Best Short Films

Snap Short Film

We’re teaming with The Current to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The final short film, Snap!, features a young woman admitting to her boyfriend that she cheated on him before he can find out through the online grapevine. Naturally, there’s a video. It becomes a living, shared relic of the ruination of their relationship, and the short film shrewdly toys with the question of whether he’ll watch it and how much more damage can be done. “I’m from a small town in Western Zealand, where I attended a hippie school with only 60 pupils far out on the countryside,” says director Kristian Foldager.  “It was a good playground for my creativity – a safe haven from the rest of society that I still feel rather detached to. Today my playground is an office I share with four fellow filmmakers in Central Copenhagen. I’ve been self-employed for eight years – doing shorts, docs, music videos and commercials. “As a child I observed people and situations around me, but was scared of interaction. Today I’m not afraid of interacting, but often struggle with the fascination part. I probably was a better filmmaker as a child. “I wrote this little story around Snapchat, since everyone seems eager to share embarrassing videos with this app.  Four days later the Snapchat leak happened, exposing erotic content with young kids. “The film deals with loss of innocence and the danger of exposed secrets. No one in the film is bad or […]

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Trapped Short Film

We’re teaming with The Current to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The eighth short film, Trapped, uses increasingly alienating images of one man in order to show the pointless corners of a digital connection. When does the greatest tool ever invented become a hindrance? This short film seeks to display a dark side of technology by reflecting the hollowness of the internet as a time-waster. “My field of interest and creative activity revolves around ‘in-between’ universes of fiction and documentary filmmaking, and photography,” says director Malwa Grabowska. “I am fascinated by what’s possible at the borders of the dominant. I fall for hybridity within art and culture. “I’m affected by the challenging and thought-provoking story-telling and work process. I contemplate personal narratives, experiences and internal drives: fears, emotions, feelings. I’m drawn to people’s intimate accounts, self-confrontation and reflection. I dare to observe from a very close, edgy distance. I care and try to get insight into the social conditions. I am on a quest to challenge the boundaries and ask questions. “We live in a hybrid culture and are constantly surrounded by technology which enables digital space, that is becoming a parallel space we live in. There are questions we all need to start asking ourselves in a broader sense as well. Does this common to us digital experience enhances our physical life or lets us down? I feel that we might need to start considering self-imposed limits within this limitless virtual content, […]

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we just didnt care short film

We’re teaming with The Current to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The seventh short film, We Just Didn’t Care, puts us into the bedroom crawl space of the last man on earth as he explains how he ended up alone. It’s the current concern played to its extreme, and it features an unbearable amount of light and a vision of us as Darth Vader. “The disregard for nature and human life nowadays has reached a level I never thought it would ever reach,” says 21-year-old director Eddie Mitra. “This whole idea started from my frustration with the illegal deforestation going on in Romania. Entire forests have been cut down not so far from my home. If you a few years ago you could go for a trip in the forest, you didn’t have to go far. Now, it’s only empty fields and mountains without a tree left on them. “I wanted to show that people’s priorities in today’s society are completely wrong. We lost touch with nature and money/power has become our sole goal. “There is no other species on this planet more hostile towards its environment than human beings. Pollution, deforestation or animal poaching are just a few examples of how people treat nature as a means to achieve financial profit through destruction. “I wanted to show a worst case scenario. Of course, there’s no guarantee what the future has in store for us, but if we keep up this destructive behavior, my […]

