplace fantasies come to a head in a diner run by a mole with a hot ass.”

Jury citation: “We didn’t stop laughing at this from start to finish. It has that magical effect of making you walk around all day with a smile on your face. The dialogue was incredibly written and the animation style was amazing…there’s also never been a better bug’s voice done on film. The winner of the Short Film Jury Award for Animation is Bug Diner, directed by Phoebe Jane Hart.”

A Short Film Special Jury Prize for Directing: Masha Ko, for “The Looming” / U.S.A. Director, screenwriter and producer: Masha Ko, producers: Caroline Gluck, Andrey Nikolaev, Kolten Horner, cast: Joseph Lopez, Kolten Horner, Brianne Buishas, Alyssa Nicole.

Description: “When a virtual home assistant speaker, Luna, picks up the strange noise Chester has heard in his house, he realizes that it may not be a symptom of dementia.”

Jury citation: “Terrifyingly beautiful seems like an oxymoronic phrase, but this terrifying yet beautiful short left us deeply moved and served as a haunting reminder to not send your parents’ calls to voicemail. The winner of a Special Jury Prize for Directing goes to Masha Ko for The Looming.”

A Short Film Special Jury Prize for Directing: Makoto Nagahisa for “Pisko the Crab Child” is in Love / Japan. Director and screenwriter: Makoto Nagahisa, producer: Yasuo Suzuki, cast: Aiko Kano, Saya, Maki Fukuda, Kanta Sato.

Description: “Pisko’s father is a crab while her mother is human. Pisko falls in love with her teacher but is heartbroken when he leaves her because she is half-crab. Pisko finally finds love and companionship with her friend Kubokayo.”

Jury citation: “There is nothing more special than the utter joy that can be found in friendships built on pure love and acceptance. It is so rare to see such such delight captured in a frame, and we never thought we’d root so hard for a half-crab. The winner of a Special Jury Prize for Directing goes to Makoto Nagahisa for Pisko the Crab Child is in Love.”

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