Ahead of our Shorts Porgramme, Short Of The Week put together a list of short-doc recommendations for you.
We are delighted to be collaborating with Short Of The Week for our upcoming online event DocHouse Shorts #3: Dislocation from Friday 14th – 16th May.
Short Of the Week has become a springboard of online film curation, helping to discover and promote the new wave of emerging filmmakers. As it gets harder to break into the industry Short Of The Week aims to give the new generation of filmmakers a platform and reach a wider audience.
This week they’ve looked into their vast catalogue and picked six recommendations for you. For deep dive into short films and information about Short of The Week head over here.
160 Characters by Victoria Mapplebeck
Synopsis: A story that unfolds in just 100 texts and tells the story of how two people, meet, date, break up and deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Shot entirely on an iPhone 6, 160 Characters uncovers the secrets and stories, buried in our mobiles both old and new.
Technically simple, but conceptually brilliant, Mapplebeck’s 2015 short is a stellar example of the narrative-first storytelling we look to champion on Short of the Week. Allowing viewers to delve into her personal life through a series of text messages, the filmmaker shares the story of a relationship that led to an unexpected pregnancy. An emotive and inventive film, 160 Characters felt truly distinct when we featured it and the questions it raises over how we communicate in an increasingly electronic world feel as relevant now, as they did back then.
Bear 71 by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes
Synopsis: The life of a grizzly in a Canadian national park from the perspective of data points and surveillance cameras presents a fascinating look at what it means to be wild in this interactive film from the NFB.
One of the main advantages that hosting a film on the internet offers is interactivity. Though we don’t see as many exciting interactive documentary projects as we would like nowadays, the ones we have featured on SotW remain some of the most memorable viewing experiences we’ve curated on our site. Along with fellow NFB title Welcome to Pine Point, Bear 71 remains an archetypal example of all an interactive doc can achieve when all its components are working in glorious harmony. It felt revolutionary when we featured it back in 2012 and I don’t think its been bettered since.
Fish Story by Charlie Shackleton
Synopsis: Sometime in the 1980s, Caspar Salmon’s grandmother was invited to a gathering on the Welsh island of Anglesey, attended exclusively by people with fish surnames. Or so he says. Thirty years later, filmmaker Charlie Shackleton attempts to sort myth from reality as he searches for the truth behind this fishy tale.
Proving that documentary can be as funny as any piece of fiction, Shackleton’s laugh-out-loud investigation into his friend’s (Caspar Salmon) sketchy family anecdote takes twists and turn as the filmmaker employs his best detective skills to find the truth behind the tale. A quaint and charming short, which blends creative visuals with an informal interview, we love it when a documentary feels as entertaining and humorous as this. It’s a welcome reminder that documentary filmmaking doesn’t always have to be hard-hitting and topical.
Lies by Jonas Odell
Synopsis: Three perfectly true stories about lying. In three episodes based on documentary interviews, we meet the burglar who claims to be a moonlighting accountant, the boy who finds himself confessing to a crime he didn’t commit and the woman whose whole life has been a chain of lies.
An outstanding animated doc is something we truly cherish on SotW and I can’t think of many better examples than Jonas Odell’s award-winning (it won awards at Annecy & Sundance in 2009) short Lies. A triptych of personal stories about deception, Odell’s film made an instant impact with its outstanding craft and flair, but stayed with us long after watching due to its emotional resonance, as it manages to provoke humor, self-reflection and empathy in its tight 13-minute runtime.
Still Here (還在) by Sean Wang
Synopsis: In Kaohsiung, Taiwan, a few residents refuse to leave their now-abandoned village.
One of our more recent favourites, Wang’s contemplative 10-minute short, centred around the last residents of an almost-abandoned Taiwanese village, took on extra relevance in a year of lockdowns. Its themes of isolation made it a topical watch, but its intimate ruminations on the importance of home give it longevity and announced Wang as a filmmaker to watch in the documentary arena.
The Rabbit Hunt by Patrick Bresnan & Ivete Lucas
Synopsis: Every weekend, seventeen year old Chris and his family hunt rabbits during sugarcane field burning and harvesting in the Florida Everglades.
Having released their debut feature Pahokee in 2019, Bresnan and Lucas are surely two of the most exciting names in documentary to have made the step from short film to feature in recent years. Having developed their own signature style – a new Social Realist verité – they have used their films to explore themes of capitalism and class within modern society. Though their observational approach to filmmaking is sure to be decisive, The Rabbit Hunt was a huge hit on the festival circuit, winning awards at Berlin, Sheffield Doc Fest, Sundance & SXSW.