I do have quite a few short films to showcase, as I watched eight short films this week. However, I want to note in advanced that one of them is embargoed until the Sundance Film Festival and two of them are part of my University curriculum, hence why they have been watched this week. Regardless, here are the short films that I watched this week.
Director: Michael Shanks
Writer: Michael Shanks
Starring: Glen Hunwick, Peter Paltos, Holly Austin
Synopsis: Phil used to be a cutting edge special effect. As a stop-motion animated skeleton from the 1960s, modern movie studios just aren’t hiring him to star in blockbusters anymore. Refusing to succumb to his own irrelevance, Phil takes drastic measures when he learns the film for which he was created is being rebooted without him.
This is such a fabulous short, and perhaps one of the most technically well-crafted ones I have ever seen. Filled with personality and passion, the editing is incredibly sharp and the visual design is stunning. Without even uttering a word, the story flows beautifully and the narrative and message is clear. With such fun elements within it whilst sticking to a subject matter within filmmaking itself that has an emotional impact for many fans of this genre, this film is an easy recommendation for anyone.
Rebooted is available to watch on YouTube.
Notes from Dunblane: Lessons from a School Shooting
Director: Kim A. Snyder
Starring: Father Bob Weiss, Father Basil O’Sullivan
Synopsis: In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that took the lives of 20 first graders and their teachers, local clergymen Father Bob Weiss receives a letter from a fellow priest in Dunblane, Scotland, whose community suffered an eerily similar fate in 1996. From across the Atlantic, the two priests forge a poignant bond through the shared experience of trauma and healing.
As someone that is from Scotland and knows very well the story of the Dunblane shooting, this is a necessary short film and one that is told so well. To have that direct comparison between the situation in Newtown and Dunblane, both through the communication of letters between the priests and the situation itself, makes for a strong debate on gun laws and the clear impact school shootings have on the entire community. Despite being events that took place 16 years apart from each other, their emotions remain the same and the devastation never fully goes away. A haunting short documentary.
Notes from Dunblane: Lessons from a School Shooting is available to watch on Netflix.
How to Say I Love You at Night
Director: Andree Ljutica
Writer: Andree Ljutica
Starring: Mat Vairo, Chris Pertovski
Synopsis: When Paul (Chris Petrovski) refuses to leave, Benny’s (Mat Vairo) easy night of sex and drugs takes a strange turn in this sixteen-minute single take film exploring notions of male-on-male intimacy, sexuality, and violence.
An effective short film from first-time director Andree Ljutica with some fantastic filmmaking skills, from the 4:3 ratio used to make the one-shot scene feel claustrophobic and the performances from both Mat Vairo and Chris Petrovski helping bring this story to life. The opening credit is incredibly smart in tying the story together, and it is absolutely necessary to watch until the end of the credits to see the final bit of text that contextualises the message of the film. Whilst I wish we had more time to build-up to that final few minutes, this is expertly crafted and I cannot wait to see what Ljutica does next.
How to Say I Love You at Night is available to watch on Short of the Week.
Director: Joe Sill
Writer: Matisse Tolin
Synopsis: An animated cyberpunk thriller centred around a motorcycle gang of traffickers in a world of autonomous vehicles. Yuri and her brother Nyx face off against the Metro Task Force as they transport an important package to a client.
This film to me is a great piece for a showreel or portfolio, in which the director Joe Sill clearly shows that he has an eye for visual style and world-building. Unfortunately, four minutes is not enough time for us to be invested in this story or these characters, something that is required to have an emotional connection to the narrative. This is something that shows real potential, but this felt to me like a teaser for a video game or feature-length for what could be done with this world, not something that is satisfying in this four-minute runtime.
Autonomous is available to watch on Short of the Week.
Director: Shelagh Rowan-Legg
Writer: Shelagh Rowan-Legg
Starring: Jamie Birkett, Lucy Clements
Synopsis: Two female soldiers in a divided United Kingdom settle a score.
A fun short film that takes a twist on telling a story about periods. This short film works because of the clever script, having fun with the subject matter and not taking itself too seriously. Whilst I wish the editing was tighter and that the filmmaking itself was stronger, this is an enjoyable short film and shows the types of stories that can be told within this medium, it certainly is one of the more unique films I have seen.
Flow is available to watch on Vimeo.
A Trip to Brazil
Synopsis: A record of Italian emigrants on their way to a new life in Brazil.
[As part of University Required Watches]
I am always drawn to restored footage from the past, especially when this film is over a century old. Whilst I was not a fan of the yellow hue that was used in some footage, I loved the effect of the calming blue with the imagery of the sea. There are numerous sequences within this short film that fascinated me, particularly watching the stark contrast between this huge ship with its passengers all dressed up and the small rowing boats containing people who were less wealthy. There were several strong images like that throughout this film as the ship embarks on this long journey.
A Trip to Brazil is available to watch on the BFI Player for free.
Thames River Scenery – Panorama of the Crowded River
Director: Cecil M. Hepworth
Synopsis: Filmed from the front of a steam launch in a late Victorian summer, this film offers a glimpse of our 19th-century ancestors enjoying their leisure time.
[As part of University Required Watches]
A nice little study of the Thames River on what appears to be a busy, sunny day for a row. Short, sweet, and charming, we get a real sense of the scenery and the atmosphere of the town and the residents here.
Thames River Scenery – Panorama of the Crowded River is available to watch on the BFI Player for free.