41 Reasons To See Every Short Film At 2018’s Los Angeles Film Fest
41 Selections. 1 Reason To See Each Film.
The LA Film Fest has always been a great stop for independent cinema, and this year is no exception. Since the fest starts today and goes through September 28, what better time to see what major short film talent is coming our way.
Out of 3,100 submissions spanning 14 countries, these 41 short films were selected to screen throughout the week. Here’s a reason why you should seek out each and every one of these talented filmmakers and their films, either here at the festival or afterwards….
Agua Viva — USA (DIRECTOR Alexa Lim Haas)
Why This Short: Amazing Cine-animation
Director Alexa Lim Haas’ two short films rely on a series of animated images that unveil multiple layers of meaning — a truly stunning blend of artistic mediums.
Audition — USA (DIRECTOR Richard Van)
Why This Short: Serious Subject, Cinematic Touch
This story of an aspiring actor, who is also a single mother in an economically tough situation, has all the elements of vérité, but with a graceful touch of the improvisational from director Richard Van.
Beastly Things — USA (DIRECTOR Zev Chevat)
Why This Short: A (Wonderfully) Disturbed Style
If the animated films of Ari Folman and Sylvain Chomet made a baby, and it was in the horror genre, this would be the result. Atmospheric tension and downright disturbing imagery await!
Black 14 — USA (DIRECTOR Darius Clark Monroe)
Why This Short: Learn About Football Protests Pre-Colin Kaepernick
This short doc covers the year 1969, when African-American players at the University of Wyoming protested over racial exclusion. A reminder of attempts at social justice throughout history, and how much farther we still have to go.
Burn Bridge — USA/England (DIRECTOR Rhys Jones)
Why This Short: Harsh Realities Never Looked So Beautiful
Rhys Marc Jones has a prolific history of dealing with social dramas fraught with frustrated young love, often dealing with matters of sexual identity. This film is no exception, though get ready to enjoy Marc Jones’ crisp, precise framing on the big screen.
Caroline — USA (DIRECTORS Celine Held, Logan George)
Why This Short: Cannes and SXSW…Need We Say More?
LA Film Fest is just another stop in a long and successful road show for this slice-of-life childhood tale. You wouldn’t want to miss out on something with this much pedigree behind it, now would you?
Cheer Up, Baby — USA (DIRECTOR Adinah Dancyger)
Why This Short: A Visual Feast That Deserves The Big Screen
This former Vimeo Staff Pick of the Week is actually available in its entirety online. But from the first few minutes, you’ll want to see this one again on the big screen. From the lighting to the sound to the camera movements, everything here demands a theater all its own…and if you’re already at LA Film Fest, why not?
Counterfeit Kunkoo — India (DIRECTOR Reema Sengupta)
Why This Short: Groundbreaking In More Ways Than One
It’s being billed in most festivals as the Little Short Film That Could. Without any significant backing, Reema Sengupta managed to make her film the first short from India selected for Sundance in 15 years! It’s a shame we had to wait this long, but we’re so thankful this was the film to break the streak. Plus, this film’s production value and story structure is as one-of-a-kind as its festival selection.
Coyote — Switzerland (DIRECTOR Lorenz Wunderle)
Why This Short: The Swiss Adult Swim
The film’s trailer gets you prepared for some truly batshit crazy animation to come your way in the finished product. A Swiss production, this dark, dark comedy seems to hit all the absurd, violent, dirty notes you’d find from your favorite Adult Swim shows.
Cross My Heart — Jamaica/USA (DIRECTOR Sontenish Myers)
Why This Short: Trouble In Paradise
One of the most gorgeous shorts on the list, Cross My Heart promises to uncover scandalous secrets in the Jamaican family of the film’s title character. Tall waterfalls, mountain ridges at golden hour and more await you if you catch this one on the big screen.
Delay — Iran/Italy (DIRECTOR Ali Asgari)
Why This Short: Big Revelations In Unlikely Places
Films that take place in airports often have to take extremely unique angles to keep the setting interesting. Ali Asgari and crew look to do that here, as they base the short around a stunning transformation that happens in the last place known for stability.
The Earth is Humming — USA (DIRECTOR Garrett Bradley)
Why This Short: Scary Realities Committed To Film
This short doc covers all the ways in which the people of Japan, the country with the most earthquakes, attempt to prepare for the most particularly dangerous ones. An insightful look into the undeniable reality of nature vs modern humanity.
