Walker’s “Blossom” among Sundance doc shorts

Lucy Walker's Oscar-shortlisted The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (pictured) will get its U.S. premiere at Sundance 2012, with the festival unveiling the 10 non-fiction titles selected for its short film program.
December 7, 2011

Lucy Walker’s Oscar-shortlisted The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (pictured) will get its U.S. premiere at Sundance 2012, with the festival unveiling the 10 non-fiction titles selected for its short film program.

This year’s shorts program is comprised of 64 short films (including narrative efforts) selected from 7,675 submissions, up 16% over submissions for the 2011 Festival.

Trevor Groth, director of programming for the Sundance Film Festival, said: “As technology allows greater access to short films as well as filmmaking tools, an increasing number of people are turning to short filmmaking as a form of expression and an opportunity to explore creative freedom.

“The fact that we received 1,200 more submissions in this category than last year speaks to that. Within them we saw a wave of truly original and outrageously distinctive films united by their uncompromised spirit.”

The full list of non-fiction shorts playing, with descriptions provided by the Sundance Institute, follows below:


Aquadettes (Directors: Drea Cooper, Zackary Canepari) — The Aquadettes are a group of elderly synchronized swimmers from Leisure World, a retirement community nestled in Orange County, California. One of them, Margo Bauer, is fighting multiple sclerosis and using medical marijuana to ease her pain and to keep on swimming.

The Debutante Hunters (Director: Maria White) — In the Lowcountry of South Carolina a group of true Southern belles reveal their more rugged side, providing a glimpse into what drives them to hunt in the wild.

Family Nightmare (Director: Dustin Guy Defa) — A dizzy trip through the mid-1990s with a dysfunctional American family. Reliving a distracted child’s birthday party, an emotionless wedding, a Halloween in a garage and a Christmas marked with alcohol, drugs and perversion, the film is a crumpled letter from a filmmaker to his family: a shattered kaleidoscope of the destructive patterns that have trapped and wounded its members.

The Meaning of Robots (Director: Matt Lenski) — The benevolent Mike Sullivan, age 65, has been shooting an epic stop-motion robot sex film in his apartment for the last 10 years. Obsessed with constructing the miniature robot porn stars, his apartment now overflows with thousands of them.

The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising (Directors: Greg I. Hamilton, Kurt Miller) — In 2004 Rick Finkelstein was paralyzed in a ski accident on Aspen Mountain. With a severed spine and severe internal trauma, he wasn’t expected to live. Six years, nine surgeries, and a lifetime of rehab later, cameras captured his dramatic return to Aspen and skiing.

Odysseus’ Gambit (Director: Àlex Lora Cercós) — A gambit is a chess opening in which a player sacrifices a pawn with the hope of achieving a resulting advantageous position. The protagonist is a Cambodian American guy looking for his place in the game.

Pluto Declaration (Director: Travis Wilkerson) — Restore the classical definition of planet! Bring back planet Pluto! The solar system is 12!

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (Director: Lucy Walker) — Survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins. A visual haiku about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan’s most beloved flower.


Into the Middle of Nowhere / United Kingdom (Director: Anna Frances Ewert) — The documentary is about the uniqueness of childhood and the exploration of the human mind. In an outdoor nursery based in the woods, children create their own individually constructed worlds and can test out the boundaries of reality.

Stick Climbing / Austria, Switzerland (Director: Daniel Zimmerman) — A contemplative walk leads to a bizarre climbing tour going from everyday village life to a seemingly impossible ascent.

Sundance 2012 takes place in Park City, Utah, from January 19-29.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.