After the mania that was Sundance 2021, it was nice to get back into a pattern and focusing my attention on a select few short films to showcase here. Of course, now with the shortlist out for the Oscar categories, including 45 shorts listed across the three categories, I am also having a focus on which shorts I need to pay attention to. I want to try and watch all of the shorts before Nomination day, and I am making my way through them for sure.
For this week, I have six shorts to share and I hope you find something in this collection that you fall in love with. There is some great quality stuff in here.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tom Litten
Synopsis: A young man swims across the rivers and lakes of Britain to a soundtrack of assorted nationalistic music. As he passes people on the banksides including children, lovers and a tramp their thoughts and conversations are also heard. Ultimately, after walking through a wood at night, the boy returns to the water and appears to sink below the surface.
[WATCHED AS PART OF UNIVERSITY COURSE]
There is something about Lynne Ramsay’s direction that is raw and beautiful to watch. The black-and-white cinematography is so captivating, especially when set with this score overlaying the visuals. I do wish there was more of a story connected with this or a consistent lead to follow, but what a stunning film to watch visually.
Directors: Joe Wilson, Dean Hamer, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
Writers: Joe Wilson, Dean Hamer, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
Starring: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
Synopsis: Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit, led by Kapaemahu, brought certain healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and were loved by the people for their gentle ways and the miraculous cures they performed.
I am so glad that this short made it onto the Best Animated Short shortlist because it gave me a chance to discover it. It is films like these that make me miss 2D animation, as the visuals are stunning with this story. For a narrative that is focused on legends and beliefs, the story is impactful and so beautifully told. This is an easy recommendation.
Kapaemahu is available to watch on Vimeo.
Director: Steven Clay Hunter
Writers: Alan Barillaro, Peter Sohn, Brian Larsen, Steven Clay Hunter, Kristen Lester, Mary Coleman, Mike Jones, James Robertson
Starring: Bernadette Sullivan, Kyle McDaniel, Caleb Cabrera
Synopsis: On an average day, Greg’s life is filled with family, love and a rambunctious little dog – but despite all of this, Greg has a secret. Today is different, though. With some help from his precocious pup, and a little bit of magic, Greg might learn that he has nothing to hide.
How did I not hear of this short sooner, being on Disney+? This is such an important story, and one that has so much impact. Being slightly underwhelmed with other Sparknotes shorts on the D+ collection, I can easily recommend Out as one of the best animated shorts of the year. Good on Disney for telling this story.
Out is available to watch on Disney+.
The Snail and the Whale
Directors: Max Lang, Daniel Snaddon
Writers: Max Lang, Suzanne Lang
Starring: Rob Brydon, Sally Hawkins, Diana Rigg
Based on: The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Synopsis: The Snail and the Whale is the much loved classic that shows us a restless young snail who has ambitions to travel the world. The other snails think she should stay put, but she puts out a call for a “Lift wanted around the world”. Eventually, her call is answered by a great big grey-blue humpback whale! She sets off with him across the seas.
Growing up loving the tales of Julia Donaldson and the likes of The Gruffalo, I knew what the structure of this story would be like. The animation style is really well done, and it is a wonderful short film for children to fall in love with. I do think it is a little too long for how simple the story is and I would imagine the book has a nicer flow to it, but still an engaging and fun story.
The Snail and the Whale is available to watch on iPlayer.
Call Center Blues
Director: Geeta Gandbhir
Synopsis: A cinematic tale of deportation, migration, displacement and opportunistic capitalism, Call Center Blues follows four characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives in Tijuana. Each with a vastly different story, they are all linked by their displacement and the sole choice of call center work they have in a country that is so unfamiliar and oftentimes frightening, yet other times a ray of hope.
There is a really compelling story within this and a great concept for the documentary. However, having this so focused away from the call centers and not having one particular focal lead for the documentary means it sadly loses direction and makes the story less impactful than it should be.
Call Center Blues is available to watch on Vimeo.
Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa
Directors: Barbara Attie, Mike Attie, Janet Goldwater
Synopsis: At a Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors answer nonstop calls from women who seek to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determine who has access to abortion.
I am physically angry after watching this short film. How the US can place millions of women in danger and debt because of the current Abortion Laws that are in place is beyond me and this short perfectly captures that damage. It is heartbreaking to see these women speaking on the phone and telling their truth, being so vulnerable and begging for any help they can get. A must watch for anyone.
Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa is available to watch on Vimeo.