Short-film compilations are always a hit-or-miss proposition, and the 2018 edition of the touring show of short films from the Sundance Film Festival shows that the hits can sometimes be harder to find.
There are still ome gems among the seven films — including three winners of jury prizes in Park City last January.
Let’s take them in the order they appear on the program:
• “Maude” is a good laugh at California parenting, about a domestic comedy about a babysitter (Anna Margaret Hollyman, who wrote and directed) who discovers her client is a now-rich former classmate.
• “Baby Brother” is director Kamau Bilal’s verité documentary about his kid brother, Ismaeel, who as an adult has moved back in with their parents. It’s not as revealing as it would like to be, but an interesting character study.
• “The Burden” is an oddity, a surreal animated musical from Swedish filmmaker Niki Lindroth von Bahr that depicts monkey telemarketers, mouse fast-food workers, sardine hotel guests and other denizens of a lonely industrial-park area.
• “Hair Wolf” is a satirical gem by writer-director Mariama Diallo that uses horror-movie tropes to lampoon trendy white women trying to suck the life out of black hair culture. Bonus points for the zombie-like demand for “braaaiiids.”
• “Jeom” is a heartfelt animated tale from Korean director Kangmin Kim, about the shared legacy of a father and son: A birthmark on their butts.
• “Fauve” is a disturbing drama from Quebec, which starts with two boys playing around the industrial wreckage of a strip mine, playing a game that soon turns life-threatening. It’s bleak, but fascinating.
• Lastly, “Matria,” which was this year’s Grand Jury Prize winner, a slice of life from Spain, in which writer-director Álvaro Gago shows a factory worker (played by first-time actor Francisca Iglesias Bouzón) trying to carve out a moment of bliss in a soul-crushing schedule of work and domestic chores.
As with any shorts compilation, the advantage is that the good ones will leave you wanting more, and the not-so-good ones will be over sooner. “Hair Wolf” and “Matria” are worth the ticket price by themselves, but if anyone would like to try to explain “The Burden,” the comments thread is wide open.
Sundance Short Film Tour 2018
Opened July 5 in select cities and is touring the country; opens Friday, November 2, at the Tower Theatre (Salt Lake City). Not rated, but probably PG-13 for thematic elements and some language. Some shorts are in Spanish, Korean and French, with subtitles. Running time: 91 minutes.