A lot of people, myself included until very recently, don’t really watch many short films and that’s a shame. Shorts are a place of innovation, and eager new talent, alongside stalwarts who’ve made shorts their bread and butter of artistic expression.
Perhaps the best thing about shorts is that they’re, well, they’re short. That means you’re free to roam, to try something different, to experience intense bursts of passion, laughter and tears without the same level of commitment as a long term film. So if you want to reduce the stress of choosing ONE film for the evening, that better be good because its three hours of your life you won’t get back and you know that one more bad film you were responsible for choosing could get your Netflix flicking privileges revoked, try an evening of shorts. Be fickle, be adventurous and open minded knowing that even a terrible short is only terrible for ten minutes. Plus, bonus round, you don’t have to be that guy pausing in the middle of a film, gaining the hatred of your loved ones, when you need the toilet or a cuppa. There’s casual stoppages in play to get what you need to get done, done.
If you don’t know where to start with shorts, then let me curate your first foray.And with a running time of just under an hour its five films for the price of one. I’ve tried to choose a little bit of everything, a real pick ‘n’ mix, the only things they all have in common is they’re all short and they’re all worth watching…
Johnny Express (2014)
Running Time: 5 mins
Johnny Express is the perfect example of just how entertaining animated shorts can be. Presenting a run-of-the-mill lazy day in the life of an intergalactic deliveryman and the most momentous day in the live’s of his the tiny recipients, is a licence to print comedy. One of the biggest players in the short film market is Pixar, who have produced some brilliantly funny and incredibly touching works (my favourite being Presto). Johnny Express is not a Pixar film but an independent film, directed by Kyungmin Woo, packed with everything that makes Pixar films so successful and enjoyable. It oozes style, the soundtrack is perfection, the attention to detail is mesmerising and endearing, the characters fly out of the screen,the plot is well paced and engaging, and the comic timing of each gag is expert.
Running Time: 14 mins
Soft is proof that short short films can still pack a lot of punch. Telling the story of a man, and his son, terrorised by juvenile assailants Soft is a gristly piece of raw meat. From camera phone footage to small town filming locations it encapsulates the feeling of many Short films; low budget, grass roots, slice of life film making. With all of the effects and sequences of high budget films stripped away, Soft goes back to basics with brilliant believable performances, subtle and complex character relationships and compelling storytelling. Painful to watch at times, Soft is anything but and hammers home its central concerns, leaving behind a harrowing, confused and uncomfortable taste in the mouth.
Death of The Revolution (2006)
A lighthearted and amusing short, that explores political revolution as in-sighted in the mind of a child on the end of the cruel injustice of school. Death of the Revolution is one in a long line of creative and original shorts from the British duo, the Blaine Brothers. Combining a keen wit with an inspired script and beautiful shot selection, this short takes us on a whimsical flight of fantasy. For anyone who spent time in an English school, this work has a wonderful familiarity.
Death of the Revolution is available to watch here along with a number of the Blaine Brothers’ other shorts. My recommendations would include Hallo Panda, which is hilarious at points, if a little inconsistent.
The Old Lady and the Pigeons (1998)
Running Time: 22 mins
This offering, a classic from Sylvian Chomet, is well-loved and made with love. It certainly takes the number one spot for strangest short on this list. The art style is captivating and the soundtrack guides you like a charmed snake into its bizarre world of cooking, intrigue and pigeons. Brimful with oddball characters and beautifully hand-drawn moments of sentiment The Old Lady and the Pigeons is a trip into a wonderfully absurd French world. It is a very distinctive film and as such may be an acquired taste, but for some it may just be their new favourite sweet and as such is well worth adding to your evening of Pick ‘N’ Mixing.
Forklift Driver Klaus
Running Time: 9 mins
This German short film is a laugh out loud send-up of 80s work safety videos. It is consistent and clever in its parody and plays excitingly with its format. Although it takes a while to get going, Forklift Driver Klaus builds up to a frenetic pace, taking its comedy to its logical conclusion and then flies past your expectations like a forklift at full-speed. The darkness and immaturity of its comedy is refreshing making it a great way to end your evening.
This list is only begins to showcase some of the incredible worlds and stories being made in short films across the world. If you’re looking for somewhere to continue your journey, Cinema 16 collections are brilliant anthologies of some of the best received short films from America, Britain, Europe and the world.
If you have any suggestions for great shorts, please let us know by commenting below. And if you want to receive more film recommendations and review from W-a-W please subscribe.