Documentaries are always big at Sundance. Except when they're small. This year's selection of documentary shorts was one of the best programs I've seen so far. They were all good but here are a few of the highlights:
Quadrangle by director Amy Grappell. This movie is the result of a daughter interviewing her estranged parents; parents who befriended another couple in the 70s and soon found themselves swapping partners. The split-screen dialogue was strange and a little shocking. I expected that. I didn't expect it to be so warm and funny.
Drunk History: Tesla and Edison by directory Jeremy Kramer. Speaking of funny, this is the most hysterical short doc I've ever seen. Here's the idea. Take a guy, have him drink a six pack of beer and a half a bottle of absinthe, and then film him as he recounts history. That alone was funny enough. But the Kramer took it a step further, with bad history-channel-like reenactments featuring John C. Riley as Tesla and Crispin Glover as Edison. Brilliant! I've heard there are other Drunk History lessons on YouTube. I can hardly wait to investigate.
Notes on the Other by directory Sergio Oksman. This beautiful film brings together a host of stories with surprising lyricism. It begins with Ernest Hemingway's first encounter at the running of the bulls where he watches from a hotel window as a man is gored. We meet the descendant of that very man who now barricades himself in the family business near the very location where his great grandfather was gored. From this vantage point the shopkeeper takes dramatic pictures that look back towards Hemingway's historical view. Throw in a gaggle of Hemingway look alikes and you have a movie that weaves a wondrous thread of human life.