For new filmmakers short films are the best way to get into the world of cinematic storytelling. Being a genre on it self, we still have much to learn about documentary short film narrative possibilities. GuideDoc brings you these five groundbreaking short documentary films that defy the aesthetics of reality as we can't even imagine.
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Hotel 22 by Elizabeth Lo (Sundance International Film Festival)
A bus route is turned into an overnight hotel in the heart of Silicon Valley, California. It has been years since homeless men and women make themselves confortable on the rigid seats of this metal snake as it makes its uninterrupted journey around a city that has recently become a place of social contrasts. To film this microcosm in motion, young American director Elizabeth Lo chooses an observational approach with static shots where the sound of the vehicle is a character in itself. We hear its gears and frictions very close thus providing a first-hand sensory experience. One of the guests complains that the heating is not set and, in a climatic scene, the tensions of race in this multiethnic city explode in the heart of the night.
Black Sheep by Christian Cerami (IDFA)
Two English teenagers are about to attend a demonstration of the English Defense League (EDL), a right-wing organization famous for preaching Islamophobia. The short film begins with a parent-child home conversation where the event is anticipated as a catalyst to express the need to defend a notion of country that they believe is threatened by the growing number of Muslim immigrants. The adrenaline of experiencing a street rally among a group of people with common ideals is also accompanied with puerile yet lucid conversations about the concepts of good and evil. This dichotomy permeates this journey of two boys through the thin line that marks the distance between the notions of homeland and xenophobia.
Kookaburra Love by Sjoerd Ostrik (Locarno International Film Festival)
A Whatsapp conversation is placed as the main narrative vehicle of this ground-breaking short film about two lovers in the twilight of their relationship. The text is read by the anodyne voice of a voice over narrator, which is intercalated by a “pastiche” of imagery that create a wheel of emotions that the spectator receives with little but bearable mercy. The experimental nature of the editing allows us to question the limits of representation. Here we witness the abandonment of mimesis and an opportunity to use the emotional content within the images and sounds, either disturbing or touching, which act as a trigger of a sensory experience that refers to the psychological journey of our two virtual protagonists.
Snow Crazy by Laila Pakalnina (Vision Du Reel)
This film shows us how irony is the new tone of humor in contemporary filmmaking. Set in Latvia, a country where technically there are no mountains, director Laila Pakalnina tell the story of a country’s obsession for skiing. Here we will see quixotic skiers coming down the roofs of their own homes, skiing on the banisters of the public staircases and trying hard on a recently built artificial snow mountain. In Snow Crazy these situations are seen as in a carousel. The images are filmed with a sane sarcasm in order to convey a social state of quotidian madness with laudable humanity.
Ebb and Flow by Gabriel Marcaro (IDFA)
Young Brazilian director Gabriel Mascaro has already made a name in the circuit of avant-garde cinema. This short film is maybe the best example among his early works to show his characteristic way of merging the worlds of fiction and documentary to tell memorable stories. Premiered at the famous IDFA, in Amsterdam, Ebb and Flow shows in thirty minutes the apparently quotidian scenes of the life of Rodrigo, a deaf young man with AIDS who lives with her little daughter in a popular neighborhood in the Brazilian northeast. In this great short film one can identify the germ of a recurrent aesthetical obsession in Mascaro's filmography. It consists on listening and see on screen punctual elements of the pop-urban imagery, which are elegantly invoked in order to empty any trail of the purity with which the Latin-American rural and domestic worlds are usually seen.
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