Six short films to watch in your lunch hour
Stuff.tv’s Stephen Graves rounds up some mini-movie masterpieces to fill 10-minutes of any five-minute tea break – from chilling horrors to charming dramas
Alive in Joburg
Alien refugees land in Johannesburg, meeting a frosty reception from the locals, in Neill Blomkamp’s pastiche of a “message” documentary. If the premise of this short sounds familiar, that’s because the director went on to develop it into his debut feature film, District 9, in 2009. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot District 9 star Sharlto Copley as a local security type.
Sharon Colman’s animation starts off charmingly enough – a grumpy badger can’t get to sleep because of the incessant cawing of a pair of crows. And then another unwelcome intruder turns up to prevent our hero from getting his 40 winks… Colman treads the fine line between whimsy and making a serious point neatly, without getting too heavy-handed. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences thought so too – Badgered was nominated for an Oscar in 2005.
If you’ve watched Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, you owe it to yourself to check this short film out – it’s a companion piece to the movie, explaining just what happened on the other end of the call when Sandra Bullock’s luckless astronaut managed to make contact with Earth. Short film-makers the world over traded bitter laughs over Warner Bros’ idea of what constitutes a micro-budget – would that we all had a mere US$100,000 to play with – but there’s no denying that the film, shot on location in Greenland, looks spectacular.
Indie darling Wes Anderson’s short for Prada is every bit as charming as his feature-length films – it’s the story of a failed racing driver (played by frequent collaborator Jason Schwartzman) who fetches up in a tiny Italian village. Gorgeously-shot and packed with 50s production design, it’s also crammed with references to Italian director Federico Fellini. One for the dedicated cinephile.
An awesome – and eerie – tale of when technology goes too far, this short film is an insightful look at a potential future of gamification, Google Glass and augmented reality. Created by a pair of art-school grads, it presents a convincing vision of the future, with bionic implants, AR ad walls and apps that rack up points for real-life activities – turning everything into a game. To say more would spoil the story – which has shades of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror – but for those of us who are dedicated gatherers of gadgets, it’s a guaranteed jolt.
Enjoyed Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss’ spooky ghost story The Tractate Middoth over Christmas (see here)? Some years ago, he palled up with fellow League of Gentlemen alumnus Jeremy Dyson for this spooky short, based on a story by Robert Aickman. Its tale of an Englishman abroad who stumbles upon something uncanny is familiar from dozens of ghostly yarns – but the duo bring something of the unsettling flavour of the League’s best work to the film. See it here at the BFI site.
Stephen Graves is deputy online editor of Stuff.tv
LG’s Smart TV platform gives you big-screen access to short films hosted on YouTube and – more importantly – Vimeo, the real place for short-film production via its extensive app store. Find out more about LG’s Smart TV range here…