SHORT FILMS

Watch: Experimental Artificial Intelligence-Animated Short 'Forever'

Forever Short Film

"I see A.I. as not really an opinion, it seems like truth." After playing at film festivals all year long, this one-of-a-kind mesmerizing, entrancing short film is now available to watch online. Forever is a short created by filmmaker Mitch McGlocklin, and it's made by an artificial intelligence system. The story follows a guy who has a life-changing experience. "A life insurance company uses an AI algorithm to determine the risk of a new applicant. The subsequent denial sparks a period of introspection for the individual in question." It's a deeply contemplative film in many ways, and doesn't look like your typical short film. Forever was created with the experimental technique of using LiDAR to capture real life moments and environments. The LiDAR unit used to acquire the footage was originally created for self-driving cars. This junction of technology and filmmaking intersects with the subject of the film. There's much more going on in this aside from the visuals, as the things he calmly says will get into your head, too. Much to think about as we head into 2022.

Watch: 'The Battle of San Romano' Painting Animated as a Short Film

The Battle of San Romano Short

Experience this epic battle like never before! Swiss animation filmmaker Georges Schwizgebel originally premiered this animation project back in 2017, but it's finally online to watch thanks to Vimeo. The Battle of San Romano is a short film taking a classic painting, the famous 15th century triptych "The Battle of San Romano" by Italian Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello, and animating it using a unique paint-on-glass technique. It's all done by hand. "The movement begins at the top left-hand corner of the painting and ends in the same piece, which allows me to restart the spiral. At the beginning, I'm looking for how square 1 will turn into square 2, into a total of 36 different segments." Schwizgebel has made 20 other films before this with the same technique, and has picked up many awards over the years. It reminds me of these stunning hand-painted films Loving Vincent & The Peasants. It also gives this painting a whole new life. View below.

Watch: A Killer Animatronic Santa in Christmas Horror Short 'Jolly'

Jolly Short Film

"Ho ho ho! I'm going to unwrap your skull." Have a holly, jolly Christmas! It's the best time of the year… As long as Santa isn't killing you, then there will be plenty of cheer. How about a fun Christmas horror short to warm up these holiday days? Jolly is a new short film by from Todd Spence & Zak White. The two have been cooking up under-5-minute, low budget horror shorts for the last few years - including Where Is It and this year's Fear Wish. Jolly, about an animatronic Santa head, also stars Todd Spence with Zak White as the voice of Santa. These guys are damn good at putting together homemade shorts that are slyly entertaining and extremely creepy without much happening, which isn't as easy at it seems. Just don't make Santa angry.

Official Trailer for Disney Animation's 'Far From the Tree' Short Film

Far From the Tree Trailer

Disney Animation has unveiled a trailer for the short film Far From the Tree, which will be available for streaming on Disney+ later this week. You might've already seen this short if you went to see Encanto in the cinema, as it played in front of showings of that Disney Animation movie when it opened last month. In Far From the Tree, curiosity gets the better of a young raccoon whose frustrated parent attempts to keep them both safe. They will learn that while there is reason to be fearful, as danger lurks around every corner, it is still possible to live with an open heart. There's no voice cast, as this one doesn't have any voices anyway, just a couple of cute raccoons that go on an adventure around the Pacific Northwest. It's made by Natalie Nourigat, who also made Exchange Student in Disney's "Short Circuit" series. Meet the two raccoons below.

Watch: Experimental Short 'Beast' Set on Christmas Eve in Montreal

Beast Short Film

"Christmas is tiring… Just a bunch of kids yelling and running, anyway." How would you react if suddenly you lost control of your body and it started moving on its own? This freaky, fascinating experimental short Beast is made by a Montreal based filmmaker named Benjamin Nicolas. It's only 11 minutes and is shot in B&W. It's Christmas Eve, Martin drives customers in his VTC, suddenly, without warning, his body begins to make uncontrolled movements. Starring James Viveiros, a contemporary dance artist, in the lead role with an unforgettable performance. This isn't the most straightforward short, there's plenty of crazy things going on and after a quiet first half it gets real crazy leading up to the finale. It reminds me of the early work from that other Montreal director you might know - Denis Villeneuve (check out Next Floor). Watch below.

Watch: Luca Guadagnino's Holiday Short with John C. Reilly as Santa

Luca Guadagnino's O Night Divine

"Do you think you could move my room as far from the festivities as possible?" O Santa! Why are thou so bearded and jolly? O Night Divine is a 43-minute long (!!) promotional holiday short film made by the clothing company Zara. I'm not sure if they knew what they were getting into when they hired filmmaker Luca Guadagnino to make this, but in the end we all get to enjoy this lovely holiday advertising film. The short is set in St. Moritz, Switzerland (of course it is) and takes place on Christmas Eve, following a man named Hugo who is a busker. His crush is a woman who arrives at the hotel for her shift and walks right by him. There are other hotel workers featured in this, telling the story of their "outrageous adventures and joyous celebration" on this snowy Christmas Eve. John C. Reilly stars as Santa, with a cast including Alex Wolff, Hailey Gates, Samia Benazzouz, Chloe Park, Valerio Santucci, Francesca Figus, Tania Hanyoung Park, Shi Yang Shi. This is cute and charming, but way too long overall. Still worth a watch.

