Today ends 10 days of coverage on the short films of SXSW 2020. From 8 films that were online in advance of the festival’s scheduled run, to 7 straight days of new, featured reviews, it’s been a fun and rewarding experience to highlight some of our favorite films and filmmakers denied their proper spotlight at what is, traditionally, our favorite festival short film program of the year.
As events in the world quickly progressed, our initial alarm and sadness at the unprecedented canceling of SXSW feels more and more quaint. Festivals the world over announced their cancellations during the course of putting out this collection, and it has become clear that this is not an isolated event, but one that will have deep reverberations for independent film going forward. Writing from lockdown in NYC, I have, on occasion, questioned the wisdom of so heavily promoting these otherwise deserving works during a period of escalating crisis—disruptions to what are, in the grand scheme, frivolous events feel like the least of our worries at the moment. That said, I ultimately don’t regret it—this is our space and our community, and I hope that sharing these new discoveries with you has been a welcome diversion and a hint of normalcy in abnormal times.
SXSW will still be announcing their official jury awards at some point in the near future (editor: here they are!) , and other festivals are working hard to adapt to evolving circumstances in order to preserve a semblance of the important role they play in the promotion and celebration of artist works and careers. We’ll continue to publish as normal going forward, but it is clear that we will all need to band together in new and novel ways to support and aid each other through this. Short of the Week is open and happy to stand as a partner to filmmakers and organizations during this time.
As we close out SXSW Week, today we’ll leave you with a short preview of 5 of our favorite short films from the lineup that are not online yet, films that you should look out for in the following weeks and months, either at a festival (God, looking forward to those again!) or with a future online release. Enjoy, and stay safe!
A Period Piece
Dir: Shuchi Talati
So much is said with so few words. Geetha, a control and order loving Indian-American woman, finally has sex with Vehd one afternoon but things quickly turn messy when period blood stains her pristine couch and a fight erupts mid-coitus, causing her pent-up feelings spill over. The film captures the messiness of sex, while also not forgoing the emotion behind it. – Céline Roustan
Dir: Berthold Wahjudi
To our mind, the platonic ideal of a modern romantic comedy. Laia from Spain and Emil from Iceland are students spending the summer abroad in Munich. After having sex a couple of times, Emil professes his love to Laia—she panics and runs away. Sexually and emotionally frank, but unbelievably charming and with two charismatic lead performances, this film captured my heart at Palm Springs where I was on the jury that awarded it “Best Live-Action”. – Jason Sondhi
Dir: Ed Bulmer
Frank told a joke at work. Nobody laughed. Now at 3 am he’s unable to sleep as he obsesses and ruminates over this social faux-pas, leading him to ponder on the nature of memory itself. A pick I originally spotted on UK television, the film is fun, short, and the craft has a DIY feel at times, but I love the way the 2D & puppet work blends together into a funny and relatable whole. – Rob Munday
Dir: Matthew Puccini
Marco cuts class to spend the afternoon with his boyfriend. Things do not go as planned. A two-time alum of the site (The Mess He Made, Lavender) Puccini is back with his most conventionally pleasurable film yet. Continuing his intimate exploration of gay relationships, I like how you can translate the feelings felt by each character to a more macro level, invoking themes of growth, inexperience, and trust. – Ivan Kander
Dir: Sara Kiener
The Shawl is a short animated documentary piece from Sara Kiener. A pair of big and beautiful boyfriends celebrate their reunion at a Stevie Nicks concert, where they share a brush with magic. Basically, the film is a version of the best story you’ve ever heard at a party, punctuated by colorful art design and two unforgettable characters who ooze charisma. – Jason Sondhi
This post is an entry in SXSW Shorts Week, which seeks to celebrate the selected short films of the SXSW 2020 program in the wake of the festival’s cancellation. Follow along on our site, on YouTube, and on social media via the hashtag #sxswshorts.