Written by: Jaime Winston
After covering the Sundance Film Festival for nearly a decade, it has become clear that Shorts Program entries can have just as much, sometimes more, depth as the fest’s feature-length films.
Wren Boys, directed by Harry Lighton, is certainly in that “more” category.
Conor (Lalor Roddy), a priest in County Cork, Ireland, delivers his sermon recalling his community’s once-held tradition for fathers to send children to the woods on St. Stephen’s Day with large sticks to hunt wrens (small songbirds). “Tradition can bevery cruel,” he says. However, he adds that tradition does not legitimize cruelty. Later, the chain-smoking priest accompanies his nephew Seamus (Diarmuid Noyes) to a prison to visit an inmate. While in a waiting area, Conor and Seamus attract attention. Soon, we learn exactly why and how their visit is a break from tradition, particularly for a priest. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the traditionalists to act violently against it.
While the film is only about 11 minutes long, the characters develop quickly, and the image of a dead wren in a boy’s hand and the final scene stay with you days later. Wren Boys was nominated for a British Independent Film Award and has won a number of awards, including Best Short Film at the UK Film Festival and the London Calling Jury award. It is also a nominee for a BAFTA award.
Wren Boys and other Sundance shorts will play at the Holiday Village Cinema 4 in Park City on Friday, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. Buy your tickets here.
For more film reviews, red carpet pics and details on the happens of Sundance 2018, click here.