The last decade has been not only great for features, but also for short films. The emergence of shorts festivals in the UK such as Underwire (specifically showcasing female talent) and Aesthetica, have accompanied more established events such as Sundance and SXSW on the calendar, leading to a renaissance in indie short-form film-making.
Below are some of the best from the last decade from exciting female filmmakers, many of whom are now working on debut features and bigger projects.
Links to watch all of the films can be found in the article.
Hypebeasts dir. Jess Dela Merced
This incredible short is heavily inspired by Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, and even written with mentorship from the legendary director himself. Three Filipino American sneakerheads are subjected to racist abuse while queuing for the latest hot shoe release. Sharp storytelling with hugely sympathetic characters, it immerses you in the ‘hypebeast’ world and specifically the cultish obsession with sneakers.
Jess Dela Merced is a Filipino American filmmaker from San Francisco. She is currently developing a short for Paul Feig’s new production company, Powderkeg Media, and is also working on her first feature, Chickenshit.
Hypebeasts won the Audience Choice Award at the Fusion Film Festival and the Boston Asian American Film Festival and was named Best Narrative Short at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.
How to be Alone dir. Kate Trefry
An infectious horror short that asks, “what could be worse than me?” A young woman, Lucy, played brilliantly by Maika Monroe (It Follows), is tormented by her inner demons which manifest themselves physically when she is alone at night. Battling her anxiety, paranoia, and fear of the future, Lucy tries to busy herself with classic self care routines like painting her nails, and watching nature documentaries, but her thoughts always turn back to the demons.
Vaporwave-esque neon lighting and tongue in cheek horror humour make the short a really fun viewing, but there’s so much pain beneath the surface that it succeeds in being emotionally affecting.
This is Kate Trefry’s first directing effort, and it premiered at SXSW earlier this year. She is a staff writer on Stranger Things, and a writer on the new R. L. Stine adaptation, Fear Street.
It also features Joe Keery as Lucy’s spouse (the pair are also a real-life couple), with his full Stranger Things haircut, which is always a treat.
The Morning After dir. Lauren Minnerath
A genius, pitch-black comedy set the day after the 2016 presidential election. Nicole is a young woman introducing her black girlfriend to her conservative father over brunch. Tensions inevitably boil over, not least because of the events of the night before. In the end you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The framing device is an untouched cake with icing on top spelling ‘Madam President’, carrying so much poetic irony. The muted and even hazy visuals reflect the sombre mood of the characters, but the dialogue is so sharp it cuts through.
Lauren Minnerath is currently developing a project with End Cue Films, who this year released the critically acclaimed The Art of Self Defense starring Jesse Eisenberg.
Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow dir. Sunday Emerson Gullifer
The most emotionally affecting piece on the list, from celebrated and award-winning director, Sunday Emerson Gullifer. A theatre actress is put under intense pressure, when an eccentric and aggressive auteur director comes in, who wants to put his own “sexy and dangerous” spin on MacBeth.
Matilda Ridgeway as Lizzie gives such a vulnerable performance, it draws you into her pain and makes her eventual triumph euphoric. It’s a visceral story of gendered expectations and how the entertainment industry at large treats women.
Beautiful monochrome visuals convey the struggle that Lizzie finds herself in, worrying that she is trapped, not where she wants to be in her career, and ageing beyond the opportunity to change that. A timely and relevant watch as we still deal with the fallout of the #MeToo movement.
Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, had its international premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, in the Filmmakers of Tomorrow programme, curated by Barry Jenkins and Gregory Nava. Sunday Emmerson Gullifer’s newest short, Broken Line North, premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in June, after two years of development.
by George Westaway
George Westaway is a history student at the University of Nottingham, and an aspiring writer and photographer. They feel most at home with their French Bulldog Reggie, or in a small, dark coffee shop. Their favourite films include Moonlight, Point Break, Skate Kitchen, and Cléo from 5 to 7. They cried after meeting Agnès Varda last year, and their dream is to interview Lynne Ramsay. You can follow them on twitter, @westawaygeorge
Categories: Women Film-makers