The theme is Shorts, Seven films for the commitment-averse viewer
Artblog's film connoisseur, reek bell, writes about short films: a format they believe will make both filmmaking and film watching more accessible. Are you more of a TV person because you're rarely in the mood to commit to a feature length movie? Look no farther- reek's got you covered!

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My friend once told me they “love when I am moved by art”. The beautiful compliment stuck with me because I felt observed in a cherished way. I thought to myself, “wow- I’ve looked for that word, I have longed for it.” These days I’ve especially longed for that feeling. Lately many coping mechanisms have stopped working amidst all the mourning and tyranny. These are times where ash is in the skies of our friends, and we long for their embraces but we’ve had to accept that they will lay in waiting for much longer than we imagined. I am brought back to the word “moved”. Amidst it all, I am reminded that I can still be moved by art, and that my survival depends on connecting with love and passion, in whatever ways I can.

In August, I was fortunate to attend the Black Star Film Fest and interview the festival’s founder, Maori Karmael Holmes. Black Star Film Fest was FULL this year, a catalogue of 90 films as well as panels, Q&A’s, morning shows, and other events. It was a ray of Black sunshine in August. I found myself focused on the shorts programs, in that I found myself really inspired by their length, in awe of what can be accomplished with so little time.. I had been thinking about how short films were viewed mostly in galleries, museums, small screenings, and festivals. But that has become less true over the years due to the abundance of the internet and streaming services.

I’m excited about the wider distribution of these films. I see how short film can help quell the intimidation of a feature length film. I’ve observed that television can be easier for some people to not only pay attention to, but also commit their time to. I talk about this often with friends that will gladly watch five 30 minute episodes of television, but won’t be down when I want to do a double feature. It’s not always the time that deters them, it’s also that films have a beginning and end. But for many, it can also be time and focus, we live in an age of many distractions. We also live in a capitalist world that requires too much of our time and energy for survival. All of these things considered, I hope shorts can help make film more accessible to both viewers and creators. Rounding up some of my favorites from screenings and streaming services, and as an ode to the film form I’ve become re-enchanted with, this month’s list is short films of various genres.

A young man in a reflective suit sitting on a concrete lot in leaning back onto a reflective boat shaped vessel.
Still, “Flight” directed and written by Kia Moses. Photo courtesy “Flight” film and DC Black Film Festival website.

1. Flight (2018)

HBOMax

Kia Moses writes and directs this beautifully crafted coming of age tale about a young boy’s dream. Set in Jamaica, Flight is a story of family, and love that fuels imagination. It’s packed in layers, the challenges of what you think vs what you don’t know. The passage back and forth from waking life to dream fantasy makes me think about imagination as a means to cope with our realities. It makes me think how much my imagination feels like an underused, dusty muscle these days. I’m putting this right at the top because it’s wholesome as hell, very well may make you cry, and it is PARAMOUNT Black children are able to play and get lost in imagination, now and always.

2. Baby (2019)

Vimeo

Baby was delicious. Full of a familiar yearning, and fear. It’ll make you smirk, and maybe reminisce or day dream of a crush. Maybe a quiet crush, that was really loud inside you. Baby did have me in my feelings, missing touch, missing the slight grazing of hands, bumping shoulders every few steps, a gentle hand on the back in a fit of laughter ah.. we will embrace again my friends.

3. Atlantiques (2009)

Criterion Channel

This debut short from Mati Diop is a prelude of sorts to her feature film released in 2019 by the same name.The film is about a group of young men in Senegal, contemplating making the voyage across the sea to Europe in search of work and change, weighing their options of survival. Pandering, melancholic, poetic, a beautiful short. The feature length film is as beautiful and worth experiencing, I wrote about it a few months ago for The Theme is : Dreamy.

4. You Can Go Left or Right (2019)

Vimeo

A multimedia stop motion esque collage paired with narration from filmmakers at Philadelphia’s Riverside Correctional Facility for Women. The women wrote, directed, and animated the film. The film was a part of the collection screened by Scribe Video Center entitled Storyville: BLAK RAPP M.A.D.U.S.A. and ISIS Tha Saviour: Resistance through Hip Hop. The screening consisted of four short films, stories of resistance and survival through storytelling, hiphop, and poetry. I really enjoyed the flow, narrations, and the style of the film. I’m so glad this project exists, I want there to be opportunities for connection and creation of art for incarcerated peoples, I want art to be prioritized along education programs in prisons, I want people to have platforms to share their experiences, I want people to have outlets of expression of all their emotions, but most importantly I want people to be free.

Two women standing in a corner store, one pointing at something out of view of the camera.
Still, “Breathe/ Neefso” a film by Aisha Jama. Photo courtesy the film’s twitter account, @NeefsoFilm

5. Breathe/ Neefso (2020)

Art With Impact

I adored this film, I have been talking about it ever since I watched it!! A microshort at 4 minutes long that I felt used a seemingly small interaction to encapsulate anxiety’s interruptions in your day to day life, and how much the understanding and support of others can help us get through it. It can be the small things that mean the most. It’s incredibly impressive how much is captured in those four minutes.

6. Address Unknown (2020)

Watch the trailer

A friend longs for a friend. The violence of the apartheid government’s displacement and destruction of a community leaves it’s remaining members living in its shell amongst the ghosts of what used to be. Among them, a postman and his family is still living in the neighborhood, for now. The postman is determined to find a lost friend, reminded of him each time a letter arrives, and he knows no forwarding address, but he is committed to finding him.

7. Tender (2020)

Vimeo

This film lives true to its title. After an unexpected night two very different women, at very different points in their lives, share a sweet morning after hooking up. For one of the women, you can sense this experience is very new, and albeit unexpected to her. We see that initial discomfort present but throughout the short she becomes more comfortable and settled into what has happened. It’s very relatable, and a bit of sweetness that’s really nice to see.

Sign-off

I hope all have space and time to drift into dreams of your loved ones living rooms, imagining yourselves on their couches, wrapped in a blanket watching a movie, crying or laughing, or quietly focused, together.

Tags

address unknown, art, art with impact, Atlantiques, baby, blackstar film festival, BLAK RAPP M.A.D.U.S.A., breathe, collage, commitment, criterion channel, education, episodes, filmmakers, flight, internet, interview, ISIS Tha Saviour, length, love, maori karmael holmes, moved, movies, narration, neefso, passion, philadelphia, q&a, Resistance through Hip Hop, riverside correctional facility, scribe video center, short film, short movies, shorts, stop motion, Storyville, stream, streaming services, survival, television, tender, tv, tyranny, vimeo, women, you can go left or right

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