ONLY THE BEST SHORT FILMS


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Film Of The Week: Variations On A Theme


Variations On A Theme by Peter Collins Campbell (2023) (US) (8m)

A twist on previous films that explore cloning, like the classic short Copy Shop (2001), a young couple is splitting to produce clones of themselves, which allows this nicely-made grounded sci-fi to explore a relationship rather than the usual sense of exceptionalism (from which most humans suffer). It's also reminscent of the super low budget but excellent feature film Coherence (2014) and is very much on trend with its lowkey vibe.

House on Little Cubes

Call Me Mommy by Erickson & Washington (2023) (USA) (13m)

Call Me Mommy is a black comedy about a struggling actress (Erickson) being hired to act out the stages of childhood so a pregnant woman can prepare for motherhood. It reminds me very much a short film - the name of which escapes me - about a man paying actors to give him a childhood experience. There's much to admire in Call Me Mommy, especially the acting. There are some funny moments, though it is perhaps more whimsical than outright funny.


Goodbye by Tyler Russo (2015) (USA) (7m)

This CGI animation is simply brilliant. It could be classed as a horror, but is more disturbing than horrific. Having been killed in a road accident, a man finds himself bodiless and faced with a group of gatekeepers, who were once human but are now something else. It is the job of the gatekeepers to interview the man and decide upon a suitable vocation for eternity; and he should surely try to avoid becoming a gatekeeper.

The Guilt

Alma

Heading South by Yuan Yuan (2020) (China/USA) (13m)

The drama follows Chasuna, a Mongolian girl who stays the night with her father in Beijing to celebrate his birthday and to collect alimony. Beginning and ending on the steppe, it brings to mind the feature documentary The Eagle Huntress, though no one told the horse not to look at camera. It is an effective drama with superb acting and nice moments (like how differently dogs are treated) reminiscent of Lynne Ramsay.


Mister Hollow

Norm by Miguel Endara (2017) (USA) (13m)

In world where rape is legal, two men return from a drunken night out and encounter a sober housemate, who is part of the minority that believes in consensual sex and is thus there to be mocked and taunted. It is, of course, addressing the argument made by the majority who support the killing of animals for us to consume and their attitude towards the minority who believe we should not do this: the argument being that other animals eat animals so it therefore natural for us to do likewise.


Invincible by Vincent Rene-Lortie (2022) (Canada) (30m)

A young man in a young offenders institute dreams of freedom but his rebellious streak makes it unlikely. The opening scene gives away the ending, in a similar way to the feature film Carlito's Way (1993). The production values, directing, cinematography and acting are all superb, as is the whole mise-en-scene (linguistic pun intended), with water used to denote freedom (of course not an uncommon motif with its baptismal connotations).

8

The Bloody Olive

Finding Family by Ed Wiles (2024) (UK) (3m)

An annoyingly smiley presenter, very much like Davina McCall, on a reality TV show very much like Long Lost Family, wants the man searching for his mother on her show to cry on camera and is constantly encouraging him to do so. Things take an absurd turn when his mother turns out to be closer than he expected, but will the presenter get the tears she so desparately wants?


Prazinburk Ridge by Martin Bell (2022) (UK) (10m)

The Fs Festival Grand Prize Winner is the epic animation telling the story of Douglas Clark, a rugby league player who represented Great Britain before serving in WWI, where his athleticism and never-say-die attitude helped him save himself and his fellow soldiers during a German attack. It is a moving story of heroism with exceptional animation from Bell, who has worked in the film industry for many years, especially as a previz supervisor.

Small Deaths

In Between by Effie Pappa (2022) (Greece) (6m)

In Between is a comical stop-motion animation exploring the repetitiveness of everyday existence and our inability to find time for anything. So busy! But then time freezes for the three characters in the film. It was a hit on the short film festival circuit before becoming a finalist in the Fs Film Festival. Effie is a prolific artist who had great success previously with festival favourite My Stuffed Granny.

Emilie

Bystander by Rachel Aoun (2022) (Lebanon) (12m)

The Festival finalist is perhaps the best exploration of masculinity ever depicted in a short film (and written by a woman). This short drama follows the basketball coach and new father, Roger, who witnesses a vicious (and ultimately fatal) assault on his way to work but fails to intervene. He is left questioning his manhood and his feelings of emasculation are finally expressed in a wonderful scene where he berates himself through his students.

Bystander


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