It’s often tough to find a unifying theme to shorts we select as our monthly “Best Of” picks, and  the breadth of styles and forms on display in December’s chosen films is massive. A shapeshifting drama based on a prize-winning literary short story sits alongside a wildly inventive mixed-media animation, which in turn is followed by a devastatingly artistic and emotional documentary.

On reflection however, what each share are subjects that transgress boundaries, and filmmaking approaches willing to do the same. From the blurring of genre in The First Men, and the pop-genius creativity on display in The Chaperone, to the mystically elegiac tone struck in Last Letters, we see stories that are nominally conventional attacked in a sideways fashion in order to distill more purely the underlying theme of their filmmaker’s vision. 

In doing so, these three films distinguish themselves amongst their peers in pushing storytelling in innovative directions. That spirit is precisely our vision for short film, and what, as curators, we want to champion. Thus I’m very pleased to share these must-watch picks from the end of 2016. 

Drama Benjamin Kegan

The First Men

A trip to the mall with mom does not go as planned for a high school teacher after she crosses paths with some of her students. A short film based on the short story by Stacey Richter.

Documentary Fraser Munden

The Chaperone

A DJ and former teacher recall the stranger-than-fiction night that a motorcycle gang crashed a middle school dance in this one-of-a-kind stereoscopic 3D animated documentary.

Documentary Nils Clauss

Last Letters

A journey through loss, space and memory. The film commemorates the victims of the tragic Sewol ferry accident, in which 304 out of 476 passengers and crew members died in 2014.

Watch past Best of the Month Selections