In less than a week, the 2017 Sundance Film Festival will kick-off in Utah on Jan. 19. The 10-day, independent film festival honors 200 feature-length and short films each year for their compelling and innovative work.
This year’s festival features films, documentaries, shorts and creative works from seven California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) alumni, who were chosen from a pool of more than 12,000 submissions.
The U.S. Dramatic Films category features work from director and screenwriter Eliza Hittman, a 2010 CalArts master’s graduate. “Beach Rats” follows an aimless teenager, Frankie, who escapes his life by causing trouble with its delinquent friends and by flirting with men online.
Things become complicated for Frankie when he starts hooking up with guys at a nearby beach while starting a relationship with a woman.
“This exquisitely crafted, scrupulously authentic, dark, and dangerous film propels Eliza Hittman into a league with the greats,” the Sundance Film Festival website read.
“Beach Rats” will have its world premiere at the festival with screenings on Jan. 23 and Jan. 28.
In the World Cinema Documentary category, Rahul Jain, a 2015 CalArts master’s graduate, brings viewers into the world of one of thousands of textile mills in industrialized Sachin, India in his documentary titled “Machines.”
Through his film, which he directed and produced, Jain explores the “intertwining of worker and machine, labor and commodity” while exploring the lives of the factory’s migrant workers.
“Machines” will hold showings from Jan. 20 to Jan. 27.
Two CalArts alumni are presenting work in the New Frontier category, which experiment with traditional storytelling through art and media technology.
Eric Darnell, a 1990 CalArt’s master’s graduate, is debuting his second installment in his “Invasion” visual reality animation series titled “ASTEROIDS!”
The interactive film allows viewers to choose the path of alien duo Mac and Cheez as they encounter danger in outer space.
Attendees will have a chance to interact with the animated film at the “VR Palace” throughout the festival.
Also showing work in the category is Travis Wilkerson, a 2001 CalArts’ master’s graduate.
His film and performance piece “Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?” tells the story of a 1946 murder of Bill Spann, a black man, by S.E. Branch, by a white Southern racist, in rural Alabama.
Sundance officials described the live documentary as “part séance, part detective story, part horror story and 100 percent American story.”
Wilkerson will perform his piece Jan. 20 and Jan. 22.
Zachary Zezima, a CalArts’ experimental animation graduate, will conduct week-long showings of his animated short “It’s A Date” in which he was the film’s director, screenwriter, producer, editor and animator.
“It’s A Date” explores miscommunication and vulnerability in the modern world by turning people into aliens because “everyone is an alien at first.”
Ki Jin Kim, a 2010 CalArts master’s graduate, and Giulia Caruso, a 2013 CalArts master’s graduate, are co-producers on “Columbus.”
The film is in the NEXT category, which explores innovative, forward-thinking approaches to storytelling.
“Columbus ,” from Seoul-born filmmaker Kagonada, follows Jin, a boy stuck in an unusual Midwestern city, as he forms a friendship with Casey, a girl that works at the city library.
Through dialogue and visuals, the film explores “how people experience space and absence” through modernism.
It will hold showings from Jan. 22 to Jan. 28.