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The Bad Ones

We’re teaming with The Current to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The sixth short film, The Bad Ones, features a young actor trying to get across an emotional monologue while the director keeps making changes. It’s an exercise in frustration, intensified by neither party really understanding what the performance — grounded in a religious change — should get across. Maybe it needs a scarf. “I believe that Muslims are possibly the most misrepresented group in American news media,” says director Dustin Wadsworth. “In the news coverage surrounding radical Islamic groups like ISIS, important distinctions between the majority of all Muslims and terrorist organizations are very rarely made. There seems to be a tendency to talk about ‘the Muslim world’ as if it is all the same thing. “I’m excited to be a part of The Current this season as I see this as an opportunity to show a side to a story that I believe is important and through engaging the heart, the head should follow. “As a culture we are constantly bombarded with news disguised as social commentary, good and bad, that really seeks to beat you over the head with an idea. The click bait news stories with headlines that don’t live up to the content, the talking head video clips where one commentator “owns” a guest or vice versa, etc. As it becomes easier to pass on and share these ideas we need to be able to think critically about what […]

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Candy Short Film

We’re teaming with The Current for the next two months to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The fifth short film, Candy, bounces between images of a woman walking through crowded streets and explaining her sexuality while seated on a stool that definitely wasn’t designed for her. As she strolls, she appears to relish the attention, but as she describes a personal evolution, it seems more likely that she holds her head up high because she knows a secret to life. What is true power? What is true self-esteem? How we do we see members of the opposite sex? Here’s one intriguing viewpoint. “Passion, curiosity and thirst for knowledge have defined my work and career; I am always willing to learn, and embrace new ideas and perspectives,” says director Daniel Salan. “I currently work part time as an Art Director / Graphic designer, and additionally run my own little studio where work with film and visual communication, both professionally and with my own personal projects. “I have been working with film in different forms, though music videos have dominated my line of work; it is a format I find extremely fun and challenging. Currently, however, I am moving in a new direction, and scratching the surface of the drama genre. “Through the main character Candy, who is a determined and strong sex positive feminist woman, I want show the fine line between sexuality and integrity of a woman. Also to raise questions about gender equality, […]

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username666 short film

Last week I introduced you to some of my favorite creepy short films on YouTube, perfect for your Halloween party YouTube playlist. (Does anyone do that? If not, you should, because that sounds awesome.) Those films were live action horrors. This week, I bring you the animated fare. Since animation is limited only by the bounds of the artist’s imagination, I find it tends to be creepier and far more surreal. If you disagree, please swear profusely at me in the comments! Also, feel free to share some your favorites. Here we go:

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Among Others Short Film

We’re teaming with The Current for the next two months to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The fourth short film, Among Others, takes a young man living in a high rise apartment and a young woman walking through a barren field to find out what they have in common. It’s poetic in that slow, methodical way we’ve come to expect of serious work, but not content to stay quiet, it ramps up its intensity as one character struggles physically with his environment. By the end, you want desperately for him to do something you know he won’t do. Framed this way, life in the crowded city becomes a beautiful prison. “Many people are lonely, even though they are not alone,” says director Kerren Lumer-Klabbers. “It puzzles me that even though we live side by side in big cities, walk among each other on the street surrounded by people all the time, we do not acknowledge the existence of many of the people we pass by. “I grew up on the countryside raised with my brother by our two mothers. In 7th grade I got my first video camera, and I fell in love with filmmaking. I didn’t know what a director was, before one of my relatives by chance said that maybe I should be one. I typed “film director” on Google and thought that I sounded pretty cool. So that’s what I have been doing ever since. “The most important thing for me is […]

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Daniel Borgman/The Current

We’re teaming with The Current for the next two months to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The third short film, Deadbeat, feels like it might make a great alternative opening to Drive. Director Daniel Borgman decided to find a figure who none of us would normally think worthy of documentation or exploration, and he landed on a young man who cares deeply about doing skids and tire burnouts with his car. “I’m interested in the way people manage in the world we live in, what they do to survive and what they are driven by,” says Borgman. “I’m also interested in the sublime. I wonder, ‘Where do we look for moments of peace and how do we access something greater than the material?’ Many people search for a moment, an awakening beyond what we consider normal living, something to affect them in a deeper more abstract way. Often that pursuit varies from person to person, and sometimes those pursuits are in conflict with one another, even though in there essence all pursuits of emancipation share a commonality. “I think storytelling is a way to bring people closer to one another, to share and give insight into worlds that we don’t normally experience.”

