6 Great Short Films In The 2020 Fall Film Festival Circuit

What short films we are seeing dominate the conversation in this strange and unpredictable festival season.

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The film festival world is slowly but surely making its comeback. Most fests worldwide are still going all-virtual or a split format with minimal attendees. But thankfully we’re getting to see new premieres from around the world. While most of the big fests have come and gone this year, there’s plenty of shorts to talk about. Here’s the 6 of the best shorts to come out of the recent slate of fests.

David — Zach Woods

Plot: A therapy session that just keeps going worse and worse…

Marquee Festival Selection: Short Cuts at TIFF / Official Selection at Cannes

Why It’s Great: You probably know Zach Woods as Jared in Silicon Valley or as Gabe Lewis from The Office, but did you know he’s now a short film director? This is his directorial debut and from the brief but intriguing trailer, you can tell he’s bringing the cringe comedy of The Office with the story work of prestige television. With William Jackson Harper and Will Ferrell as your leads, it’s hard to go wrong.

Sanfield — Kevin Jerome Emerson

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Plot: The 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus Air Force Base are filmed with 16mm camera.

Marquee Festival Selection: NYFF Currents Selection

Why It’s Great: Kevin Jerome Emerson has been making excellent narrative and documentary shorts for years now, capturing contemporary American life with a prudent eye. Now he focuses on the military and brings a cinematic beauty to the enterprise. For a filmmaker with so many accolades, he still may have his best years of shorts before him.

Tie — Alexandra Ramires

Plot: This abstract animation follows two figures and a landscape as they move towards some semblance of desire and realization.

Marquee Festival Selection: Short Cuts at TIFF

Why It’s Great: The only animated short to make the list this year, Portuguese animator Alexandra Ramires’s beautifully rendered short uses a limited color palette and deep soundscape to deliver on a strangely beautiful cinematic experience. It’s hard to describe and that’s often the sign of a great and forward looking short. There’s a darkness and melancholy, but also a beauty. Humanity, objects and nature intersect in provocative and thought-provoking ways here.

The Night Train — Jerry Carlsson

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Plot: A boy gets on a night train only to meet the haunting and desiring face of another. Intrigue follows…

Marquee Festival Selection: Orizzonti Selection at Venice

Why It’s Great: Carlsson has been on a roll lately, most recently with the enigmatic award winner “Shadow Animals”. Known for taking intimate relationship and injecting them with ambitious filmmaking, “The Night Train” is a surprise for its restrained setting. Many great shorts have taken place on a train and Carlsson has provided another solid entry, dealing with themes of desire, seeing and being seen.

The Shift — Laura Carreira

Plot: A temporary agency worker finds out that she has lost her only source of work. What will she do next?

Marquee Festival Selection: Orizzonti Selection at Venice

Why It’s Great: In the tradition of the Dardenne Brothers, Laura Carreira directs a day-in-the-life drama with searing social realism. Actress Anna Russell-Martin carries this picture, bringing all the pathos, urgency and resilience that the character deserves. “The Shift” proves that nothing is more intense and involving than normal, everyday struggles.

The Unseen River — Pham Ngoc Lan

Plot: A group of stories told along the same river.

Marquee Festival Selection: NYFF Currents / Locarno Nominee for the Golden Pardino

Why It’s Great: This film is a real surprise, so the less said, the better! While the documentary style shooting makes this seem like a simple story on the surface, there’s much more than meets the eye. Intersecting stories create haunting, otherworldly parallels in theme and tone. A truly unique standout film of this year!

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