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10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For

A selection of 10 recent short films that have excited, thrilled and made us cry this past year that you should watch out for.


There are many short films released over the space of a year. They’re often made by new filmmakers and find their footing on the festival circuit, which is prime space for a short film and its filmmaker to find an audience. Sometimes filmmakers release their film via streaming or through a multitude of different avenues. So from those avenues we present 10 fantastic short films that you should watch out for. From a lovingly animated Turkish market to the remnants of sanity that unravel after a family car trip, the films below remind us of how bright the future of the film industry is with these talented filmmakers at the helm of a new generation. 


Ten Short Films to Look Out For

1. ROUND TWO (RUNDE TO)

Director: Frøydis Fossli Moe
Country: Norway
Festival: NEIFF 

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: Round Two (JMG Stories)

This short film by Norwegian director Frøydis Fossli Moe tackles the grey areas of consent. When a first date goes back to the bedroom, things between the couple turn from a blossoming romance underscored by some gorgeous ephemeral tinklings into a situation that is waving the red flags as the titular round two occurs. This short won the F-rated audience award at 2023’s NEIFF, achieving similar discussion points on consent in 11 minutes than what 2023’s Cannes Un Certain Regard winner How To Have Sex does in its 98 minute runtime.

In a Q&A, Moe described the conversations that have sprung from the film, in that the men watching don’t realise that the actions of the man in the film were wrong. The film finds itself changing those perspectives, one man at a time. This is a gem of a short film that shows Moe as a determined filmmaker, and one that has the restraint to let her film say everything it needs to.


2. THE MÖBIUS TRIP

Director: Simone Smith
Country: United Kingdom
Festival: Sunderland Shorts

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: The Möbius Trip (Simone Smith)

This short film seems to have appeared in every film festival on the British Isles and for good reason (festival programmers have good taste!). Scottish filmmaker Simone Smith achieves the filmic equivalent of a 17-minute anxiety attack in this rapturously shot short film. With a desaturated colour palette, cinematographer Nick Cooke captures a dysfunctional family on route to a wedding as they take a turn down psychosis lane. Invasive close ups and oblique angles makes this car journey an unsettling trip, to say the least. A well deserved slot on the BIFA Longlist for Best Short Film and one of the best short films of the year.


3. SCRUMPY

Director: Dan Holmwood
Country: Ireland
Festival: Cambridge Film Festival

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: Scrumpy (Reprimand Productions)

Dan Holmwood’s brilliant 9-minute short Scrumpy puts every Wes Anderson TikTok to shame. Indebted to the auteur only in tone and visual stylings, Holmwood jokingly presents his pun-laden film in ScrumpyScope as we are swiftly submerged into the diary entry of young Scumpy (Arlo Buchanan) explaining the reasons behind him not enjoying his birthday anymore. The short is slyly emotional, taking big comical swings that then retract for an evocative gut punch. If Brian DePalma can famously use Hitchcockian stylistic choices but stay his own self, Holmwood can borrow traits of Anderson and maintain his own whimsical identity. That this short film was lost and subsequently reshot from scratch shows that Holmwood is a director who is resilient, and has the passion to make his art no matter what the circumstances.


4. MUM’S SPAGHETTI

Director: Lisa Kenney
Country: United Kingdom
Festival: Sunderland Shorts

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: Mum’s Spaghetti (NFTS)

One of the sharpest, funniest animated shorts of the year. Not a single frame is wasted in Lisa Kenney’s stop-motion brilliance as an aspiring teenage MC succumbs to peer pressure. Mum’s Spaghetti has enough charm bursting from every spaghetti strand to make Aardman envious. Kenney, a recent graduate of the National Film and Television School, earned the title of Most Promising Student and the work on show proves this isn’t a title given lightly. It’s not just a case that this short is so much fun, but that it feels created by someone who loves what they do and respects the craft. The sky is barely the limit for Kenney. 