Watch: Award-Winning Dutch Animated Short Film 'Life is Beautiful'

Life is Beautiful Short Film

"Anton may be done with life, but life ain’t done with Anton." This animated short film originally premiered in 2013 and we're just now catching up with it thanks to a reminder from our friends at Short of the Week. Life is Beautiful is made by an Amsterdam-based filmmaker named Ben Brand, who has won awards for his many short films over the years (you'll recognize gifs from this one). This one is about an aging man who makes a decision to change his measly existence, and in doing so "discovers the real greatness of life." It's kind of about reincarnation, but I won't say anything else. It played at numerous festivals in 2013 & 2014 and picked up a few awards, and is online now. As odd as this seems, it's a bit like Pixar's Soul meets Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void. Despite the heavy story, Brand says it's "supposed to be a funny, tragicomic film… you can compare it to the characters in the films of the Coen Brothers." It's only 8 minutes - watch in full below.

Watch: Felt Stop-Motion Short Film 'The Visit' Made by Morrie Tan

The Visit Short Film

"Every time I'm here, I constantly think of what I would say to you or tell you…" Another excellent stop-motion animated short film to watch. The Visit is an emotional short made by a Singaporean filmmaker named Morrie Tan, telling the story of her own visits to a prison to meet her father. Month after month, Ting makes a solo trip to visit her father in prison, talking only through a glass panel in his windowless cell. She is determined to not let anything separate him from her and the realities of the world despite having to shoulder her emotional burdens alone. Featuring the voices of Judee Tan and Huang Jia Qiang. It's only 8 minutes and is another fine example of how animation can be used to tell any kind of story. The filmmaker explains that the film is "a story of longing and reconciliation for a family, and a love letter from a daughter to her father." This is a rather somber film overall, but the honesty makes it all the worthwhile. View below.

Watch: A Handshake Turns into a Monster in 'Hand in Hand' Short

Hand in Hand Short Film

A handshake. A simple, peaceful gesture. We all know how to do it (I hope?). But can a handshake turn into something evil? Maybe it can. Hand in Hand is a hilarious 3-minute comedy short from Swiss filmmaker Ennio Ruschetti. There's an impressive amount of storytelling in this in less than 200 seconds of footage. Amazing work. Only a formal handshake separates these two politicians from a sealed contract. When each one tries to outdo the other, something wicked this way comes. Via Vimeo: "What happens next represents the underlying complexities behind such a simple gesture, relating to ego, human error, and silly red tape. Hand in Hand is a smart commentary on governments around the world that will make you laugh at its absurdity and cringe at the fact that this grotesque body horror comedy isn't too far off from reality." This reminds me of Blomkamp's viral videos making fun of politicians. Nothing more to add - just watch & laugh.

New Trailer for Stop-Motion Horror Short 'The Bones' or 'Los Huesos'

The Bones Trailer

Discover the origins of stop-motion animation! Mubi has unveiled a new trailer for the peculiar stop-motion animated short film from Chile titled Los Huesos, or The Bones. We wrote about this once before, when the teaser trailer debuted just before the film's premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival. Mubi will now be launching The Bones, which runs 14 minutes in total, streaming online this December. Ari Aster executive produced the Chilean short The Bones, a playfully eerie, fictitious account of the first stop-motion animated film. "Shot on a 16mm Bolex, the short is a fictitious account of the world's first stop-motion animated film. Dated 1901 and [then] excavated in 2021 as Chile drafts a new Constitution, the footage documents a ritual performed by a girl who appears to use human corpses. Emerging in the ritual are Diego Portales and Jaime Guzmán, central figures in the construction of authoritarian and oligarchic Chile." It features music by Tim Fain, a Philip Glass collaborator and exquisite violinist. This looks super creepy! Yet also quite fascinating.

Watch: Surreal Walrus Romance Stop-Motion Short 'Listen to Me Sing'

Listen to Me Sing Trailer

"They are the egg men. I am the walrus." This is something you don't see everyday. Listen to Me Sing is a fascinating stop-motion animated short film made by a Welsh animation filmmaker named Isabel Garrett. After playing on the festival circuit and picking up a few awards, it's now online to watch. "Set in an isolated, rundown hotel, the story follows entertainer Sophie as she struggles to find her place in a confusing world. That is until a walrus mysteriously appears in her bathtub one night and she forms an unexpected bond with it." This is easily one of the strangest, wackiest short films we've featured all year. Not only is there a pink walrus in it, but the entire story and the way it plays out is especially kooky. This reminds me of The Shape of Water in many ways, but it also ventures down its own path in many other ways. Meet the walrus below.

Watch: Terrifying Horror Short 'Stay Pretty, No Pity' with Maria Ozawa

Stay Pretty, No Pity Short Film

"Pretty, pretty, pretty…" Who's up for something creepy? Stay Pretty, No Pity is a horror short made by filmmaker Wilco C. Rullens, starring Maria Ozawa as a young woman haunted by a strange Japanese ghost. The 11-minute short is a proof of concept for a full feature, if enough people are excited about it. "If a ghost shows herself to you in the mirror and asks: 'Do you want to stay pretty?' What would your answer be?" The short is based on the Japanese folklore of Oiwa Yotsuya (Yotsuya Kaidan). A true story from the Edo period, it told of a samurai that had his beautiful wife killed because she became deformed, only to be haunted by her vision until he went insane and killed himself. Now hundreds of years later, Yotsuya is back! Out to punish more ugly characters by recruiting the pretty. Scary. And also a cautionary tale about beauty, but strangely this short doesn't seem to deal with that at all. Does she learn any lessons? Not really… This plays a bit like Ringu meets any other urban legend involving a mirror, featuring one freaky Japanese ghost.

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