Each year, the Sundance Film Festival is home to hundreds of inventive films, from features to documentaries, from horrors to international standouts. But the short film category shouldn’t be discounted as an essential piece of the puzzle. Limited only by time (the longest 2010 entry running 36 minutes), these shorts explore the world of storytelling by presenting character, motivation and realization in a carefully crafted package.  

Let’s Harvest the Organs of Death Row Inmates
All of two minutes long, this short packs a powerful punch, addressing organ harvesting for death row inmates. The directors’ (Chris Weller and Max Joseph) decision to deliver the facts as a cartoon makes this short more accessible to the average viewer who may not know about the dangers of extracting organs from those who are put to death through lethal injection, electrocution and other forms of capital punishment.

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My Mom Smokes Weed
A lighthearted look at the dynamic of a mother-son relationship, "My Mom Smokes Weed" uses marijuana to tell the story of how two people come together despite their differences. Embarrassed by his widowed mother (Sylvia Luedtke) who smokes pot daily and demands extra attention, the main character (Nate Rubin) is forced go on a trip to the local pot dealer for a special herbal pick-up. This pseudo universe, where drug-dealing tough guys work at Starbucks and listen to the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” soundtrack, acts as the stage where both mother and son bond. 

Successful Alcoholics
Drake (T.J. Miller) and Lindsay (Lizzy Caplan) are alcoholics who find a way out of every situation. At a dinner party with old friends, they take off their shirts in an effort to hide an alcohol-induced vomiting incident. At work, they’re ideas are consistently praised despite their inability to stand up straight. Filled with a life of boozing and partying, Drake and Lindsay have it all. But on a business trip to Denver, Lindsay realizes she wants to stop drinking — for good. The story takes a heartfelt turn as Lindsay learns how to be sober and on her own — despite the lonliness that comes along with it.