European shorts are often more cerebral than American equivalent. Here are some of the best from the land mass that gave us Godard & Bergman.

Cigarettes & Coffee

Cigarettes and Coffee by Cristi Puiu (2004) (Romania) (13m)

Cigarettes and Coffee (Un Cartus de Kent si un Pachet de Cafea) is one of those rare films that is somehow cinematic despite its pedestrian setting and drama. A winner at the Berlinale, it is very much about its time and place, with a greedy, upwardly mobile son meeting with his elderly father, who is used to Communism but now needs a job. Christi Puiu has since made two features, including the critically acclaimed comedy The Death of Mr Lazarescu.

Ark by Grzegorz Jonkajtys (2007) (Poland) (8m) *

Polish filmmaker Grzegorz Jonkajtys was nominated for the Palme d'Or in 2007 (animations and live-action films compete for the same Golden Palme at Cannes) with this superbly finished computer animation. Ark (Arka) shows us a post-apocalyptic world in which one man is leading the survivors to salvation before the cruel twist is revealed (along with possibly the sexiest nurse in short film history).


Black Rider

Black Rider by Pepe Danquart (1993) (Germany) (10m)

Black Rider (Schwarzfahrer) is a short drama film (with a large dose of black comedy) written and directed by German filmmaker Pepe Danquart and proving that some Germans do indeed have a sense of humor. Filmed in black & white, there is a definite European feel to it but this didn't stop it winning the Oscar for Best Short Film in 1994. It is a simple story of bigotry and comical revenge.

Sniffer by Bobbie Peers (2006) (Norway) (10m) *

Sniffer was written and directed by Bobbie Peers, a Norwegian filmmaker with a string of short films under his belt. None have proved as successful as Sniffer, which won Palme d'Or for the best short film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. It is an unusual but beautifully shot tale, set in its own grey and apparently gravity-free world, about a man who works as a sniffer (watch it to find out!) and dreams off escaping the leaden boots that hold him down.


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