Ivan Kander / Washington D.C.
Editor / @IvanKander

Perhaps I’m getting jaded, but after curating short film for the past 5 years, I was a bit disappointed by 2017’s offerings. Don’t get me wrong—I watched some incredible films this year. But, usually, compiling an end of the year top 10 list—out of the over 300 we’ve featured—is a ruthless barrage of Sophie’s Choices. This year, though, I was able to narrow down my favorites relatively quickly. So, what type of film doesn’t interest me? Well, in terms of trends, there were too many beautifully bland docs (we get it…you have a Ronin and your FS7 can shoot slow motion)…too many gorgeous looking feature film teasers that did little more than tease. I’m not interested in an amuse-bouche that may or may not result in a full meal (if the filmmakers can secure elusive funding). If I never hear the phrase “proof of concept” ever again I’d be quite happy.

For my top 10, I opted for shorts that can stand on their own—complete, albeit brief, thoughts. I realize it sounds painfully trite, but I enjoy a good story. That’s a diplomatic way of saying that abstract material rarely works for me. Give me structure. Give me interesting characters. Give me a definitive ending.

Though, I still surprise myself: this year I went completely off brand and selected a *gasp* experimental animation about a chaotic drug trip (The Night I Dance with Death). Two Dosas made me smile and cringe, supplemented by innovative creative visual flourishes. And, then there’s a film like Sweet Things—a short with no real “plot,” but it did fill me with a palpable and powerful sense of unease that stuck with me long after its brief runtime had expired. The Disappearance of Willie Bingham and Unremarkable left me with similar feelings of unease, unnerving me for weeks after watching. In the case of Bingham, it’s the only short film to ever give me a honest-to-goodness nightmare. So, you know, there’s that…

As for my top pick, I Know You From Somewhere from Andrew Fitzgerald is one of the most accomplished shorts I’ve seen in recent memory. Astonishing production values complement a topic that is both enthralling and disturbingly relatable, especially in a culture that thrives on public shaming. To call it brilliant somehow seems insufficient. It just nails everything so perfectly—story, pace, character, aesthetic—that one adjective doesn’t quite do enough.

For those who are S/W regulars, thanks so much for sticking with the team. We spend a lot of time watching everything, so you can spend your time only watching the best. For new patrons to the site, kick back, relax, and get ready to watch the best that the short form has to offer.

Ivan’s Top 10 Shorts of 2017

Dark Comedy Andrew Fitzgerald

I Know You From Somewhere

A young woman incurs the wrath of the internet after inadvertently becoming a viral sensation.

Comedy Sarmad Masud

Two Dosas

Geeky Pavan takes his 'English Rose' on a date to the most authentic Indian restaurant in the city. To his horror she goes off-menu, in Hindi...

Horror Matt Richards

The Disappearance of Willie Bingham

Inmate Willie Bingham is the first man selected to undergo a gruesome new punishment introduced under the State’s revised stance on capital crime.

Drama Jared Anderson


A woman is shot and killed. What happens to her next is extraordinary in its ordinariness

Romance Fernanda Frick

Here's The Plan

A married cat-dog couple of cupcake bakers dream of opening their own bakery. One day their oven breaks and they have to postpone their dream in order to earn money and replace it. Somewhere down the line, they drift apart from their dream and from themselves.

Documentary Dillon M. Hayes

The Rolling Mill

The mayor of Cumberland, Maryland intends to revive his community by bulldozing a historic neighborhood in the economically depressed city. While the neighborhood around them deteriorates, 12 residents have formed an alliance that refuses to negotiate the sale of their homes.

Comedy Kevin Lim

Whispers Among Wolves

Every Wednesday, an alcoholic CEO and her PA sit down to business. But tonight, old wounds will reopen and their co-dependency will come under scrutiny.

Fantasy Vincent Gibaud

The Night I Dance With Death

This gorgeous and fluid French animation depicts the psychedelic, violent and liberating experience of young man who takes a drug at a party.

Drama Henry K. Norvalls

Sweet Things

A woman finally get the job she's been waiting for, but a sweet offer never comes without a bitter aftertaste.

Dark Comedy Tamar Glezerman


When a woman gets dumped by her girlfriend at a fast food joint, she finds herself too sad to go home and just stays there for a week