Falling — France (DIRECTOR Benjamin Vu)
Why This Short: Opposites Always Attract
It’s a 1990's period piece (hard to believe that’s already possible) with a timeless storyline: two complete opposites get put in a situation that make them see eye-to-eye or else. Sometimes familiar setups are the best ones to revisit.
Hair Wolf — USA (DIRECTOR Mariama Diallo)
Why This Short: B Movie Parody With Satirical Bite
Prepare yourself for a schlocky (in a good way) throwback to a time when bad horror movies were king. Only this time, there’s a new layer of sharp social commentary to chew on. You won’t want to miss a short this smart and well-executed.
Hierophany — USA (DIRECTOR Kevin Contento)
Why This Short: Capturing Life Outside The Margins
Many of the shorts at this festival tackle issues happening in big cities or well-known locations, but Contento’s short takes his cinematic eye to the rural South, capturing open fields and barren farmland for the sake of a story about the intersection between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Intercourse — Sweden (DIRECTOR Jonatan Etzan)
Why This Short: It’s All About Sex In The End
There’s a reason they say sex sells…Confined to a bedroom and between two lovers, this intimate drama explores just how quickly thoughts and feelings can change when we’re put in the most vulnerable of situations.
Jeom — USA (DIRECTOR Kangmin Kim)
Why This Short: Everyone Loves Stop Motion
In a time when it seems only someone with the clout of a Wes Anderson can get a stop-motion film financed, it’s refreshing to see this LA-based design studio put together a stunning short filmography based on the technology. Their latest, Jeom, looks to be their most inventive yet.
Kevlar — Sweden (DIRECTOR Tuna Özer)
Why This Short: Come (And Stay) For The Dialogue
It’s a moody piece, taking place just outside of Stockholm, but its most notable feature may in fact be the director’s ease in relying on naturalism in dialogue to create an authentic cinematic environment.
Ladders — USA (DIRECTOR Andrew Stephen Lee)
Why This Short: Diverse Storytelling Hits Hard
Andrew Stephen Lee brings his experience as a Filipino-American to the struggle of the main character who’s in jeopardy of losing out on a bright future. His past shorts have always done a great job of investigating cultural values, and this one is no exception.
Libre — USA (DIRECTOR Anna Barsan)
Why This Short: The Vision Of A Very Unique Artist
Anna Barsan is an artist and media educator that’s worked in the worlds of film, installation and live video performance. She brings her very unique artistic background to a unique story on detention centers for undocumented immigrants.
Lotus — Iran (DIRECTOR Mohammadreza Vatandoust)
Why This Short: The Real Meets The Cinematic
Based on real events, Lotus follows an old woman who was unwilling to leave her flooded home. It’s an extremely reflective and introspective experience, with vistas you wouldn’t want to miss catching in a theater.
Mud — USA (DIRECTOR Shaandiin Tome)
Why This Short: A Ticking Clock Movie
A short film that follows a troubled woman’s last day of life. It’s a formula used before, but it certainly never gets old for film-goers. Nothing heightens suspense and drama better than a ticking clock….
Nevada — USA (DIRECTOR Emily Ann Hoffman)
Why This Short: The Awkward Moments You Can’t Look Away From
Our second stop-motion short on the list, Nevada follows a couple obsessed over the kind of birth control they have (and don’t have) during their weekend getaway. Panic and hysteria closes in at every turn, making for a satisfyingly nerve-wracking experience.
One Leg In, One Leg Out — Canada (DIRECTOR Lisa Rideout)
Why This Short: Inclusive Storytelling
Unique voices permeate the festival selections, but perhaps none more so than this true story of a transgender woman making money on the streets in order to pay for a college education.
The Passage — USA (DIRECTOR Kitao Sakurai)
Why This Short: It’s Tim And Eric…But Not
Directer Kitao Sakurai is the mind behind the famous (or infamous) Tim And Eric, Awesome Show! Great Job, but his newest short is considered quite a formal and narrative departure from that cringe comedy model.
Room 140 — USA (DIRECTOR Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz)
Why This Short: Some Stories Just Need To Be Told
This chilling but necessary viewing follows immigrants just released from detention centers as they look to transition out of what they’d just experienced.
Roya — USA (DIRECTOR Shaina Pakravan)
Why This Short: Oscar Talent On Display
It’s a story that already never gets told, told with a fresh perspective. An Iranian-American mother tries to adhere to her culture’s traditions while fighting her rebellious teenage daughter at every turn. Plus, it features Oscar-nominated actress (for 2004’s House of Sand and Fog) Shohreh Aghdashloo.
