Contributor / @georgcsarmann
Recently I had the opportunity to give a guest lecture at my alma mater to talk about S/W, online curation and short films in general. It was the perfect occasion to think about how the state of short-filmmaking and online distribution has changed in the past 7 years since I came on-board of S/W. There’s a huge difference in the number of high-quality shorts one was could find online back in 2010 and now. The technological advantages have not only changed the landscape for filmmakers who continue to push the medium by innovating film language within the short format, but also for curators and critics like us who find joy in discovering new, exciting voices. Last but not least, we hope that those who profit most from these developments is the audience itself.
Many might agree that 2017 wasn’t the best of years, globally speaking. For me in particular I also had to deal with some personal setbacks, which lead me to a path of trying to find a sense of purpose in my own life and in correlation to the bigger picture that seemed to become more frustrating with each day. In the end, I rediscovered meaning and found strength where I always had – in stories, especially in films. Storytelling is how we shape our experiences and bring order to the chaos of everyday life. The teacher of the course I guest-lectured also reminded me of a fundamental principle of storytelling: Its not about creating sympathy, it’s about empathy. To the degree of understanding characters and situations we normally wouldn’t find something in common with, which might be even more important in a time in which the gaps between different viewpoints only seem to widen.
Empathy is about learning more about oneself by learning more about other people. It can be a naturalistic depiction of teenage girls drifting through the night in Cosmic Bowling, or the heartbreak of one woman in Fill Your Heart with French Fries. Intimate portraits of real life experiences in Election Night or Residue of a Relationship, that tell macro stories and events by focusing on micro circumstances. The moody experience of watching the poetic grandness of Fox and the Whale. New perspectives can also come within the seemingly well trodden tropes of genre filmmaking, as with Dawn of the Deaf‘s appropriation of a new sociological angle in zombie movies or the sketch-like structure of 5 Films About Technology.
If nothing else, films like these and many more that we featured on the site in 2017, keep reminding me why I fell in love with shorts in the first place. At their best, they make me a better person.