Inspirational short film series comes to Vimeo and Sundance


Cinelan and Vimeo announced today the global day-and-date premiere of the first five three-minute films in the Focus Forward – Short Films, Big Ideas initiative, which will be presented at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The films will make their world premiere on Tuesday, January 24th, at 12pm EST on and at a special screening during the festival, starting at 6pm MST at the Holiday Village 1 in Park City, Utah. The Focus Forward films will also be paired with features in the U.S. Documentary Competition and World Cinema Documentary Competition sections at Sundance. Focus Forward – Short Films, Big Ideas is a series of 3 minute non-fiction films about the incredible human power of ideas and invention.

Following the Sundance Film Festival, additional Focus Forward short films will continue to screen at numerous film festivals around the globe through relationships with festivals including the Berlinale Talent Campus, Tribeca Film Festival, and International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), among others.

The first five films in the series are:

  • Meet Mr. Toilet (Directed by Jessica Yu) – Oscar-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu (“In the Realms of the Unreal”) introduces us to Jack Sim, AKA Mr. Toilet, who uses unorthodox methods as he travels the globe raising awareness about the lack of sanitation in underdeveloped countries.
  • Hilary’s Straws (Directed by Phil Cox) – UK director Phil Cox (“The Bengali Detective”) unveils a moving mini-portrait of Hilary Lister, a quadriplegic champion sailor whose metal-and-circuit-board navigational tool, invented with friends, led her to conquer the oceans of the world.
  • The Landfill (Directed by Jessica Edwards and Gary Hustwit) – Training their eye on a facility in Delaware County, New York, Edwards and Hustwit (“Helvetica”) challenge the way we look at landfills, not as an ever-growing problem, but as a possible source of renewable energy.
  • Heart Stop Beating (Directed by Jeremiah Zagar) – Jeremiah Zagar (“In a Dream”) tells the story of Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier, two visionary doctors from the Texas Heart Institute who in March 2011 successfully replaced a dying man’s heart with a “continuous flow” device they developed, proving that life was possible without a pulse or a heart beat.
  • Newtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art of Human Waste (Directed by David W. Leitner) – Cinematographer/filmmaker David W. Leitner (“Trembling Before G-d”) looks at the unusual marriage of form and function at the jaw-droppingly beautiful Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn, New York.

Cinelan partnered with GE to create this new series of short non-fiction films. The effort, led by Cinelan co-founders Morgan Spurlock and Karol Martesko-Fenster, and head of special projects Douglas Dicconson, is working with Oscar- and award-winning documentary filmmakers, including Joe Berlinger, Lixin Fan, Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Phil Cox, Barbara Kopple, Nelson George, and Jessica Yu, to produce 30 three-minute films that will be featured at prestigious film festivals globally, followed by day-and-date distribution online to millions of viewers. These films will be telling the stories of visionaries such as scientists, engineers, economists, mathematicians, physicists, financiers, and in some cases everyday folks who have facilitated human progress or reshaped our world by their efforts and inventions. Without production oversight of the films, GE aims to have the program provide authentic, enjoyable content, aligned with its own mission to viewers globally.

Find out more about the series at

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