Finding Best Short Films on Mubi was not an easy task. Writing and directing short films is an excellent passion for aspiring indie filmmakers. Short films are not just a small form of cinematic narrative; on the contrary, they are a major one. It is true that writing and directing short films takes the same talents as producing a feature film, just on a smaller scale. Despite the fact that broadcast options are restricted, there are an increasing number of outlets for these opportunities.
Short films were always considered a sort of artistic experimentation, but the popularity of this genre has skyrocketed in recent years. Short films are gaining in popularity among the general public as a result of the proliferation of new technologies and production possibilities, as well as a large number of professionals and amateurs who are distributing their short films on internet platforms.
Accordingly, the best short films share a few important characteristics: concise storytelling, excellent acting, an original premise, a visual proposition, and extensive use of visual effects throughout the film. Taking this into consideration, and after reviewing the large number of film works that are now available on MUBI, we have compiled a selection of 10 short films by contemporary directors that you should not miss out on watching.
1. The Fall (2019)
It is a 7-minute film directed by Jonathan Glazer in the United Kingdom. A tall tree shakes in the middle of the night in the heart of a deep, foreboding forest. A scared runner hangs to the gnarled trunk for dear life while his hideous masked persecutors attempt everything they can to throw him down on the earth. Gravity then takes its toll, and a tight noose enters the scene. Is there a way out of the bloodthirsty mob and the long, treacherous fall? “The Fall” is simple enough to be a joke, but disturbing enough to be a warning. It clearly depicts the mindless brutality that lurks beneath the faces we see in everyday life.
Jonathan Glazer, the British filmmaker behind countless legendary music videos (Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”) and films like Birth and Under the Skin, has a way of channeling a gloomy mood that defies logic and reason, much like the best poetry or your worst nightmares.
2. Olla (2019)
Olla is hands down my favourite best short film on Mubi. A red-haired girl from Eastern Europe (Romanna Lobach) walks in a suburban French neighborhood, emerging from the dense winter fog, wearing a short dress, high heels, a purple puffer jacket, and lugging a large grey trolley bag. Her arrival on the picture is as legendary as her departure at the climax of Ariane Labed’s directorial debut, Olla.
The main figure has no past or future, but she left enough hints throughout the 27-minute short film for us to imagine what her life might have been like if she had appeared out of thin air, literally, and after departing. Labed portrays an enigmatic character whose presence not only provides an engaging character study but also demonstrates how men react to her and finally project themselves onto her.
Olla meets Pierre (Grégoire Tachnakian) online and decides to move in with him. We don’t know anything about their romance, but this appears to be their first meeting, requiring a huge leap of faith on both ends. Weirdness and disparities in expectations are to be expected. In the days that follow, Pierre begins to shape her into the woman he wishes, first suggesting that she call herself Lola in order to fit in better. The connection eventually devolves into abuse. Olla, on the other hand, tries to fit in, but her minor attempts at readjusting to her new surroundings, are treated with ridicule.
3. GUO4 (2019)
Featuring elements of a music video and a spoof of a pornographic film, this short piece raises questions about masculinity by mocking the macho character who is constantly eager and ready to fight and demonstrate his might. It is a short film by the extraordinary Peter Strickland – who is responsible for films such as Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy – that plays with the viewer’s senses, starting with the ambiguities (from agony to pleasure) of the body language and ending with a jarring editing style.
Inspiring by Bob Mizer’s homoerotic photography, British unconventional director Peter Strickland collaborated with London-based musicians GUO to create this whimsical stop-motion short of homosexual sensual reverie. On a locker room floor, GUO4 brilliantly and literally deconstructs masculinity.
4. Apocalypse After/Ultra Pulpe (2018)
A psychedelic fantasy film set serves as the inspiration for this passionate, sensual, and gaudy mosaic of brilliant colors and neon lights, which is based on the act of inventing and presenting stories in its various forms. Out of this come five stories about lust, the tensions between revulsion and attraction, poetry, and debauchery, among other things.
A deserted beachside resort. The production of a fantasy film about the end of an era has come to an end. Apocalypse and Joy, two women on the film crew, one an actor and the other a director, are on the verge of ending their love affair.
Directed by Bertrand Mandico, in a compelling, playful, and lucid manner at the same time, reflects the dual character of cinema, an art form in which actors and actresses are praised and appreciated, but also exploited and consumed, in a captivating, humorous, and lucid manner. It is powered by overwhelming female desire, exotic animals, and magnificent landscapes, all glowed in brilliant hues. A film-within-a-film set during the making of a fantasy picture is a sensory overload!
