TheWrap is pleased to announce the 12 finalists in the seventh annual ShortList Film Festival, launching today online.
The finalists, hand-picked from the world’s top film festivals over the last year, will stream on the site starting today through August 22, 2018 — allowing visitors to vote on their favorites.
The Audience Prize and The Industry Prize winners will each receive a $5,000 cash prize during a ceremony to take place at the AMC Century City in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 23.
The films in the main competition are a mix of foreign language, drama, comedy and animation created by filmmakers from around the globe.
In addition, eight student films from top colleges and universities included in TheWrap’s ranking of film schools have been named finalists in a sidebar competition.
The contenders come from filmmakers who studied at USC, UCLA, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the American Film Institute, Loyola Marymount University, the University of Texas, Northwestern University and Savannah College of Art and Design.
You can watch, vote and share your favorite festival short film using #Shortlist2018 for your chance to win two tickets to the ShortList Film Festival award ceremony. The ShortList Film Festival is supported by Topic and AMC Theatres.
Here are the official finalists in the 2018 ShortList Film Festival:
Directed by: Alexa Lim Haas
USA, 7 minutes
A Chinese manicurist in Miami attempts to describe feelings she doesn’t have the words for.
Directed by: Julio O. Ramos
Peru/USA, 14 minutes
After a disastrous event on his construction site, Armando acts quickly to save his crew, but instead stumbles upon an unspeakable truth.
Directed by: Karishma Dev Dube
India, 13 minutes
Set in New Delhi, a closeted lesbian risks family and social boundaries as she pursues her household maid, Devi.
“The Driver Is Red”
Directed by: Randall Christopher
USA, 14 minutes
Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary follows the story of secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he hunted down one of the highest ranking Nazi war criminals on the run.
Directed by: Charlie Lyne
UK, 13 minutes
Sometime in the 1980s, Caspar Salmon’s grandmother was invited to a gathering on the Welsh island of Anglesey, attended exclusively by people with fish surnames. Or so he says. Thirty years later, filmmaker Charlie Lyne attempts to sort myth from reality as he searches for the truth behind this fishy tale.
Directed by: Wes Hurley & Nathan M. MIller
USA, 14 minutes
An autobiographical documentary short about a gay boy growing up in the Soviet Union, his mail-order-bride mom and their adventurous escape to America.
Directed by: Andrea Brusa and Marco Scotuzzi
Italy, 14 minutes
An Afghan refugee arriving in Italy to seek asylum brings the immigration system to a grinding halt when he includes his beloved goat in the application. Based on a true story.
“My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes”
Directed by: Charlie Tyrell
Canada, 13 minutes
In My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes director Charlie Tyrell attempts to uncover a deeper understanding of his deceased father by examining his posthumous possessions.
Narrated by David Wain (director of “Wet Hot American Summer”), Tyrell presents a unique lens on family relationships and their challenges.
Directed by: Emily Ann Hoffman
USA, 12 minutes
A young couple’s romantic weekend getaway is interrupted by a birth control mishap in this stop-motion animated comedy.
Directed by: Marshall Tyler
USA, 16 minutes
A day in the life of a bathroom attendant in a Los Angeles nightclub.
Directed by: Benjamin Cleary and TJ O’Grady Peyton
Ireland, 10 minutes
Gaspar Rubicon wakes from a coma speaking a fully formed but unrecognizable language, baffling linguistic experts from around the globe. Cleary won an Oscar two years ago for his last short, “Stutterer.”
Directed by: Trevor Jimenez
USA, 15 minutes
“Weekends” is the story of a young boy shuffling between the homes of his recently divorced parents. Surreal, dream-like moments mix with the domestic realities of a broken up family in this hand-animated film set in 1980’s Toronto.
The finalists in the Student category:
“A Place to Stay” (American Film Institute)
Directed by: Charlie Polinger
USA, 17 minutes
Kansas City, 1959. When Andy’s boyfriend leaves him, he drives across the state to confront him and discovers his lover’s double life.
“The Goodnight Show” (University of Texas)
Directed by: Charlie Schwan
USA, 16 minutes
The year is 1978 and an unstoppable asteroid is soaring directly for earth. As a family eats their last meal, a news program playing in the background confirms their inevitable and impending doom. For most, there isn’t much to do except sit and wait for the end. In paltry hero Samuel’s case, however, this is his last chance to prove to himself — and everyone else — that he’s not a loser.
“Labor” (University of California, Los Angeles)
Directed by: Cecilia Albertini
USA/Italy, 12 minutes
Two mothers. One baby. A harrowing decision.
