Short of the Week


From acclaimed indie short filmmakers, the Varava Brothers, comes the whimsical and historically accurate tale of one tumbleweed that did not tumble.

In our modern internet age where it has practically become pedestrian to treat the weird and out of place with disdain and snark, the Varava Brothers have established a delightful niche.  In their films, Jared and Justin Varava not only feature the different and “fringe” aspects of life but do so without without cynicism or malevolent intent.  As evidenced by their earlier work, the Varava Brothers may shoot the absurd, but they never compromise their subject’s humanity in the process.

With their newest film, the Brothers have stuck with this core theme, albeit with one major difference: their protagonist is a tumbleweed. More specifically, a tumbleweed who does not tumble. Tumbleweed! acts almost like a greatest hits of their distinctive style: a combination of quirky and heartfelt elements with a dash of faux-documentary and historical reconstruction.  It’s a smartly crafted juxtaposition of familiar elements. Dusty deserts take on a magical quality–a visual narrative as nostalgic as it is indicative of new media. Visual Effects are seamlessly integrated into the film’s lived-in look. Tumbleweeds dance and frolic, a beautiful organic ballet of motion and whimsy choreographed to a fantastic folkloric score.

Technical aspects aside, the film strikes a surprisingly emotional chord. After all, the Varava Brothers are storytellers, not CG artists (the short took three years to complete while the duo struggled to find a visual effects team willing to work on the project). In the film, we soon learn that our non-tumbling protagonist is an outsider–a stagnant reject who doesn’t fit in with his more kinetic brethren. But, our hero isn’t stagnant–not really. He slowly crawls forward, his movement invisible to the naked eye.  What results is as inspirational as it is beautiful–the revelation that progress is relative, that one person’s journey should not be defined by the rigid constraints of time or convention..

Working together under the title, An Illusion of Movement, Jared and Justin Varava have been making fantastic short films for years now.  I do hope that Tumbleweed! can finally give them the exposure necessary to fund an independent feature. With the film’s initial online success, it looks like they’re off to a good start. Their journey towards a feature film may be a long time in the making, but as Tumbleweed! indicates, sometimes we have to achieve our dreams at our own methodical pace.

Ivan is a filmmaker, video editor, and motion graphic artist from the Washington, DC area. He is an avid movie watcher and podcaster. He’s also quite handsome and charming (at least that's what his Mom says). For more information about Ivan, visit Lucky 9 Studios.
  • Directorsnotes

    Great write up Ivan, love this short! We had Jared on for an interview about how Tumbleweed!  went from a quick to knock out short to the 3 year  long ‘cursed’ project it became -

  • ivan kander

     I actually listened to your podcast to get some more info on the project–so I should definitely be thanking you!

  • Jared

    I should be thanking the both of you.  And I am.  Sincerely.


  • Rambler701

    Great job guys-very creative!That talent must come from your Mom-surely not your Dad-LOL!

  • Vakdasa

    the link for this film is looping 

  • Vtalbright

    I am unable to open this film.

  • Jason Sondhi

    Play link back up! A wordpress glitch kept deleting our field data. Many apologies, I encourage you to check this film out if it wasn’t working for you earlier.