"Suddenly I felt powerful." Need a good laugh? This short film might do the trick. The Katy Universe is a comedic short film about a wedding guest who suddenly discovers she has superpowers - after she's had one too many drinks. She calls up her ex-boyfriend and goes off on an epic rant, honing her newfound powers as she unleashes existential hell over the phone. Comedian / actress Mary Holland stars as Katy, giving an intense and seriously convincing performance as the superpowered wedding guest. This is a very well-made and thoroughly entertaining short that treads similar ground but does so in a humorous way. This is written & directed by Patrick Muhlberger, who puts a positive spin on this drunken evening with clever writing.
"Managing your attention effectively is key. The aim is to achieve a laser focus…" Now this is something different. Merger is a 360-degree sci-fi short film (meaning you can interact / move the camera as it plays) made by by London-based designer and architect Keiichi Matsuda, who was also behind the trippy short film Hyper-Reality. "Set against the backdrop of AI-run corporations, a tele-operator finds herself caught between virtual and physical reality, human and machine. As she fights for her economic survival, she finds herself immersed in the cult of productivity, in search of the ultimate interface. This short film documents her last 4 minutes on earth." Starring Sarah Winter. I wanted to feature this short because it's so unique and cool and thought-provoking, not only technically but narratively about what our future might look like.
"Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer…" Nothing like a mashup of Star Wars and Shakespeare. Most stories are already inspired by Shakespeare, but this is an attempt to bring Shakespeare's dialogue right into the iconic Star Wars universe. Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy is a short film directed by Maxime-Claude L'Écuyer from Montreal. The short features Hamlet's famous soliloquy presented as the inner voice of a Stormtrooper, emphasizing how relevant this dialogue still is (and will always be). The film stars David Blouin in the armor (as TD-73028), plus Anton Golikov as his voice. As simple as this may seem, there's some elegance in the presentation - thanks to the cinematography and score, and the emotional recitation.
"It's just a story. It's just a story…" Another chilling horror short film to give you a thrill if you need it. The Candlelight Witch is a new horror short from the filmmakers behind other horror shorts including Your Date is Here and Where Is It and Mikus. Directed by filmmaker Becca Flinn-White, this short is about three siblings who tell a scary story one night that ends up becoming a bit too real. Which is truly one of the worst nightmares when you're a kid. This is suggested for those who love the Are You Afraid of the Dark? series, inspired by that kind of harmless storytelling. Starring Brooke Sorenson, Presley Richardson, Connor Kalopsis, and Emily Burkart. I like these shorts because they're so simple yet still so effective.
"You pick your facades, yet?" This isn't so much science fiction, more science reality, because we're closer than ever to this technology actually existing. But it's still fun to see them play with this technology concept in a short film anyway. Face Swap is a fun short film made by filmmakers David Gidali & Einat Tubi, inspired by (and utilizing) the "deepfakes" AI technology from the internet. It's the same tech that Jordan Peele use to create his infamous Obama speech. A couple decides to try out the Face Swap service, choosing Rachel McAdams and George Clooney as their temporary "fantasy" personas. The short (actually) stars Troy Caylak, Megan Gray, and Noelle Urbano. This is another cautionary tale, of course, but it's also a mesmerizing and clever look at where technology is taking us - and some of the worrisome implications of it.
"I can only see forward when the cart is full." Think about all the random waste and leftover filler product drifting around out there. What happens to all of it? Styrofoam is a short film by a photographer named Noah Sheldon, based in Shanghai, who made this as part of a video series on work in modern China. The doc is about a woman named Wo Guo Jie, who is a styrofoam collector. She roams the streets scavenging and hunting for leftover styrofoam - boxes and other various shapes. She collects this and piles it very high on her motorcycle, reselling them to a seafood wholesale market. "Working under the cover of night to limit police attention, she's still a highly conspicuous sight on the city streets, biking with as many boxes stacked around her as possible so that she has to make only one trip a day." It's a beautifully-shot film, allowing us to follow her daily routine closely as she travels around the city hoping to stock up. Definitely worth a watch.
