We Are One: 10 shorts to stream during the film festival
Laurence Boyce | On 31, May 2020
The We Are One Global Film Festival promises a smorgasbord of cinematic treats for those movie fans who have been starved of their film – and film festival – fix during the coronavirus pandemic. The 10-day festival brings together films from Cannes, Venice, Berlin, London, Tribeca, Annecy and more, with each title available to stream on YouTube for free.
31 feature films are playing across the festival, alongside interviews and Q&As – you can read our guide to the full schedule and recommendations here – but there are also more than 70 live-action, animation and documentary short films, all of which are available to stream throughout the festival after their online release.
This eclectic mix of styles and stories that play with expectations and show off what the short form can do. To help you navigate your way through, we provide a small smattering of the short film highlights that you can discover at the festival over the coming days:
The Distance Between Us and The Sky
The winner of the Palme D’or for Best Short at last year’s edition of Cannes, the film by Greek filmmaker Vasilis Kekatos is a beautiful tale of two lost souls who meet by chance at a gas station. Despite being only a scant eight minutes, the film packs an hefty emotional punch as our two protagonists create a connection predicated on both lust and longing. The handheld cameras have a tight focus on our main characters, which creates a wonderfully intimate atmosphere alongside engrossing performances from the two leads.
Director Jörn Threlfall creates a supremely clever and thought provoking piece with plays with audience expectation. The film explores the circumstances of a body being found in the middle of a suburban UK street which, initially, seems to be an exercise in style as its narrative is told in reverse. To reveal more would be to spoil the film but, suffice to say, it moves the film into some profound territory that makes us question our own prejudices. Winning a raft of awards when it was first released in 2015, it has not lost one iota of its power. Indeed, in the world we live in today, it seems more relevant than ever before.
This elegant animation examines grief and loss as a man prepares for the funeral of his wife as she – like a ghostly presence for the audience – tells us about their relationship and the moments leading to her demise. This has a crisp and art deco look, all clean lines and muted colours. There is, unsurprisingly, an air of melancholy here but this is punctuated by stabs of joy as music permeates the sadness – a reminder that grief and loss can only exist when it has been preceded by joy and love.
During a sweltering day on a crowded tram, a teenager catches sight of a woman in a headscarf. Soon he cannot stop staring at her, but the tram starts to fill with other people who seem determined to distract him. This is a simple idea that is filled with complex emotions as shared looks and hints of a smile are given a charged eroticism. While the film chiefly deals with the heady ups and downs of falling for someone in an instant, it also plays with notions of public and private space, which seems extremely relevant in this day and age.
A winner of 2019’s British Independent Film Award for Best Short after premiering in the Cannes short film competition, Dekel Berenson’s film is a darkly funny piece about an ageing Ukrainian woman, who is looking for some change in her life. She decides to do this by attending a soiree with her 16-year-old daughter and a gaggle of foreign men who are looking for love. Rife with absurdity, the film is also a thought provoking look at dealing with getting older and how believing the grass is always greener is sometimes an exercise in futility. An accomplished piece of work held together by Svetlana Alekseevna Barandich’s wonderful lead performance.
And Then The Bear
Director Agnès Patron creates a vivid animated fairy tale of oedipal rage and confusion as a young boy confronts his mother’s lover. With chalk drawings against a stark black background, we’re presented with a surreal and chaotic world in which fear of sexuality and innate jealousy become real. These childhood anxieties are brought to life via anthropomorphic manifestations as our young protagonist must try and channel his inner confusion and anger. But how will it come out? A fascinating and touching examination of the confusing feelings that abound when childhood starts to slip away.
This dreamy and surreal film from Argentina examines how we construct our idea of “God”. The film seems initially appears to have a horror movie aesthetic as a series of seemingly unconnected images comes together with a sense of unease as we search for meaning amid the chaos. Like many good shorts, Monster God – which garnered a special mention at Cannes 2019 – defies rational explanation, but invites us to look beyond our traditional boundaries and strive for a deeper understanding of the world.
Erenik Beqiri’s raw yet compelling slice of social realism tells the story of Ben, a young man who engages in illegal fights in the back of a van in the hope of earning enough money one day to be able to escape from Albania with his father in tow. But circumstances dictate that the already difficult path will become much rougher as both protagonists must make an agonising final choice. The clash between hope and despair is powerfully evoked thanks to some great performances and Beqiri’s eye for stark detail.
This animation from Dreamworks (one of a handful in the We Are One selection) is perhaps the most slick and accomplished of all the shorts on offer. It’s an unsurprisingly polished and well done affair about a bilby (a kind of marsupial for all the non-zoologically inclined) who tries to protect an albatross chick from harm. With lots of slapstick humour and fast editing, this is a grandiose delight that will appeal to both adults and children.
24 Frames Per Century
Originally made for the 2013 Venice Film Festival, this playful short from Athina Rachel Tsangari – director of such films as Attenberg and Chevalier – sees two film projectors reminisce on their past and lament a possible future in which they are obsolete. A heartfelt paean to the physicality of cinema, the film ends with a sense of cautious hope and seems particularly apropos for a festival born out of a great change in the film industry as well as the world as whole.