“Oglesby Park” (Northwestern University)
Directed by: Troy Lewis
USA, 9 minutes
After a confusing encounter at the park, a young boy struggles to reconcile the ache of empathy with the desire to push the pain away, leading to devastating results.
“One Small Step” (University of Southern California)
Directed by: Aqsa Altaf
USA, 13 minutes
Dasani is a motivated 9-year-old student who dreams of becoming an astronaut. After finding out that her class is going on a field trip to the Science Museum to see the Endeavor Space Shuttle, Dasani starts counting down days to that trip. After her mother doesn’t return from a rally one day, Dasani is forced to choose between going on that field trip or being with her siblings.
“The Peak” (Savannah College of Art and Design)
Directed by: Mark Alex Vogt
USA & Hong Kong, 14 minutes
In this love story, set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s Hungry Ghost Festival, a young man leads his girlfriend on an elaborate scavenger hunt as they prepare to say goodbye to the city where they first met.
“Supernova” (University of North Carolina School of the Arts)
Directed by: Gavin Lankford and Alexsandre C. Kosinski
USA, 9 minutes
When a little boy’s late-night viewing of his favorite space adventure is cut short by a scolding from his mom, he channels the heroism of his sci-fi fantasy hero and makes it his mission to get it back.
“Z-MAN” (Loyola Marymount University)
Directed by: David Fortune
USA, 12 minutes
Z -MAN follows the journey of a 7-year-old boy pretending to be a superhero in South Central LA. After witnessing a crime in his neighborhood, he goes on a mission to find the man responsible and ensure the safety of his community.
When it comes to the minuscule percentage of women directing films, the numbers are less depressing within the independent film scene.
But a new study shows that little progress was made in 2015, and that a disturbing disparity between men and women directors in the space has continued in the past year.
Women accounted for 28 percent of directors whose films screened at top U.S. film festivals last year, according to the annual study “Women in Independent Film” released on Thursday. While still far from reflecting 50-50 parity, the number is markedly better than the 9 percent of women directors who helmed major-studio films in 2015.
Led by Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the study focuses on women’s representation at 23 U.S. festivals, including AFI Fest, SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival.
“The findings indicate that while women fare better in independent films, particularly documentaries, than in studio features, they are not close to achieving parity in the independent realm,” Lauzen said in a statement.
Indeed, 35 percent of documentary directors working the festival circuit last year were women. Compare that with the mere 19 percent of women directors who worked on narrative features.
When crunching the numbers on directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers as a group, women made up 25 percent of those working on U.S. festival circuit films — a figure that has not changed significantly since 2008-09, when Lauzen’s team began its study.
“Women’s representation on independent films is stagnant,” Lauzen said. “In spite of the increasing dialogue about this issue, the numbers have yet to move. We are not seeing year-to-year growth.”
Going into Monday night’s Gotham Awards, “Carol” is the most celebrated, raved-about and nominated independent film of the year.
So why does it still feel like something of an underdog this awards season, particularly when it comes to the Oscars?
You can partly chalk it up to the film’s subtlety and understatement, which are sadly not qualities that register with voters very often. And you can add a sobering and surprising statistic about two of the indie icons who helped make the exquisite, ’50s-set romance: Todd Haynes has never been nominated for an Oscar for directing, and Christine Vachon has never been nominated in any category.
At a time when independent films routinely dominate the Oscars, when “Birdman” can go from the Gothams to the Spirit Awards to the Oscars and win all three, it’s unfortunate that two of the most respected figures in the indie world could have been shut out by the Academy — and troubling that they shouldn’t be slam-dunk contenders for a film as elegant and moving as “Carol.”
The film is up for three Gothams, including Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Cate Blanchett). It led all films in nominations for the other major independent-film award, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, with six nods that included feature, director and actress for both Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
It is also one of the best-reviewed films of the year, with a score of 94 on Metacritic, topping every narrative film except the animated “Anomalisa.” And in the recent Sight and Sound listing of the year’s 20 best movies, it came in at No. 2, behind only Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Assassin.”
The raves have been steady since the Weinstein Company film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival — but in a year with a surprising abundance of films built around female protagonists (“Brooklyn,” “Joy,” “Room”), the quietest and subtlest film of the batch is also a quiet voice during awards season, with fellow indies “Spotlight” and “Room” landing higher in most pundits’ predictions.
“It’s not going to be for every filmgoer — especially today, when people’s attentions are easily diverted,” Haynes admitted to TheWrap in a recent interview. “And when there is consensus around something, people want to take it down a peg. That’ll happen, if it hasn’t already.”