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Download Repost Share Enjoy Short Film

We’re teaming with The Current for the next two months to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The second short film, Download Repost Share Enjoy, is a deeply unsettling bit of experimental video art that delivers the text from a revenge porn site manifesto in extreme close-up with an anonymous beard mouth. It’s blended with scenes where a young woman looks imprisoned in a way Buffalo Bill might enjoy and a too-young man feverishly clicking his keyboard. The result is uncomfortable, particularly with the droning synth discordance backing it. “Revenge porn is a disgusting tendency that’s developing throughout the internet,” says director Christina Amundsen. “When the picture is first exposed there is no going back. It will be spread all over the world. It is important to create awareness to this since sexism still exists in our society. I am shocked to discover the statements of the men behind the revenge websites. It is something people need to know and stop now. I want to show how being exposed by revenge porn can ruin a woman’s life.”

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Watchtower of Turkey Short Film

The tourism board for Turkey owes Leonardo Dalessandri all of their money. He’s crafted a short film that spins and flashes through the many souls of the country, offering a gorgeous view of crowded city streets, solemn spaces and bright natural landscapes. Dalessandri’s visuals are hypnotizing in both a picture postcard and “Humans of New York” kind of way, but beyond the poetry, he’s utilized hyperlapse and A.D.D. editing to create a euphoric, disorienting experience. Shots of flying birds and people in prayer and men selling ice cream seem to fold into one another as Dalessandri uses similar shapes to make his cuts for him. Frame different shots of a dog and a jaguar leaping over fences in the same space, smash cut, and the result is a magic trick that pours fizzy water on the brain. The sound design also aids the task by punctuating key moments and offering a percussive framework for the timing. The music (“Experience” by Ludovico Einaudi) is pulse-pounding, but it’s also the slap of a game tile on the table or the laughter of a child doing cartwheels in front of the Blue Mosque that pulls it all together. Oh, and it’s Turkey. Breathing, living, frantic Turkey. Absolutely gorgeous. For more fun, let Dalessandri take you to Morocco.

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New Status Short Film

We’re teaming with The Current for the next two months to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The first short film, New Status, is an exercise in frustration when a major life event gets filtered through a cell phone. It’s a simple (now well-worn) concept given irritatingly funny life and a scream-worthy punchline. “My intention is to question the constant accessibility our smartphones provide and what it does to the way we communicate these days. It comes to a point where people are more focused on sharing with the world what a great time they are having, instead of actually having a great time. If we do not find the discipline to put the smartphone away once in a while, and have an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation, we will end up communicating via the smartphone only,” says director Maj-Britt La Cour.

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La Carnada Short Film

This summer the immigration crisis hit a feverish high with tens of thousands of women and children crossing the border illegally in search of a safe haven from dangerous Central American countries like Honduras. The situation was met with both compassion and the red foreheads of those afraid that starving children (yes, children) were here to kill us with leprosy or by depleting our national reserve of Fruit Roll-Ups. Texas Governor Rick Perry even stated that the influx of large number of child immigrants may have been part of a detailed plan crafted by the drug cartels, although he didn’t go into specifics on what the plan was meant to achieve. This short film from Josh Soskin lives next door to the issue. It features a young boy trying to save his mother’s life. Desperate for money, he accepts the worst job possible. With shades of Sin Nombre (which rightly vaulted Cary Fukunaga into prominence), La Carnada uses gorgeous imagery to deliver a disgusting reality. It’s a somber short film that has excellent energy, leaning on an intimate and immediate problem for which there is no simple solution. Manny (Angel Gabriel Soto) is a sobering figure, willing to speak plainly to a silver-tongued drug smuggler, but also incapable of turning down an offer that comes with a wad of cash. This short is as beautiful as it is troubling.

