The life of short films tend to be as long as they are: they flash into existence, and then disappear in the daily stream of the new information, events, and videos. Some get into the limelight when they become viral or are lucky enough to be among the Academy or other award nominees, while others fade even though they deserve attention too, some of the masterpieces of animation, storytelling or evoking emotions.
I’m not on top of every new release, I don’t follow every news, and I’m more likely to stumble upon interesting titles on random websites, forums, or via friends’ recommendations, so I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of interesting projects. Others I’ve forgotten or they simply didn’t strike the right chord to make it to the list below.
But I dare to call the 5 short films I mention here as my favorite ones. I come back to them every once a while, and they not only show the best what this form has to offer, but also spark my writer’s imagination and inspire me to create new stories.
For some reason, I didn’t have this movie bookmarked (it’s now fixed!), and every time I remembered about it, I had to look it up again. It’s not that easy, as I remember the movie as “Scales” from the name of the little dragon in it, and the actual title never seems to stick in my mind. I believe it’s the main character’s name, but it’s never mentioned in the movie. “Sintel” is a moving story of a friendship between a girl living in the streets and a baby dragon, beautifully told and heart-gripping. Its ending, though, can press tears out of your eyes with just a hint of hope in the last seconds to not make Sintel overwhelmingly sad. But I want spoil it, just go ahead and watch it if you haven’t already.
This movie actually got a lot of attention, including a re-make into a full-length movie (with some stars lending their voices to the characters), but I wonder how many of you remembers its short version now. 9 tells a story of a destroyed world where a lonely rag doll prepares to face a monster who killed his friend. The design is innovative, and the story leaves a lot for the imagination. The full feature went in a slightly different direction, but both are worth the time. Whenever I watch it, I get some ideas for stories or characters.
I couldn’t find a good quality video on Youtube, but I’m sure this short is available as a part of dvd of the full-length movie.
A short film made to show the capabilities of an engine game developers were working with, but instead of just showing off the new motion capture technology, they also provide a though-provoking story of a self-conscious android on the assembly line. The movie starts slow, and it lulls the viewer into a false comfort, and then within minutes unwinds into a dramatic sentence that made me hold my breath for a moment. The ending definitely brings questions about consciousness, artificial intelligence and humanity, which makes it not only a good short film, but also a good science-fiction.
Rosa takes us to a destroyed world (is it Earth or maybe just some colonized planet?), and both the visuals give it a bit of cyberpunk-ish and Oriental feel, but there’s little story told, and the ending sparks more questions than answers, but there’s definitely inspiration to be found in there. I have mixed feelings about Rosa, because its message escapes me, and I wonder whether there’s more story behind the scenes I watched to provide some explanations and put logic into the events in the video. Other times I’m just happy to re-watch it for the mood and spin stories of my own.
I’m still trying to figure out why The Maker made it to the list. This short film doesn’t seem much story within, but the visual design of the puppets used (yes, it’s not CGI!), along with the music makes it stay in the memories and earned it a place on my list. Let’s be honest, it’s mesmerizingly creepy. Interesting, but creepy.
So that’s my list.
I felt tempted to include the A Night to Remember for its stunning cinematic and beautiful use of a song as a clip between the beginning and the ending, but it’s been made as a trailer to Witcher 3 (and let’s be honest, all the Witcher trailers deserve attention) and another short film by the same director—Ambition would replace The Maker if I didn’t decide to stick with animation only.
What did I miss? What other short film deserves to be mentioned?
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.