One of the best animated shorts of the decade is now available online. Simbiosis Carnal is a 10-minute animated short made by Spanish animation filmmaker Rocio Alvarez. This premiered at festivals back in 2017, and won tons of awards throughout its run in 2018, and now it's out to watch. "During this animated evocation of the history of desire, the emphasis will be on feminine pleasure, which was for a long time ignored, repressed, and then progressively revealed and liberated. Simbiosis Carnal is a call to the strength of life and to the uninhibited happiness of sexuality in the human being." Featuring original music by the band Why The Eye. It begins as a biological exploration of sexuality and reproduction, then evolves into a study of intimacy and pleasure with humans. It's a remarkably profound illustration of all the good and bad regarding sexuality, and all the controversy and confusion about sex, and all the restrictions modern society has put on (mostly women's) sexuality. Just watch out - this short is NSFW. But it is a must watch anyway.
"You know I love you, right?" Filmmaker and poet Terrance Daye from Long Island, NY put together this short film project called -Ship: A Visual Poem, which won the Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Terrance reveals the origins of his art: "Nearly all of my work is inspired by my experiences growing up queer in a conservative Christian household and the depression that I felt because of it. My work tends to reimagine traditional representations of black male identity while de-stigmatizing mental health within the black community. -Ship: A Visual Poem began as an experiment." He wanted to try fitting bigger themes into a small package - and the result is this 13 minute short. A young black boy learns contradicting lessons of manhood and masculinity on the day of his cousin's funeral. The film stars Antonio J. Watson as Jeremiah, Cheikh M’Baye, Jaime Lincoln Smith, Simbi Kali, Abebaw Edward Silver, Armand Rufen-Blanchette, Stephen Cofield Jr., and Karynrose Bruyning. Very subtle, nuanced storytelling.
"You don’t know my name, do you?" No way out of that one. Sickboy is an impressive short film made by NYC-based filmmaker Julian Muller, who has been making shorts for years while working on productions in the city. "Even though he could've had everything, a man lives his life searching the streets of New York for anything." Antonio Magro stars as Jeff, a homeless man wandering the streets. Every day that passes in New York City, Jeff finds a way to get through it. The short also stars Sarah Wisser and Rachel Hale. This has the look and feel of a Safdie Brothers film, which Julian admits was a major inspiration. He wanted to share "a more personal, intimate journey of what that life might look like that wasn't judgmental in its portrayal." Part of what makes this so great is the way it handles a tricky person, someone who is just trying to survive and make it through each day. As one commenter on Vimeo wrote: "Both subtle and magnificent."
How far are we from this kind of future? Much closer than you might think… Change Return is a funky animated short film made by filmmaker Robert Findlay and it's only 5 mins long. Set in an underground city in the near future, where services such as healthcare and law enforcement are delegated to local vending machines, a man finds a crafty way to buy a cheap meal. That's all you need to know going in - the best part of this is watching how it all plays out. It's impressive that this was made entirely independently by one guy. As always, just goes to show animated shorts are always some of the most creative and innovative. This is so good I didn't want it to end, I'd watch an entire film set in this world. Reminds me of Buy n Large in Wall-E.
Dance to stay alive. Dance to be alive. BBC has debuted a trailer for the new short film made by acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Glazer, who made it with dancers around the world while everyone was in lockdown at home. Glazer also made the short The Fall last year. His new short is titled Strasbourg 1518 which is a reference to the "dancing plague of 1518", described as "a case of dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg, Alsace (now modern-day France), in the Holy Roman Empire in July 1518. Somewhere between 50 and 400 people took to dancing for days." The short features dancers from Sadler's Wells performing scary dance routines at their home, which Glazer put together for this short. It's premiering on BBC Two next week, but only in the UK unfortunately. Glazer also re-teams with composer Mica Levi for yet another chilling score.
"Just act how you'd actually act." This is the kind of dark comedy short film we need more of! Waffle is a clever 10-minute short film directed by filmmaker Carlyn Hudson. This was supposed to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year before it was cancelled due to the pandemic. The short is now available to watch in full online, and it's worth it. Grab some popcorn and friends and enjoy… Kerry is at a sleepover with the socially awkward, mysteriously orphaned heiress Katie. Friendship--in a society that grows ever isolating--is explored as Kerry learns the hard way that Katie always gets what she wants. Starring Kerry Barker and Katie Marovitch, with Raphael Chestang. I really appreciate how the short holds back on revealing anything until the right moment, and as it plays out you'll start to get more and more worried for Kerry. People are crazy! So frickin' crazy! Especially wealthy people! This is another outstanding short film that should launch careers; director Carlyn Hudson knows how to tell a great story and make it entertaining.
