While anyone can post their short film or digital media piece to Vimeo, very few get the special distinction of being a Vimeo Staff Pick. Even fewer end up with a “Best Of The Month” distinction. Each month, Vimeo picks what they consider to be the ten best videos on their site for that month. The picks are just as varied as the submissions, ranging from abstract animation pieces to heartfelt dramas to introspective documentaries.
This month, we’re reviewing the Vimeo Best Of the Month for August 2020.
Out Of Left Field (Most Surprising Pick) → “OUT OF SIGHT”, director Dirk Koy
A gloriously hypnotic collage of strange computer-generated shapes of fruit objects, this music video/short film hybrid based on a track called YELLO by Dieter Meier and Boris Blank borrows from the Adult Swim bizarro aesthetic to create a wholly unique experience of its own. It’s an incredibly catchy song, and the film’s rhythmic editing and smart sense of timing works well with it. It feels like something from a past age but yet ahead of its time — we guess you could say it has a strangely timeless appeal.
Star Power (Favorite Performance) → Lewis Pullman, “THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD”
THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD starts with a familiar cinematic trope of personifying that voice as a bullyish figure. But the clever twist comes when we realize Lewis Pullman’s entire office knows that this “voice” is a real guy who follows him around and verbally abuses him. What follows is a cringe comedy in the style of The Office. Pullman has to cover a range of emotions and make the twist a believable. Yet his strongest moments actually come later, in a more subdued scene when he takes up the courage to ask out a co-worker. It’s a wonderfully played out scene between both actors and a great moment to relieve an otherwise tense short.
Pullman is a subtle and smart performer in THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD.
Play It Again (Most Memorable Scene or Moment) → “#wombstories” director Nisha Ganatra
It’s hard to pick just one moment from this tightly-knitted and compelling montage of women’s stories, so we’re just going to select the entire film. Juxtaposing live action elements, stop-motion, animation and more, this short manages to capture the entire range of emotions and experiences that women go through (and that are unique to them). One part of what makes this such a memorable and rewatchable short is how fast it moves. It so strongly believes in its audience to be able to keep up with the visual logic as it jumps from new idea to new idea. It also isn’t afraid to go to some pretty complex places, making this a very resonant and cathartic watch.
Vimeo-Auteurs (Best Filmmaking) → Richard Noble, “WANDALAND”
A masterful short made at the Royal College of Art in London, Noble imaginatively charts the eccentric biography of a fictional contemporary to Walt Disney. This tale of obsession, loneliness and memory is excellent at a craft level (the animation is gorgeous) but also in its narrative choices. We hear from a disembodied narrator, giving us a detached and ruminative perspective on the event’s of this character’s life. One of the strongest aspects of this film’s direction comes, however, in its patient camerawork and its ability to hold shots and sustain the mystery. It also uses sound and background effects to create a chillingly accurate soundscape.
Noble takes a large gamble by releasing a short that really takes its time with its audience, particularly in a world that keeps demanding faster edits and shorter stories. Thankfully, it really pays off.
Best Of ‘The Best Of The Month’ → “ROUGHOUSE”, director Jonathan Hodgson
This 15-minute animated short has the elegance of a literary short story and the heft of a feature length drama. It follows the trials and tribulations of four childhood friends who live together during their college years. As the title suggests, masculine aggression turns to dark places and leads to tough emotional terrain each character must face.
The entire film plays out like a long dream, with an excellent narration speaking with the wisdom and foresight of maturity and years of separation. The power of the film largely comes in how absorbed we as an audience get with the story. The animation is top-notch, but it so organically matches the feelings of the characters that you almost forget to notice it — which is probably the highest compliment you can offer animated storytelling.
Another element that makes ROUGHOUSE stand out is its literary devices. Its narrative twists and turns stay rooted in the individual character psychologies, while its climax brilliantly calls back to the opening montage. This is a stunning achievement and one we hope many check out!