The 2024 Sundance Film Festival the short film jury awards were announced during the Shorts Awards Party presented by Argo and WeShort at The Park in Park City.
The Festival, which kicked off on January 18 and runs through January 28 in person and across the country online, has long been known as the premiere showcase of short filmmaking talent. The Short Film Grand Jury Prize, awarded to one film in the program of 53 shorts selected from 12,098 submissions, went to The Masterpiece, directed and written by Alex Lora Cercos. This year’s Short Film jurors are Christina Oh, Danny Pudi, and Charlotte Regan – all of whom are Festival Alumni in honor of the Festival’s 40th Edition.
“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.”
Short Film awards winners in previous years include When You Left Me On That Boulevard by Kayla Abuda Galang, The Headhunter’s Daughter by Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan, Lizard by Akinola Davies Jr., So What If the Goats Die by Sofia Alaoui, Aziza by Saudade Kaadan, Matria by Álvaro Gago, And so we put goldfish in the pool. by Makoto Nagahisa, Thunder Road by Jim Cummings, World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt, Of Gods and Dogs by Abounaddara Collective
Driven by innovation and experimentation, the Short Film program seeks out filmmaking’s most original voices, exhibiting shorts across fiction, nonfiction, and animation, globally. From the start, the Institute has supported short filmmaking in all forms and styles, with alumni of the program including Andrea Arnold, Lake Bell, Damien Chazelle, Destin Daniel Cretton, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Debra Granik, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Sterlin Harjo, Todd Haynes, Nikyatu Jusu, Shaka King, Lynne Ramsay, Dee Rees, Charlotte Regan, A.V. Rockwell, Joey Soloway, Taika Waititi, and many others.
Of the seven short films selected for awards this year, three projects (43% percent) were directed by women, four (57%) were directed by people who identify as LGBTQ, and three (43%) were directed by people of colour.
2024 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Awards:
The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to: 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) — 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. Cast: Daniel Grao, Babou Cham, Melina Matthews, Adam Nourou, Guido Grao. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
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 was presented to: 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) — A grieving woman believes her deceased best friend has come back to visit her… as a port-a-potty. Cast: Kate Jean Hollowell, Ruby Caster, George Basil. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
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 was presented to: An Chu, for The Stag / Taiwan (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: An Chu, Producer: Tzu-Yuan Wang) — 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. Cast: Yung-He Chen, Wei-Jen Chen, Si-Kai Chen. International Premiere. Available online for Public.
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 was presented to: Jack Dunphy, for Bob’s Funeral / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, Animator, and Producer: Jack Dunphy) — Searching for the root of generational trauma, the director sneaks a camera into his estranged grandfather’s funeral. World Premiere. Available online for Public
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 was presented to: Phoebe Jane Hart, for Bug Diner / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Phoebe Jane Hart) — A dissatisfied marriage, a secret crush, and workplace fantasies come to a head in a diner run by a mole with a hot ass. Cast: Jacob Levy, Phoebe Hart. World Premiere. Available online for Public.
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 was presented to: Masha Ko, for The Looming / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Masha Ko, Producers: Caroline Gluck, Andrey Nikolaev, Kolten Horner) — 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. Cast: Joseph Lopez, Kolten Horner, Brianne Buishas, Alyssa Nicole. Available online for Public.
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 was presented to: Makoto Nagahisa for Pisko the Crab Child is in Love / Japan (Director and Screenwriter: Makoto Nagahisa, Producer: Yasuo Suzuki) — 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. Cast: Aiko Kano, Saya, Maki Fukuda, Kanta Sato. U.S. Premiere. Available online for Public.
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.