Written and directed by Ben Phelps, who also made Nice Shootin' Cowboy, Checkpoint makes use of the vastness of the Australian outback. A husband and wife are driving along a deserted road with their teenage daughter when they are stopped by three soldiers. They have entered a restricted zone and the soldiers - threatening and racist - are unwilling to let them turn around. As with thrillers such as The Hills Have Eyes the seclusion is part of the problem.
Helium won the Best Short Film Academy Award in 2014, proving that your chances of Oscar success are significantly improved if you have a dying child in your film! Regardless, it is a touching and beautifully made film about a terminally ill boy, Alfred, who is not particularly enamoured with the prospect of Heaven: so the new janitor invents an alternative place called Helium, which is more to his liking. Make sure "captions" is turned on for English subtitles.
I haven't highlighted Photograph Of Jesus in a couple of years, during which time it's become quite popular on other sites (you saw it here first). It is a funny, interesting, stop-motion, animation documentary about some of the weirder and more asinine requests for photographs at Getty Images (including the request for a photograph of Jesus). It is narrated by an archivist Matthew Butson and is the second short film by London-based animator Laurie HIll.
Written and directed by Dayyan Eng, Bus 44 (Che si shi si, 车四十四 ) is one of my all time favourites. A nation of one billion souls should also appear in these pages. Bus 44 is one of those dramas that questions the human race. A bus travelling through rural China is boarded by robbers, who then turn their attention on the female driver. But who on the bus will put themselves at risk to help her? Bus 44 won an honourable mention at the Sundance Film Festival.