Scratch — Spain (DIRECTOR David Valero)
Why This Short: Seeing The World From An Unlikely Perspective
A young DJ has a cognitive disability that impacts the way he sees the world around him. The protagonist’s very unique take on the environment is given the full cinematic treatment: don’t miss this hyper-kinetic vision at work.
Shadow Animals — Sweden (DIRECTOR Jerry Carlsson)
Why This Short: Something’s Slightly Off
Taking some cues from Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, this short takes the perspective of a young girl forced to tag along at an adult dinner party that, well…gets quite weird. See the trailer to get a taste of what you’re in for if you get to see the full film.
The Shift — USA (DIRECTOR Elivia Genny Shaw CO-DIRECTOR Paloma Martinez)
Why This Short: Truth Is Always Stranger Than Fiction
We all think we understand the job of a 911 dispatcher until a short doc like this reveals just how otherworldly a call center can feel. Experience the eerie atmosphere of utter calm in the call center even when calamity looms all around the city.
Sin Cielo — USA (DIRECTOR Jianna Maarten)
Why This Short: 4:3 Aspect Ratio Never Looked So Good
With a naturalism that still feels cinematic, director Jianna Maarten shoots the Mexico-US border with conviction and feeling that’s hard to find in most films, short of feature, these days.
Skip Day — USA (DIRECTORS Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan)
Why This Short: Yearn For Youth
Some of the most heart-wrenching stories come from movies that aren’t trying to be. Skip Day is a film oozing with nostalgia and loss without ever bringing them up by name.
Swedi — Sweden (DIRECTOR Sosi Chamoun)
Why This Short: Shot In One Take
Such feats of creativity and machinery as the long take are always fun to see on the biggest screen possible. Casual viewers will be taken by the story and camera, while more entrenched film-goers will endlessly speculate on “how they did that.”
This Magnificent Cake! — Belgium/France/Netherlands (DIRECTORS Emma De Swaef, Marc James Roels)
Why This Short: A Stop-Motion Period Piece
You heard us right. Stop-motion takes us back in time (specifically late 19th century colonial Africa), as the story weaves between 5 different perspectives. This extremely tactile and diverse animation is some of the most amazing handiwork you’ll see put on screen this year.
This, My Favorite Mural — USA (DIRECTOR Michael Arcos)
Why This Short: Watch Cultures Converge
The film is told from the perspective of a German woman with endless curiosity, but ends up being about the Latin immigrant experience in Louisiana. It’s a culture clash we find invigorating and necessary.
The Things You Think I’m Thinking — Canada (DIRECTOR Sherren Lee)
Why This Short: Shattering All The Molds
Toronto-based filmmaker Sherren Lee tells the story of a male burn-survivor and amputee who tries to allow himself the ability to have intimacy with another fully-abled man. It’s honestly a story never seen depicted on screen before.
True Love in Pueblo Textil — USA (DIRECTOR Horatio Baltz)
Why This Short: Great Child Performances
Taking place in the Cuban countryside, this story of young love really relies on the strength of its young main character, Maribel. We follow her as she works through the feelings she has for another person at school. This honest and humorous performance will prove infectious and heart-warming, particularly in a festival setting.
War Paint — USA (DIRECTOR Katrelle Kindred)
Why This Short: Shining A Light On Racism In America
A South LA teen with plenty of potential experiences the subtleties of racism impacting her own life. It’s a powerful reminder we’ll never stop needing as long as racism exists in this country or others.
Weekends — USA (DIRECTOR Trevor Jimenez)
Why This Short: The Surreal Meets The Domestic
Hand drawn animation will never go out of style, and this short only further proves that. A boy must go back and forth between divorced parents in 1980’s Toronto. The fractured, surreal perspective of an only child going through something like divorce is perfectly (and beautifully) captured here.
While I Yet Live — USA (DIRECTOR Maris Curran)
Why This Short: Long Live Positive Cultural Tradition
African-American quilters from Alabama weave together stories as well as they put together quilts. It shows the power of family, culture and tradition.
Wild Wild West; A Beautiful Rant By Mark Bradford — USA (DIRECTOR Dime Davis)
Why This Short: Reflection On The Nature of Art And The Artist
What a more perfect short to end this list on than one that explores the questions of art and artistry itself. With self-reflexive and experimental subject matter, this short helps to tie together all of the metaphysical loose ends behind the things that we love doing the most: making and watching art.