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L4st Short Film

Why Watch? This short film proves that at least one filmmaking collective in Finland is obsessed with the fungus-murdering “The Last of Us.” Mikko Löppönen and company have created a slick action set piece that earns its haunting atmosphere with navel gazing music and uncomfortably long shots of a decrepit location. L4ST barely has any dialogue, and it doesn’t exactly need what it has. It’s a brief anxiety attack, shot in a way that forces you to try to look around corners even though you have no control over the scene. That echo of video game views helps sell the survival, but the short’s greatest strengths are the choreography and execution of its fight scenes. Quick, sharp and simple, they mirror the ferocity necessary to survive in a world with few supplies and many dangers. Someone give these people a bigger budget.

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Man Short Film

Why Watch? This short film from Richard Hughes is sweat and gristle. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a fist. Yet like most outstanding explorations of manhood, Man proves the power and pure muscle are not enough to make you whole. It focuses on a middle-aged sheep shearer who’s one bad afternoon away from being sent to pasture. He takes a young kid under his wing, trying to teach him to stay on the right path, but the young troublemaker has the unfortunate solution to the old man’s problem in a tiny plastic bag. Man is aggressive and unrelenting — with evocative shots that place us firmly in the dirt and heat of the barn to a storming performance from a feral Shane Connor as the old man. He growls his way through a forced paternal role, anchored by strident frustration and a too big piece of himself that wants to do the right thing. There’s a strong parallel here to the Oscar nominated Bullhead, both for its subject matter, its tragic sense of fading dominion and its exhausting intensity. This is one hell of a fantastic short film.

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Game Night Short Film

Why Watch? This short film from Noah Blodgett and Jacob LaMountain defies most of the common sense ways to grab attention online. It doesn’t start off with a big dramatic scene, it isn’t sci-fi with homegrown CGI, and it doesn’t attempt to overwhelm your senses. It’s also non-narrative, focusing on two young men (played by the writer/directors) meeting up for an all-night sparring session for which we’re never told the rules of the game. Instead, it works by engaging raw, primal curiosity and doing a lot with a little. It’s not the slickest no-budget production out there, but it at least does $5,000’s worth with $50. Part of that is due to clever moves like using an RV’s windows to act as a natural split screen, and part of it is due to finding strangeness in simplicity. The best example of that is their twist on Rock-Paper-Scissors. The entirety of Game Night is like watching Calvinball. Are there rules? If not, why do these kids get together every night to chug colored water and destroy playing cards? Why are they keeping score (and how much is “red” worth)? The short casually waves as gnawing questions float by –undoubtedly out of experimental necessity. However, there’s also a practical reason: in a story universe featuring two guys getting together to play a unique game that’s old hat for them, how could you possibly exposition-dump an explanation? Yes, there are amateur elements, and yes, many will walk away from this frustrated beyond belief, but this short film […]

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Streamline Short Film

Why Watch? This short film from Dan Marcus deals with memory, but it feels more like a dream. In Streamline, a man in a suit is being chased through a traumatic series of events in his past while attempting to come to terms with a horrible father and a mysterious woman who has access to his mind. This isn’t the first time Marcus has looked at both 1) strained father/son relationships that cropped up because of 2) the mother dying. We featured his short film Wake a few years back, which boasted stirring camera work that highlighted the strength of that theme, and Streamline is no different. Fortunately it comes with a tilted take on a standardized sci-fi setup — not that it’s a mindblowing twist or anything, it’s really just a deft move of shifting expectations at the right moment. Unfortunately, the film is mellowed by amateurish, hollow acting that takes some of the hyper-real blocking and makes it feel stagey. Cheryl Graeff does well as a stalwart guide through the mind, but the main hero feels a bit comatose. Otherwise, the key components to an engaging, emotional sci-fi film are all here.

