- Cannes International Shorts WINNER BEST ANIMATION
- Cannes Indie Cinema Awards WINNER BEST ANIMATION
- Amsterdam Short Film Festival WINNER BEST ANIMATION
- Toronto Indie Shorts WINNER BEST ANIMATION
- SPARK Animation OFFICIAL SELECTION
- HollyShorts OFFICIAL SELECTION
- Animation Dingle OFFICIAL SELECTION
- Cinequest OFFICIAL SELECTION
- Montreal Independent Film Festival NOMINEE
- London International Film Festival OFFICIAL SELECTION
- ANNY Animation Nights New York OFFICIAL SELECTION
- Dallas International Film Festival OFFICIAL SELECTION
- UK Film Festival London OFFICIAL SELECTION
Ninety-five Senses, an animated short produced and underwritten by MAST, directed by Jerusha Hess (Austenland, Napoleon Dynamite, Don Verdean) and Jared Hess (Minecraft, Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre), written by Chris Bowman and Hubbel Palmer (Minecraft, Masterminds, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life) and featuring Tim Blake Nelson (Nightmare Alley, Watchmen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), premiered at HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA in August last year. The film’s producers are MAST co-founders Miles David Romney, a veteran Broadway investor and co-producer (Moulin Rouge!, Hadestown, Jagged Little Pill), and Tori A. Baker, CEO of Salt Lake Film Society and formerly with the Sundance Institute.
Ninety-five Senses tells the story of a man facing his own mortality while reflecting on the grave mistakes of his youth. This is juxtaposed against the beauty of life and how we perceive it. “It may be that in the next life, we’ll have ninety-five senses,” he muses. The film comprises five scenes, with connective vignettes, animated in six distinctive styles.
The animators were all winners of the inaugural MAST Springboard “Voices Seen” animation contest. This diverse, international group include Gabriella Badillo, Daniel Bruson, Michael Grover, Dominica Harrison, Dallin Penman, Jared Matthews, and KC Tobey, with their teams consisting of Adriana Arvizu, Tamara Cruz, Melissa Lopez, Cristina Lugo, Ruben Morales, Enrique Sañudo, and Scott McHenry.
HollyShorts, an Academy Award ® Qualifying festival, has a history of minting future Oscar winners and nominees, particularly animations. If Anything Happens I Love You, an official selection of the festival in 2020, went on to win the Academy Award that year for Best Short Film (Animated). Other HollyShorts alumni nominated for recent Oscars include animated gems Boxballet (2021), Sister (2019), and Weekends (2018). “We are thrilled to be premiering at HollyShorts,” says Tori A. Baker. “It’s the perfect festival for this beautiful piece, which shines when viewed as a narrative work—really a short film that happens to be animated.”
“Ninety-five Senses is just the beginning,” says producer Miles David Romney. “The MAST program is designed to create opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers and animators. Mentor support has been tremendous, including the incredible contributions of Jerusha and Jared Hess, Hubbel Palmer and Chris Bowman, and Tim Blake Nelson.” As to what comes next, Romney says, “Our next projects are in pre-production. We look forward to many premieres in the future!”
The film is innovative in that it features so many different animation styles and techniques worked into just thirteen minutes. "Working with these animators, each with a different style and at a different career stage, was a blast,” says director Jerusha Hess. “This story makes room for a lot of very different aesthetic visions, and seeing what came out of their heads was amazing." Director Jared Hess says, "The MAST program gave us a chance to mentor some up-and-coming artists—and work with some established pros—and it really let us all play in the sandbox and try something kind of wild, artistically and narratively. I can't wait to see what comes next!"
Writers Chris Bowman and Hubbel Palmer explain, "MAST presented us with an enticing creative challenge: Write a short narrative that can somehow accommodate a half-dozen stylistic shifts without jarring the audience. We conceived of Ninety-five Senses as a simple, almost trivial monologue by a rambling stranger that gradually reveals greater depths. By the end, hopefully we've touched on the nature of regret and redemption, even the morality of capital punishment." The pair adds, "The Hesses, as always, were uniquely inventive in their approach, and watching Tim Blake Nelson and these masterful artists interpret our words has been a true joy."
Producer Tori A. Baker brought Jerusha and Jared Hess to the project. “Jerusha’s and Jared’s work is so much fun, and they have been such generous supporters of the Salt Lake Film Society and MAST. And it was the prospect of working with them that attracted these world-class animators.”
Producer Miles David Romney was thrilled to get Tim Blake Nelson to voice Coy. “Tim has been a favorite actor of mine since his performance in Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother Where Art Thou. Chris and Hubbel delivered the script and said, ‘Tim Blake Nelson has to voice this role.’ Of course! And lucky for us, Tim’s a big fan of Jared and Jerusha Hess, and came on immediately.”
MAST, a program of the nonprofit Salt Lake Film Society, based in Salt Lake City, UT, was founded in 2019 to provide grants, training, and mentorship to filmmakers and animators, with a special emphasis on projects that change minds and change the world. Its program includes a fellowship, labs, mentorship, career advocacy, networking, contests, productions, and funding.