"Light my way in darkness, so I may spread your seed." There have been a handful of films that play with how an alien being would act if it inhabited a human body. What would it make of our strange fleshy bodies? Would it know how to interact? Would it know how to speak? Dominant Species is a short film that also wonders about these questions. Directed by Joseph Sackett, it's described as a "coming-of-age story about coming to terms with the ways you're different." The plot is about 10 aliens in human host bodies learning how to be "men". Short of the Week explains "most of the film is an examination of these new hosts' process of familiarization with the peculiarities of humanity and education in masculine stereotypes." Starring as the 10: Francisco Carrillo, Justin Chiao, Julian Cihi, Marchánt Davis, Vasile Flutur, Zach Fifer, Julio Lousav, Matthew Faroul, Julian Elijah Martinez, and Will Seefried. Strange but compelling.
Empathy always makes a difference. This superb stop-motion animated short film Tokri, aka The Basket, comes from an animation studio in India. The film is about a young girl who decides to make baskets and sell them on the street in Mumbai in hopes of making money so she can repair her father's broken pocket watch. Featuring a music selection of Bollywood songs. Animation filmmaker Suresh Eriyat was inspired after he had an encounter with a basket seller and shooed her away, only to think later about how he doesn't know what her life is or why she needs a bit of money for peace at home. Hand-made stop-motion animation is always nice to see. "Suresh wished to revive the popularity of clay animation through this film. Although clay animation is known to be a painstaking process… it's an art that gives life to inanimate objects, bringing with it an energy on screen that shines through, one frame at a time." A lovely father-daughter story that challenges us to think about other people's lives in a way we might not think of at first. View the film below.
Get ready for a mind-bending 6-minute journey. A Mind Sang is Vimeo's "Staff Pick Award" winner from this year's Annecy Film Festival for animation. Made by Portuguese filmmaker Vier Nev, the entrancing animated film is about perception, rebirth and transformation. That's really the only good way to describe it, because it's an immersive and deeply engaging film where various images blend and transform. "Animating every sequence took a couple of months because I was animating by myself in between other projects. The animation process was a mix of 2D digital animation and 3D animated references," Vier explains to Vimeo. It's so hypnotizing to watch this, trying to figure out if you can see all the various images and shapes packed into each frame and each transition. I also like the simple colors. "Initially, the film was going to be entirely black and white but I found that there was no good reason not to use color to bring more life into the film."
This short film originally premiered in 2018, and won the Best Short Film award at the Annecy Film Festival that year. After two years it's finally online and I am more than happy to share it! One of the best and most creative animated shorts I've ever seen. Bloeistraat 11 (which translates to Bloomstreet 11 in English) is made by Dutch filmmaker Nienke Deutz based in Rotterdam. The film is about best friends spending their last summer holiday of childhood amusing themselves around the house. As summer progresses their bodies start to morph and shift and an awkwardness descends on their friendship. Puberty seems determined to interrupt their bond. I absolutely love the visual style of this - using transparent sheeting to animate the characters interacting with a stop-motion-esque tiny set. A one-of-a-kind film - the story and the technique.
"You can have your story. You can tell your own story however you want." Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a short documentary film titled The Claudia Kishi Club, premiering on Netflix this week. This 17-min film is about the fictional Claudia Kishi, a main character in the best-selling "Baby-Sitters Club" books, who was one of the only Asian American characters in 80s/90s culture. "As a blossoming artist, [she] was a special role model for aspiring young creators—many of whom are now making groundbreaking work of their own." This short features a charismatic cast of Asian American artists and writers including Yumi Sakugawa, Sarah Kuhn, and Phil Yu. The film includes "nostalgic readings, personal recollections, and DIY-style stop motion collages, [making it] a timely and unique exploration of the importance of representation in media." A film about the power of being seen and of being represented as a person in pop culture stories.
"I'm determined to get change." After her son, Dontre Hamilton, is shot 14 times and killed by a Milwaukee Police Officer in a popular downtown park, Maria rallies grieving mothers from across the country to join her in a cross country trip to demand justice on behalf of their sons. Mothers For Justice is a short film about Maria Hamilton and the founding of the Mother for Justice United organization. It's a condensed 15-minute short version of filmmaker Erik Ljung's full documentary The Blood is at the Doorstep. "Maria's dream is to unite with other mothers who have lost children to state and vigilante violence, to make their voices heard in the halls of government, to demand justice for their murdered children, and to put an end to the race-based policies of police and vigilante violence in minority communities." It's moving and inspiring.