"The truth of the matter is: [the Coen Brothers are] the most pleasant, collaborative, incredibly creative guys I've ever worked with. There's nothing I would say no to…" Hollywood studios usually release pre-packaged, publicity-designed behind-the-scenes featurettes for every movie. The sound bites, the clips, the interviews, the footage is all carefully designed to help with promotion. But this behind-the-scenes video is a raw, real, unfiltered look at what it's like to be on set making a feature film. Josh Brolin made this short documentary while filming No Country for Old Men, written and directed by the Coen Brothers, back in 2007. This "unauthorized" doc is already on the Blu-ray release of the film, but just found its way online (via The Film Stage) and it's worth a watch. Because there's nothing else like it and it's a fun blast from the past.
"Memories fade as time goes by." Let's kick off the year with an outstanding short film from Malaysia. The Last 7 is a short film made by the filmmaking collective Grim Film, and written and directed by filmmaker Jared Lee. It's set in a different universe (that still looks like ours) where Grim Reapers are average office workers holding down jobs at various soul-collecting organisations to earn their keep in the afterlife. We follow the story of a Reaper named Michael, haunted by dreams he cannot understand, trying to make sense of his new life. Nick Davis stars, with a cast including Ben Chan, Papi Zak, Jan Chin, Marianne Tan, and Chin Wen Xuan. This isn't a horror but rather an intimate drama, with some impressive writing that makes this stand out much more than most short films. There is also a fun mid-credits scene to watch, too.
"Be cool, demon! Demon, be cool!" This is why you don't mess with black magic! One more creative, well-made, funny short film to end this year. We Summoned a Demon, from writer/director Chris McInroy, has played at over 120 film festivals since 2017 (including at Fantasia, FrightFest, HollyShorts) and is now available online. The short is about a couple of dudes who accidentally summon a demon, and don't want to admit their mistake. Starring Kirk Johnson, Carlos Larotta, and John Orr. This short is also the third and final in a sort-of linked trilogy of gory horror comedy shorts from McInroy, and it might just be the best.
"Looks like someone's staying on the naughty list… Larry, light him up!!" What the craziness is this?! 20th Century Fox has released an extra-violent, stop-motion animated short film titled The Predator Holiday Special. And it's actually all kinds of awesome. The funny short is just a new mash-up of Predator and the classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" animated TV movie, telling a story about a Predator invading the North Pole - but Santa has an elite defense force of his own that jumps into action and fights back. This is all to promote the DVD/Blu-ray release of Shane Black's new The Predator, which opened this year (did you forget already?). I'm quite impressed - the production quality on this short is pretty damn good, and it's as violent & brutal as it should be (for a Predator riff). Worth a quick watch if you need a laugh these holidays.
We're almost finished with 2018, but there's a few more good short films to feature. Hors De L'Eau, which translates to Out of Water in French, is one of the final graduation projects for 2018 made by filmmakers at the animation school Gobelins in Paris, France. This animated short is a parable about exclusion, telling a story about a macaque mother who encounters hostility from a group of snow monkeys due to strict rules which govern their community. The POV perspective is really striking, and allows us to empathize so much more with her sad, harrowing story. This film does have a strong message that it's trying to convey, but it's also an impressive work of art - all the monkeys and the animation are exquisite. This is really worth your time to watch - it's only 7 minutes in total. There's no dialogue but the score is fantastic as well. View below.
What mysteries are waiting for us in the universe? What will we find that defies explanation or definition? Ostiary is a sci-fi short film made by Toronto-based animator Danish Ghaffar, of Ghaffar Studios. The short is about a space traveler stranded on a planet by himself, running low on food, who ventures out into the planet's mysterious environment in search of nutrition. He discovers something unlike anything he has seen before. Described perfectly by io9: "soundtracked by lovely ambient music and drenched in purples and blacks, it's a fascinating, beautiful little film." Reminds me a bit of Annihilation, you'll see when you watch.