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.