As you might have noticed, this year we dispense with what has our been our traditional year-in-review Top Ten list (examples here) in order to highlight even more quality deserving content than that stale format allows. The SotW Awards are the result, and last week, after surveying an incredible year’s worth of short film picks, we presented our favorite Animation, Live-Action and New Media pieces of 2011. Today we present category winners, a short collection of what we feel is the best of the best, including our Overall top short film of 2011. Enjoy, discuss, share!
Best New Media
Documentary ABOUT Art IN Live-Action

Kitty & Lala, 80 Impression

Enter the world of Chinese wedding photography through the work of 80 Impression, an amazingly creative and popular duo of artists.

It was quite a year for branded films, and Kitty & LaLa, 80 Impression, a short doc from prolific web content purveyor Intel, encapsulates a lot of what we like about the trend. Namely, creative people getting to be creative! While celebrity is most often the currency which allows branded content to exist, the goal is to recognize talent and let them have free play within a short format. Intel and the creative crew at Amsterdam Worldwide allow Qiao Li to do that, with the result being an almost perfect short documentary: visually engaging, formally inventive and with fascinating subjects, Kitty & Lala effectively markets to the digital creative class by employing creative people to energetically profile creative artists. Not the most creative formula, but perfect in its priorities.
Best Live-Action
Experimental ABOUT Nothing IN Live-Action

Umshini Wam (Bring Me My Machine Gun)

Harmony Korine & Die Antwoord team up for this bizarre film that follows the antics of two wheelchair-bound rapscallions.

It’s a clichéd anecdote to make, but Umshini Wam works on multiple different levels, and as such is one the most perfect collaborations yet seen between artists in the short film realm. The comedy is most easily apparent, what with the pajama outfits and wheelchairs, spoofing Natural Born Killers-style spree films in a way that jives perfectly with the outsized internet-personas of the performers Die Antwoord—ridiculous, and yet somehow still maintaining an edge. As performance, a filmic space for two weird entertainers to function, it is likewise a success, with Ninja’s big-bong schlong freestyles and Yo-Landi’s insane dolphin calls being uproarious. But to somehow fit heart and genuine pathos into this convoluted whole is a testament to director Harmony Korine. Even further, add the setting which is Africa. War, problematic race relations and cultural imperialism are all legacies implicitly present. Take the totality of opportunities to read social commentary into the film, and you could write a book.
Best Animation
Dark Comedy ABOUT Nothing IN 3D Animation

The External World

Enter the disturbing world of David OReilly (Please Say Something) for a spin into low-poly, subconscious madness.

It’s hard to bestow any praise on David O’Reilly that hasn’t previously been delivered 100 times over. He is our most acclaimed independent animator of recent years. Why? O’Reilly’s shocking, juvenile, but also deeply humanistic POV has many admirers, however animation is a visual form, so O’Reilly’s formalistic innovations must be strongly credited as well. He has been the man to lead animation through a conceptual blockage—3D animation was being dominated by commercial aesthetics. Did you make Pixar-style animation or video-games? O’Reilly did neither, instead showing a virtuosic understanding of animation’s principles, he deconstructed 3D to the point of absurdity. The External World is the most perfect distillation of his creative overabundance: brash, crude, overflowing with characters, jokes, emotions, sensations. Perhaps the mostly carefully-considered animation of the year is paradoxically a chaotic mess, and we love it.

***

Thanks for following along with our awards presentation! A reminder, don’t forget to check out the other SotW Awards winners within the individual categories of AnimationLive-Action and New Media. Also come back tomorrow as we host a virtual roundtable with the winners of the SotW Awards, picking their brain on the state of online short film, and the influence of the web on their careers. Now, without further delay, 2011’s SHORT FILM of the YEAR.

***

OVERALL WINNER: SHORT FILM OF THE YEAR
Documentary ABOUT Society IN Interactive

Welcome to Pine Point

A remarkable interactive media experience about a town that's no longer on the map, but is not forgotten.

At our core, we at Short of the Week prize storytelling above all else. We trumpet stories, we celebrate storytellers, and in our editorial, we try our hand at telling stories ourselves. Stories have the power to inform, transform, transport and uplift ourselves and, through extension, the world. Maybe that’s why Pine Point struck a chord with us. Sure, we have an interest in technology and trends, and as the first interactive film to unimpeachably “work”, Pine Point is a sexy choice for us to make as our Short Film of the Year. But sexy isn’t our mission. More than medium, more than form or structure, this work resonates because it is a good story about the importance of stories. Pine Point is no longer on the map, the setting of so many stories, vanished. Stories are what make us, they are how we relate to ourselves and others. Without them there is a sadness and dislocation in having part of you removed. This film recognizes that feeling and remarkably, movingly, it rescues some of those stories, placing them in a technological wrapper that is cutting edge and an aesthetic bleeding with nostalgia. The result is emotional, intimate and simply great storytelling—the most affecting short media experience we found on the web in 2011, and now Short of the Week’s Short Film of the Year.