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Watch a trailer for the year's best Sundance movie

Written by
David Ehrlich

We saw more than 50 movies at Sundance this year, but the one that topped our list as the best of the fest was just 16 minutes long. And frankly, it wasn't even close. "World of Tomorrow" is the seventh Don Hertzfeldt short to play at Sundance (his 2000 entry, "Rejected," would eventually go on to be nominated for an Oscar), his second to win the festival's Grand Jury Prize for its category, and the first to make us feel that the rest of our year at the movies might be all downhill from there. 

RECOMMENDED: Read our full coverage of Sundance Film Festival

A whirlwind 16-minute adventure through space, time, memory and the limitless potential of the “outernet,” "World of Tomorrow" is the indie animator's first all-digital short (although the brilliantly deranged couch gag that he made for the most recent season premiere of The Simpsons served as something of a dry run). Hertzfeldt's most colorful film follows in its maker's proud tradition of dropping stick figures into grand existential crises, the story for this one introducing a 4-year-old British girl named Emily (Winona Mae) who’s too small and innocent to realize what’s happening when an adult clone of herself (Julia Pott) invites her for a tragicomic tour of the future. Their journey across space and time is packed with adventures both devastating and devastatingly funny—the young Emily is voiced by Hertzfeldt's niece, who's stitched her performance together from the hilarious snippets of audio he recorded while she was visiting him—and it builds to an emotional punch of the gut that bruises in the best way possible. Wise, hilarious and as formally daring as it is infinitely quotable, “World of Tomorrow” may not last very long, but it will stay with you forever.

Fortunately, you won't have to wait long to see it for yourselves (over and over and over again): "World of Tomorrow" will hit VOD on March 31. Check out the trailer below, and start counting down the days. 

Be sure to stay tuned to Hertzfeldt's site for all the latest info.

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