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Identity Theft Short Film

Why Watch? Fair warning: by the end of this short film, you may hate smiley faces (if you don’t already). Bryan Baca’s Identity Theft seems almost quaint after this week’s massive dump of stolen photos, but real life doesn’t take away from the monstrous tension created here as our hero Shayne tries to woo a girl through his instant messaging client. He’s nervous, recognizing a chance to be happy and not wanting to screw it up, but someone else has more sinister plans for his budding relationship. Baca and company do a great job of learning from the Kubrick school, molding a wordless, one-man script into a slowly churning nightmare where the concept of control is flipped upside down. Plus, they’ve managed to make a movie about cyber security where the villain isn’t a hacker or a Catfish or a phisher or any other of the terrible titles we give people who scam and steal electronically. Yes, it’s tense, but it’s hair-raising in that midnight movie kind of way. The practical effects need a little work, but nothing diminishes the eerie tone and the legitimate, rhetorical question that the film is bringing to life.

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Interview With a Time Traveler

Why Watch? This short film from James Cooper features a Don Draper-esque stranger who welcomes a journalist into his hotel room for an interview, only the mysterious man isn’t from the 1960s — he’s from the future. Far into it, in fact, and he has a lesson for our time. Cue chants of “Klaatu Barada Nikto.” It’s impossible to miss the touches of Interview with the Vampire in Interview with a Time Traveler, particularly the notably serious tone drafted onto a sci-fi concept that can often be fairly silly. This is a trope imbued with mortal danger. What works best about this short is the appearance of low stakes that feel incredibly high. This is a conversation capped with a question that the journalist either has to accept or reject, and while it affects him greatly (and while the language is all severe), it’s difficult to fully imagine the larger implications beyond this one moment in an anonymous hotel room. The dialogue is overblown in parts (I never trust people who speak in quotations), but it’s shot with intensity (particularly in a small space), and the overall steel-cold tone is affecting in portraying temporal jumping as something sinister and volatile.

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The Gunfighter Short Film

Why Watch? If you want to mine this short film for its most profound nugget, you’ll find a question of what it’s like to live in a completely transparent society, one where your deepest shames and desires aren’t secret. How do you live when your inner world is made public? If you don’t want to look that deep, you can still revel in Nick Offerman playing a trickster god narrator who tries his best to send bullets flying in a stereotypical Western saloon. Marked by poetic voice over, it’s also fantastically funny. Written by Kevin Tenglin and given cinematic life by director Eric Kissack, The Gunfighter twists the plot conceit of Stranger Than Fiction into a commentary on genre tropes, whiskey-slinging and itchy prostitutes. Clever and thorough in its execution, everyone on the production team is game for the absurdity, showing both the love required to truly lampoon something and the wit to find the flaws in the object of that love.

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Misinventions of Milo

Why Watch? Milo is a young boy who’s constantly working out the kinks. His garage boycave is a wonderland of DIY science equipment cobbled together using the best electronics of 1988, but his inventions never work quite right. That might be a good thing, though, because his ideas are ridiculous. His most recent absurd concept? A Reverse Microwave that doesn’t so much make food instantly cold as it sends things back in time. You might even mislabel it “a time machine.” This short film from writer/director William Whirity is fantastically endearing. A perfect representation of the kinds of childhood adventures that canvased 1980s filmmaking from Joe Dante to Amblin. Milo (played with lisping energy by Charlie Bazzell) is a really cool geek who deals with bullies, finances his inventions with a cheating scam and even has his own adorable catch phrases. From the thrilling score to the tension of a teacher’s footfalls down the hall to the sweet buddy comedy, The Misinventions of Milo Weatherby is pitch perfect. It’s a miniature Goonies with a sci-fi twist. Whirity has crafted a winning story that succeeds by amplifying low stakes into how large they feel when you’re small. (Sidenote: it’s not at all structured like a sitcom, but it would make for a great TV show where Milo and his pal Levi go on a new quest every week.)

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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