Small Victories 

Bite-Sized Films in The Sundance Shorts Program

THE SIX DOLLAR FIFTY MAN Like the Six Million Dollar Man! But poorer. And a kid.

THE SIX DOLLAR FIFTY MAN Like the Six Million Dollar Man! But poorer. And a kid.

IT'S NOT OFTEN internet videos win prizes at the Sundance Film Festival—let alone distinguished-sounding things like "The Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking"—but such was the case at last year's Sundance, when funnyordie.com's hilarious Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln totally got props. For the one of you who still hasn't seen it (hi Mom!): An affable drunken chick oh-so-drunkenly recalls the relationship of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass; over her confused, giggly, half-slurred narration, a deadpan Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle, in full costume, act out her rambling history. Shot with the gauzy earnestness of a History Channel reenactment, it's one of the funnier things in the recent history of the internet.

It's also a great fit for The Sundance Shorts Program, a collection of some of the best short films from last January's 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Made up of nine international films that together clock in at just under two hours, there's hardly a dud in the bunch. A couple of highlights:

The Six Dollar Fifty Man (dirs. Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland)—Anytime a good film comes out of New Zealand that doesn't star a hobbit, you can practically hear the country's film industry sighing in relief. Kicking off The Sundance Shorts Program, The Six Dollar Fifty Man is a gorgeous, emotionally draining film that powerfully captures some of the shittier things about childhood—as well as one or two of that time's small victories.

Mr. Okra (dir. T.G. Herrington)—A sharp, funny profile of New Orleans as viewed through the windshield of Arthur "Mr. Okra" Robinson, who drives his gaudy truck around the Ninth Ward, happily singing out a list of the produce he has to sell.

My Rabit Hoppy (dir. Anthony Lucas)—An Australian short that feels like Cloverfield if Cloverfield was made by an adorable second-grader. Fantastic, obviously.

My Invisible Friend (dir. Pablo Larcuen)—This Spanish film starts out feeling like an even lower rent Napoleon Dynamite—hey, here's a fat, videogame-playing, comics-reading outcast! Let's laugh at him!—but grows into something far better once Sad Fatty's invisible friend—who talks in a robot voice and wears little more than a cape and an Admiral Ackbar mask—shows up.

Rob and Valentyna in Scotland (dir. Eric Lynne)—An expatriate American takes a super-romantic trip to Scotland with a smokin' hot Ukrainian chick! Except, uh, she's his cousin.

Other films include Don Hertzfeldt's animated and gruesomely funny Wisdom Tooth, which starts out black and white but grows increasingly blood-red; Ariel Kleiman's Young Love, which should've won Sundance's sought-after prize for Most Surreal Use of a Herd of Llamas; and Jenifer Malmqvist's Birthday, a sad, mopey film involving artificial inseminations and peeing in canoes. All of these films are worth seeing.

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