I just finished watching (for like the 14th time) a short film I love quite a bit , Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow (can’t recommend it enough), and it got me in the mood to watch some more. The thing is, I just don’t really know where to start. I don’t get a lot of exposure to them except for when the Oscars roll around or the occasional film critic gets retweeted by someone I follow.
The more I think about it, the more they seem like perfect viewing for the particularly busy part of my life I’m in right now where I don’t always have 2+ hours to dedicate to a full length film. I’d love to hear everyone’s favorites, even if it’s something that’s a little longer that you’re dying to tell people about!
It’s a bit classic and experimental, but Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon is one of the few short films that has really stuck with me over the years. The ideas it had in terms of both cinematic technique and visual symbolism are so ahead of their time. David Lynch has cited her works as a major inspiration.
For something completely different, Celles et Ceux des Cimes et Cieux is a short animation with inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki, Jean Giraud, and Syd Mead. As I understand it, this was a project done by a French college student, and it functions as a trailer for a hypothetical film that doesn’t exist. I often think about this and wonder what the full film would be like.
I’ll second Meshes of the Afternoon. A fantastic short.
Night and Fog clocks in at about half an hour and, in my opinion, is the best documentary film I’ve made. It’s about Resnais’ attempt to make a documentary about the holocaust. It’s released by Criterion and you can watch it on Filmstruck.
In the early days of Disney, they produced a series of shorts set to music called Silly Symphonies. There are so many of these that are absolute gold and I’d argue some of the best stuff Disney ever made. I’d say choice shorts are The Old Mill, The Tortoise and the Hare (1935), and The Ugly Duckling (1939).
Outer Space is one of the most aggressive and didactic things you’ll ever watch and I absolutely love it. At 10 minutes, it’s worth a watch.
The Gobelins student film Trois Petit Points has a combination of visual aesthetics I haven’t seen anyone else use. It’s not exactly a subtle short, but each time the central visual metaphor reveals itself I find myself very invested.
My father was a huge fan of rally, and cars in general, so he kept a huge collection of VHS films about cars. There were two i would constantly rewatch, C’était un rendez-vouz and Climb Dance. The latter in particular has been something i rewatch with frequency, and i still cannot get over my affection for the low quality, gravel-like engine sounds that is so characteristic of old movies.
I’m actually in the process of putting together a short film. I’ve wanted to make films for as long as I can remember. This year I decided that in order to make something, I would have to set myself realistic goals. I attended some film classes after work, which put me into contact with a group of people who also wanted to make something. We pitched several ideas, and most people voted for my idea. I’ve got a final version of the script (after three drafts), have most of the actors cast and am going to be shooting it on location this weekend (so long as the weather is good).
As for short film recommendations:
The Smiling Man
I’m into my short horrors. This one creeped me out sufficiently.
The film maker who ran my film course made this one called Dolls. It’s just ran the festival circuit and was released online:
Made by Christopher Nolan. Gotta start somewhere.
Love and Other Chairs.
Because too many of my recommendations have been horrors.
Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life.
Peter Capaldi directed this and won an Oscar for his trouble.
I can heartily recommend Mr Biffo’s Found Footage, a series of shorts by Paul Rose, creator of teletext games magazine Digitiser. They alternate between comedic and disturbing and are often not work-safe but are nevertheless utterly brilliant. Episodes 1 - 7 share a faint narrative arc, concluding tonight with a sci-fi short, The Trojan Arse Protocol.