A clip from Kang Min Kim’s (Film/Video MFA 11) ‘38-39 Degrees Celsius,’ which screens at Sundance.
The 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 19-29, 2012, includes eight films by seven CalArts alumni of the School of Film/Video, a record number of CalArtian filmmakers at the festival.
Out of the 32 films in the Sundance Shorts Program, the seven CalArtian films represent all four programs of the School of Film/Video: Character Animation, Experimental Animation, Film and Video and Film Directing. Three of the films selected originated as MFA thesis films.
- First Birthday is Andrew Ahn‘s (Film/Video MFA 10) CalArts thesis film in which a a gay Korean American man yearns for a family life just out of reach.
- The Thing is Rhys Ernst‘s (Film/Video MFA 11) thesis film. A synopsis: Zooey has spent weeks planning a road trip to a mysterious roadside attraction known as The Thing in the hopes that she and Tristan will reconnect. Both Tristan, an FTM transman, and his fluffy cat Steven struggle to find places to comfortably pee, while Zooey learns the open road isn’t everything she hoped it would be.
- Mosquita y Mari is a feature film by Aurora Guerrero, in which she explores the complexities of a budding friendship between two Chicana high schoolers in Los Angeles’s Huntington Park. Yolanda is stellar in her studies and makes her parents proud, while Mari has just moved to town with her undocumented family. On her first day of school, Mari is assigned to be Yolanda’s study partner. After a rocky start, the two find a bond that confuses them at times.
- 38-39 Degrees Celsius is Kang Min Kim’s (Film/Video MFA 11) thesis film. It centers on a a man with a big birthmark on his back as he enters an old public bathhouse. He falls into a dream where he confronts his father who has the same birthmark.
- The Diatom by Christopher Peters (Interschool BFA and MFA 2000) explores the diatom as the basis of the aquatic food chain. It produces most of the oxygen on earth and is a key scientific indicator of the health of a water system. In order to understand our place in the world, this mixed-mode ‘science film’ observes renowned Utah-based scientist Sam Rushforth and his team in the wide, isolated landscape, then in the lab and finally goes through the microscope to the diatom itself.
- Avocados by Kataneh Vahdani (Film/Video BFA 05, MFA 08) is a journey with many characters in one day through a city.
- Travis Wilkerson (Film/Video MFA 01) has two short films at Sundance.
- Fragments of Dissolution is a poetic, anguished cry from the heart of a rotting empire. “Four women describe their own unique hells. Children, brothers, and friends burned alive while simply trying not to freeze. Husbands and sons deployed over and over, who kill themselves rather than fighting again. From Ft. Lewis to Detroit, the empire is devouring its own intestines.”
- Pluto Declaration: From the program notes “Restore the classical definition of planet! Bring back planet Pluto! The solar system is 12!”
In addition to these film graduates, CalArts’ School of Theater alumnus Lars Jan (Theater MFA 08) presents the multimedia piece ABACUS, which includes video as well as live performance, in the festival’s New Frontier series.
“This extraordinary showing at Sundance reflects the talent and truly inventive spirit of CalArts trained filmmakers and the faculty who mentored them,” says School of Film/Video Dean Steve Anker. “The level of achievement in our school has always been high, but in recent years, we’ve seen more awards, and recognition at festivals and in museums—all for work by filmmakers who share a fierce independence and an uncompromising commitment to a personal voice.”