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Short Film Reviews: February 2020

Every month from now on, to encourage me to check out more short films, I plan to have one blog post at the start of the month covering every short film I had seen previously. For this post, I am looking at three completely different short films that I saw in February: Nefta Football Club, What Did Jack Do? and Maggie Simpson in Playdate with Destiny.

Nefta Football Club
One of the five shortlisted films for Best Live-Action Short at the Oscars this year was Nefta Football Club, a French film directed and written by Yves Piat. In a Tunisian village, children are playing football whilst two brothers discover a donkey with headphones on its ears and bags full of white powder on its back.

This is a short film that is personal to me, having been one that I watched back in May of 2019. As part of a Young Programmers group, our team were selecting short films to showcase at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Out of the huge amount of submissions that were sent in for us to screen and choose from, my favourite of the lot was easily Nefta Football Club.

Many people who submitted short films either submitted something that felt underwhelming or overly produced or edited, going for style over substance. Yves Piat is extremely clever with his direction here, creating a story that is not only compelling and strong narrative-wise but is entertaining and uses humour effectively.

Watching it back again before the Oscars, I was so glad to see the Academy appreciate this type of storytelling. Unlike most short films that they nominate, Nefta Football Club is a fun and easy watch that I would love to go back to and watch over and over again. It is available on Vimeo for anyone to check out, and I would highly recommend you doing so,


What Did Jack Do?

Originally played in the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in 2017, David Lynch’s experimental short film What Did Jack Do? came onto Netflix in January 2020. In this experimental film from Lynch, a detective investigates a capuchin monkey who may have committed murder.

As with any Lynch project, this is as weird as it possibly gets. This film experiments with the idea of a talking monkey, with a man’s lips and audio being placed on a monkey. This is what I enjoy out of short films: the idea of taking risks and playing with new ideas. Whilst it would be hard to make a subject like this work for a full-length movie, it works here.

The narrative itself is very simple, but it is the dialogue that elevates it. The dialogue is jarring, not making full sense and feeling referential to perhaps other films of this style. It has a lot of fun with the subject matter and helps elevate the experimental element of this project.

Whilst I do not think that David Lynch’s performance is that captivating and I am not fully sold on how the film ends, I appreciate any project like this that takes risks and uses its medium to showcase what can be done in films in this day and age. It is a good practice and we wouldn’t expect anything less from David Lynch.


Maggie Simpson in Playdate with Destiny

It was a surprise to me that Pixar decided to begin their screenings of Onward with a showing of Maggie Simpson in Playdate with Destiny, a short film from The Simpsons. This is the first time this has happened, due to Disney buying Fox in 2019. When Maggie Simpson heads to a park, she bumps into a boy and she starts to fall for him.

This is simply adorable as a short film, having such a cute subject matter. Whilst The Simpsons are known to push boundaries with humour, this one is kept to a child-friendly manner and yet it still works as a Simpsons project. The use of Homer, Marge and Maggie keeps their behaviours and will give audiences who know them a sense of familiarity with them whilst still being more family-friendly than usual.

There is no dialogue in this film, which makes sense as the focus of this short film is on two babies.  However, this means that the film can have fun with the animation and the visuals, recreating even key moments of other films and having fun with the subject matter. This is great to see and add some humour to what is a simple narrative.

This was a nice genuine surprise to go and see, and it is nice that Pixar kept the short film to a tight four minutes in comparison to others they have released recently. This served as a great opening to a Pixar film and hyped me up, which is what a good short film should do in this case. Make sure you turn up to your screening of Onward on time to see this.


Have you seen any of these short films? Which ones were your favourite? And what short films from the list are you now interested in seeing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.

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