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Best Shorts of 2013

2013 has been a great year for film – and it’s also no secret that a lot more attention has being given to the short film industry of late. Whether it’s due to a lack of funds for a feature, our ever increasing culture of throwaway videos via the likes of YouTube/Vine/Instagram etc., or just the fact our attention span is becoming shorter, the volume of short films available is becoming more and more prevalent. Regardless of the reasons behind their current boost in popularity, shorts have a lot to offer. Most notably, they serve as a platform for future talent, a form of marketing for brands or as Jonás Cuarón recently proved, a companion piece to a feature.

Having yet to see such critically acclaimed films as Captain Philips, Blue Is The Warmest Colour or 12 Years A Slave this year, it seemed unfair to write a piece on the top films of 2013. Instead, here are five of the best shorts from this year and while there’s sure to be a feature-length masterpiece or two I’ve yet to see, I have been fortunate enough to witness the following shorts:

Writer/Director Alex Bohs is definitely one to watch. The Columbia College graduate made a name for himself recently, having won a series of awards earlier this year with his charming short Finding Franklin –  a poignant tale of past love dedicated to his grandmother. His most recent effort MUM is undoubtedly his best work yet. Funded by Kickstarter and influenced by Bohs’ own personal experience in the Chicago gay club scene, the film follows William, a young gay man struggling to come to terms with life after a tragic accident months prior. With a narrative void of dialogue, MUM’s real triumph is in showcasing the importance of human connection simply through visuals and sound. Ben McBurnett’s assured cinematography, most notably underwater, along with the phenomenal sound design by Twin Sound are intrinsic to the film’s overall mood. Already a Vimeo Staff Pick it surely won’t be long before Bohs will be adding to his growing collection of awards.

Cool Unicorn Bruv
Following great success with experimental music videos for the likes of JJ DOOM, Graham Coxon and Mykki Blanco, Ninian Doff recently released his first short, Cool Unicorn Bruv. Despite a runtime shorter than his aforementioned work, Cool Unicorn Bruv manages to fit a great deal of humour within two minutes, whilst depicting what East London would be like if magical unicorns really existed. Guaranteed to make you smile.

Castello Calvalcanti

Whilst the world patiently waits for Wes Anderson’s next feature The Grand Budapest Hotel, it was with great joy that I witnessed this short film for PRADA appear online in recent weeks. Starring Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman as a racing driver in 1950’s Italy, Castello Calvalcanti is full of Anderson humour as well as his trademark shooting style. One can only wish all fashion houses would hire Wes to shoot their adverts.

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Recently shortlisted for Best live-action short at next year’s Academy Awards, Jesse Atlas’ time bending drama Record/Play is a real masterclass in exploring a grand idea within a mere eleven minutes. Beautifully graded and with a truly cinematic blend of wide and close up shots, Atlas delivers a tragic tale of war, love and time travel in the space of time it takes most of us to get out of bed in the morning. The film opens on a man playing back a recorded tape from a past lover before discovering there’s more than just sound to the cassette he holds. To disclose anymore would be unjust but it’s worth mentioning the sheer brilliance in acting from both Mustafa Shakir and Deepti Gupta. With a bit of luck this won’t just be Jesse Atlas’ big break. Catch it before it picks up a golden statue.

Following great praise for his short Karaoke! at Sundance this year, Andrew Renzi is another simmering talent bound for great things in 2014. Produced by Borderline Films, and echoing producers Antonio Campos’ (Afterschool & Simon Killer) and Sean Durkin’s (Martha, Marcy, May Marlene) previous work, Karaoke! tells the tale of a young man desperately avoiding his troubled emotions amongst a New York City backdrop. Brady Corbet is cast to perfection as Christopher, holding a perturbed and distant gaze throughout, he never allows the audience to lose their intrigue behind the phone calls and text messages he tries so hastily to evade. Renzi’s skill lies in the subtlety with which he approaches his craft, never making anything explicitly clear until he needs to. This quiet study of grief digs deep long after the credits roll, forcing viewers to question their own approach towards mortality, especially that of our loved ones.