Still, “Carol” has done well under the Weinstein Company’s quiet rollout strategy, which is similar to the way the company launched Oscar winners “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” It opened on Nov. 20 in four theaters to a strong $63,378 per-screen average, and dropped less than 20 percent in its second weekend. It will not expand to additional theaters until Dec. 11.
The film is likely to figure in critics’ awards, which will begin to be announced this week with the New York Film Critics Circle on Wednesday and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, among others, on Sunday. (The National Board of Review, which is not a critics’ group, will make its announcement on Tuesday.)
But first come the New York-based Gotham Awards, where “Spotlight” is a formidable competitor and “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” led all films in nominations with four in the seven competitive categories.
Haynes has never received an award at the Gothams, and “I’m Not There” is the only one of his films to get a nomination.
To be fair, though the Gothams concentrated on breakthrough performances and films for most of its 24 years, so Haynes was too established to be in the running for many of those years. This year he will be the recipient of a Gothams tribute to his entire career.
He has also won the Sundance jury prize for “Poison,” a Cannes jury award for “Velvet Goldmine,” an Oscar screenplay nomination for “Far From Heaven,” three Emmy nominations for “Mildred Pierce” and Spirit Award directing nominations for every film he’s ever released — as well as a reputation as one of the true auteurs of the indie movement, which has drawn actresses like Blanchett to work with him.
“[‘Carol’] was made on a shoestring, with no artistic compromises made,” said the Oscar-winning actress, who previously worked with Haynes on “I’m Not There.” “Somehow Todd makes these extraordinary beasts of films, unusual and particular. I marvel at how he does that.”
Vachon, meanwhile, has produced all of Haynes’ films, as well as “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Still Alice,” “Kids,” “I Shot Andy Warhol,” “Happiness” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” — and she’s received honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, as well as a special Gotham Award in 1999.
Both she and Haynes should end up at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 28. But first they have to navigate the rocky roads of awards season, starting with the Gothams tonight and the critics’ awards later in the week.
Nena Rodrigue has been chosen as head of programming for Sundance Channel, Sarah Barnett, the network's new president and general manager, said Tuesday.
In her new capacity, Rodrigue will develop and oversee Sundance's original productions, a slate that currently includes the network's first wholly-owned original scripted series "Rectify," which premieres April 22, and the miniseries "Top of the Lake," which kicks off March 28.
Rodrigue — whose official title will be senior vice president of original production and development — will report to Barnett, and will be based in New York.
In her most recent position as executive vice president and executive producer at Wolf Films, Rodrigue was responsible for growing the "Law and Order" franchise, and oversaw development for "Conviction," "Trial by Jury," "Lost and Found" and "Law and Order: Los Angeles." Her career also includes a stint as the executive vice president of Imagine Television, supervising development and productions on series such as "Felicity" and Sports Night."
“Nena is a huge talent and I couldn't be more thrilled to welcome her to Sundance Channel,” Barnett said. “Her deep experience, especially in dramatic television, will serve us well as we continue our strategy of bringing audiences scripted series of the highest quality as well as fresh, unscripted worlds.”
Relativity Media announced on Tuesday that it has picked up the rights to "Silver or Lead," a screenplay by Piers Ashworth, which tracks the manhunt for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Enrique Urbizu is attached to direct the story of how General Hugo Martinez risked his life as the head of the elite task force responsible for bringing the godfather of the Medellín cartel to justice for his crimes. The film's title is derived from the antagonist's famous phrase, "Plata o Plomo," meaning take his silver or take his lead.
Relativity, which will produce in partnership with Atmosphere Entertainment MM, has already secured Martinez's life rights, as well as those of DEA agent Joe Toft, who was also involved in the pursuit, capture and death of Escobar in 1993.
Simon Strong's award-winning book “Whitewash: Pablo Escobar and the Cocaine Wars" was acquired by Relativity to provide the source material for Ashworth's script, which he developed from an original draft by Michael Kane.
Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and president Tucker Tooley will serve as producers on their project with Mark Canton, Donald Kushner and Leigh Ann Burton. Atmosphere’s David Hopwood will co-produce.
“Relativity is proud to attract such a dynamic team to help tell Pablo Escobar’s life story. We have been fans of Enrique’s award-winning work and Piers’ powerful script and are thrilled to have them on board," Tooley said in a statement. "This has been a long coveted project and we look forward to working with people who are as passionate about the story as Mark, Donald, and Leigh Ann.”
This is the second Escobar-related feature film of late to come to fruition. Benicio Del Toro is attached to play portray the infamous criminal in writer/director Andrea di Stefano's "Paradise Lost," which stars Josh Hutcherson as a young surfer who falls for Escobar's niece.