Sundance unveils 2018 short docs lineup; Spurlock, Heineman to debut “The Trade”

The Sundance Film Festival has unveiled the works selected as part of its shorts, special events and episodic sections. The Trade, a project from Morgan Spurlock and City of Ghosts helmer Matthew ...
December 5, 2017

The Sundance Film Festival has unveiled the works selected as part of its shorts, special events and episodic sections.

The Trade, a project from Morgan Spurlock and City of Ghosts helmer Matthew Heineman, will see its world premiere in the special events section, which features one-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works.

The character-driven docuseries explores the opioid epidemic from the perspectives of growers, addicts and law enforcement on both sides of the border.

New to this year’s festival is an indie episodic section, designed as a showcase for emerging independent voices and their work.

“Episodic is one of the fastest-developing fields in on-screen storytelling today,” said Trevor Groth, director of programming for the Sundance Film Festival, in a statement. “By creating a dedicated space for independent episodic storytellers to shine, we’re aiming to foster more creativity in the field.”

Among these projects is America to Me from director Steve James. The limited series captures a year-long look at one of Chicago’s most progressive and diverse public schools, located in suburban Oak Park.

Elsewhere, Michelle Latimer‘s Nuuca and Charlie Tyrell’s My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes are among the projects selected as part of Sundance’s short films program. Of the 69 short films scheduled to screen across the festival, 17 are doc projects.

Latimer’s doc made its world premiere in the short cuts program at TIFF ’17. Exec produced by Laura Poitras, Charlotte Cook and Latimer, the project explores the link between the oil boom in North Dakota and the influx of drugs, crime and sex trafficking.

My​ ​Dead​ ​Dad’s​ ​Porno​ ​Tapes, which is co-written by Toronto-based Josef Beeby and Tyrell, follows Tyrell as he tries to better understand his emotionally distant late-father through the personal belongings he left behind.

The full list of non-fiction shorts playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival can be viewed here. A selected list of projects, with descriptions provided by the Sundance Institute, is below:


Baby Brother / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kamau Bilal) — The director’s baby brother moves back in with his parents.

The Driver Is Red / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Randall Christopher) — Argentina, 1960: a true crime story of how secret agent Zvi Aharoni hunts down one of the highest-ranking Nazi war criminals on the run.

End Game / U.S.A. (Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman) — Filmed and edited in intimate vérité style, this work follows visionary medical practitioners who are working on the cutting edge of life and death — and dedicated to changing our thinking about both.

I Like Girls / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Diane Obomsawin) — Charlotte, Mathilde, Marie, and Diane reveal the nitty-gritty about their first loves, sharing funny and intimate tales of one-sided infatuation, mutual attraction, erotic moments and fumbling attempts at sexual expression.

Intimity / Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Elodie Dermange) — As she is showering, dressing, putting on her make-up, a woman bares her soul.

Judith Loves Martha / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Anna Gaskell) — A wily 87-year-old New Yorker, Judith Godwin is one of very few women of the Abstract Expressionist Movement. A creative awakening in college led her to produce the brilliant, gestural paintings for which she is renowned.

Julius Caesar Was Buried in a Pet Cemetery / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sam Green) — A short documentary portrait of the greatest pet cemetery in the world.

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes / Canada (Director: Charlie Tyrell, Screenwriters: Josef Beeby, Charlie Tyrell) — Filmmaker Charlie Tyrell seeks to better understand his emotionally distant late-father through the personal belongings he left behind…including a stack of VHS dirty movies. Narrated by David Wain.

A Night at The Garden / U.S.A. (Director: Marshall Curry) — Months before the start of World War II, 22,000 Americans gathered in New York’s Madison Square Garden to rally in support of Nazism.

Nuuca / U.S.A., Canada (Director: Michelle Latimer) — The oil boom in North Dakota has brought tens of thousands of new people to the region and with that has come an influx of drugs, crime and sex trafficking.

RX EARLY DETECTION A Cancer Journey with Sandra Lee / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Cathy Chermol Schrijver) — The intense journey of a woman stunned when her routine annual mammogram delivers a cancer diagnosis. This film is unafraid to battle cancer directly, projecting a power to inspire, educate, destigmatize and effect change.

SYMPHONY OF A SAD SEA / Mexico (Director and screenwriter: Carlos Morales) — Hugo, a Mexican child and victim of the violence, flees his hometown with one single dream: crossing to the United States to meet his father and leave his past behind.

THE TRADER (SOVDAGARI) / Georgia (Director and screenwriter: Tamta Gabrichidze) — Gela sells secondhand clothes and household items in places where money is potatoes.

The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys) — An urgent reflection on indigenous sovereignty, the undead violence of museum archives and post-mortem justice through the case of the “Kennewick Man,” a prehistoric Paleoamerican man whose remains were found in Kennewick, Washington State in 1996.

Volte / Poland (Directors and screenwriters: Monika Kotecka, Karolina Poryzala) — Zuzia, 12, has been training for two years and has an extraordinary role topping the acrobatic pyramid. At the start of a new season, it’s clear that she’s lost some grace and lightness. A growth spurt may be the culprit.

Wild Wild West: A Beautiful Rant by Mark Bradford / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dime Davis) — Where do artists come from? An answer explored through paper, percussion, and one pissed off artist.

ZION / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Floyd Russ) — A portrait of Zion Clark, a young wrestler who was born without legs and grew up in foster care.

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