5. The Staggering Girl (2019)
It was the collaboration of Italian director Luca Guadagnino – director of Call Me By Your Name and Valentino fashion designer Pierpaolo Piccioli that enabled them to use the 2018/2019 collection of opulent and magical dresses to bring them together. In this 37-minute short film, Francesca returns to her childhood home in Italy, prompted by a stranger’s shocking confession, to persuade her dying mother to accompany her to New York. Francesca’s youth returns in a maelstrom of grief, recollection, and fulfillment when her daughter confronts her mother.
While The Staggering Girl follows a journey that is likely to leave viewers feeling disoriented along the way, those willing to yield to its surreal execution will be given to a strong feast of fashion and forgotten memories, one that succeeds almost exclusively via the mesmerizing power of its beauty alone. The past appears more palpable than the present in this scene, and by matching and embroiling their timeframes, Guadagnino suggests that cinema has the power to flip the fabric of memory inside out and study its seams.
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6. THE ALPHABET (1968)
David Lynch’s strange nightmare on film depicts the continuously relentless and unpleasant change of the alphabet by combining unsettling stop-motion animation and toxic live-action with a subconsciously torturing “Alphabet Song” sang by Robert Chadwick.
A sleeping girl’s unsettling night-time dream sequences are embodied by vivid images, disturbing worries, and abstract phobias, as the 26 letters of the English language become emblems of deterioration and punishing tools of a parasite entity. Each letter generates a new set of harmful mutations.
David Lynch’s second picture, termed by its writer-director as “a nightmare about the terror associated with learning,” is definitely his. The Alphabet, an avant-garde mixture of animation and live-action, foreshadows his subsequent works with its frightening union of innocent purity and boiling evil.
7. Mobilize (2015)
A thrilling voyage from the far north to the metropolitan south, masterfully guided by folks who live on the land and propelled by the natural world’s pulse. Everyday life moves with strength, precision, and tremendous ability over all landscapes and in all conditions.
In order to create this fast-paced voyage into the heart and spirit of Canada’s Indigenous experience, artist Caroline Monnet was allowed access to over 700 archive films. Mobilize is a truly innovative, cleverly put-together visual collage set to a mesmerizing soundtrack by Inuk artist Tanya Tagaq.
8. Hidden (2020)
Directed by Jafar Panahi, short film follows him, his daughter, and a theater producer colleague to a remote Kurdish town to meet a woman who is a supernaturally great singer whose traditional family forbids her from performing in public. What they discover is a secret that must be kept concealed yet yearns to be revealed.
This stunning short from Iranian artist Jafar Panahi finds traces of his 2018 movie 3 Faces. Hidden is a beautiful and personal mystery that builds to a shattering finish. It is a poignant investigation of performance and personal autonomy in the face of religious intolerance.
9. Unrelated (2007)
Directed by Joanna Hogg, a party of Brits are on vacation in Italy, having hired a Tuscan country property. The group is divided into two generations: middle-aged people and their young adult offspring. Verena, her husband Charlie, and their three children, Jack, Badge, and Archie, are among those invited, as are Verena’s cousin George and his son Oakley, and Verena’s friend Anna and Anna’s husband Alex, both of whom has no children. Alex cancels his vacation at the last minute.
Although Anna claims that Alex’s absence is due to a last-minute work engagement, Verena guesses that the two are having marital problems, which is correct. Verena isn’t sure because she and Anna have drifted away, Anna who hasn’t spoken in her about her recent life. Despite her friendship with Verena, Anna is drawn to the activities of the four younger people, particularly Oakley, to whom she is attracted. Oakley, for his part, subtly lures her on. Anna’s mood and actions on vacation was mostly a result of some recent news, which may have been the catalyst for or aggravated the troubles she and Alex were experiencing.
A first-time British filmmaker has emerged from nowhere with a remarkably brilliant, delicate, and totally assured film. Class issues have always concerned British cinema, but it’s been a while since such issues have been handled with the penetrating realism that makes “Unrelated” so compelling.
10. Theatre of War (2018)
A historical reconstruction of the Battle of Las Malvinas, told from the perspectives of veterans from both sides of the battle. One that moves between reality and fiction to the point of being almost as if it were an essay, this film investigates the psychological and social ramifications of the war. Theatre of War is an exercise in which participants are forced to confront their memories as well as the ability of movies to communicate stories.
Directed by Lola Arias, It includes flaws and defects into every scene in an attempt to jolt the system out of its animal cycles and memory loops. Theatre of War, an enlightening and artistic study on the meaning of combat, becomes even more essential in an era when the West’s connection to war is moderated (or altogether hidden from view) by official media censorship. It suggests the potential of forgiveness, even though these men were once adversaries on the field, without turning the whole affair into a mushy effort in staged reform