5. KILLING BORIS JOHNSON

Director: Musa Alderson Clarke
Country: United Kingdom
Festival: Cannes

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: Killing Boris Johnson (NFTS)

Musa Alderson-Clarke’s short took the coveted position of Best Short Film out of the Cannes Film Festival in 2023. It chronicles the inner turmoil of a man, Kaz (Shadrach Agozino), in a spiral of grief post-Covid, juxtaposed with the failings of a conservative government and that of the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Using evocative imagery of its protagonist, donned in a Boris Johnson face mask with a gun to his own head, Alderson-Clarke’s film is apoplectic, unflinching and raw as it parallels the British public’s feelings on governmental neglect.


6. STARLING

Director: Mitra Shahidi
Country: Turkey/USA
Festival: Tribeca

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: Starling (Mitra Shahidi)

After working as a story artist at Pixar since 2017, Mitra Shahidi finally gets her directorial debut. It’s an intimate, poignant animation that is close to Shahidi’s heart, bringing her Turkish upbringing to the big screen in a loving way. When a mother and father are wishing upon a star, the spirit of their late daughter transforms into that very star (Shahidi herself providing the tiny sounds the star speaks), shooting down from the heavens to return to her parents on her birthday. Gorgeously animated with every vibrant second filled with charm and emotion

Taking the best lessons of Pixar’s finest works, Shahidi’s delightful short manages to show her ability in taking a simple premise and executing it with the fine precision of a filmmaker with vast directorial experience. The short was endorsed by Whoopi Goldberg for official selection at Tribeca, going on to win Best Animated Short at the festival. 


7. A PLUS

Director: Michael P Spencer
Country: United Kingdom
Festival: Aesthetica

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: A Plus (Michael P Spencer / The Keep)

A short short film is one to be admired. Oftentimes, young directors find indulgence their go-to choice as they don’t have faith in their story. That is not the case with Michael P Spencer’s A Plus, a lean and brisk thriller-comedy that feels over in a blink of an eye at just over 7 minutes including credits. Spencer has a distinct eye for deceptive framing, getting audiences primed for one of the best rug-pulls that a short film like this can offer. Spencer doesn’t feel like he’s trying to do something out of his wheelhouse, but instead is using the amicable charm of his own personality to embody the film. It’s a bit brazen, utterly brilliant and ever-so-slightly ballsy, with a fantastic child performance from Pebble Lilly Leslie. This got the justifiably biggest laugh out of any short film I saw this year. 


8. IN YOUR HANDS

Director: Luigi Sibona
Country: United Kingdom
Festival: NEIFF

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: In Your Hands (MTV)

Luigi Sibona carves out a terrific short film on the fragility of queer masculinity as a barber (Darryl Foster) and his well intentioned free wet shave arouses a stranger’s (Frankie Wilson) subconscious, sinister desires. With help from Hollie Buhagiar’s swooning turned terror-stricken score, this razor-sharp horror short won the audience award at NEIFF. Slick, sensual and satisfyingly esoteric, this short took my breath away with its audacious filmmaking. Not one to watch with the folks.


9. ETERNAL HOURGLASS

Director: Joanna Vymeris
Country: United Kingdom
Festival: Sunderland Shorts

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: Eternal Hourglass (Joanna Vymeris )

Mesmeric filmmaking and slick editing make Joanna Vymeris’ short film Eternal Hourglass an almost transportive experience. The past regrets of an elderly woman flicker before her, presenting themselves as a muddle of faces and blurred televisual tricks as she is transported back to her acrobatic youth, when far-right ideology prevented her from being with the person she loved. The literal sands of time flitter away as she can do nothing but fall prey to regret and misery, her failure to keep her loved one safe amidst danger a repressed penance, her payment of which is forever remorseful in death.

Vymeris does so much with so little, casting dark shadows across her antagonists and utilising the grand space allocated by the theatre setting to sell the scope of this story. It’s a stunning short that uses little dialogue to great effect. Vymeris’ past history with displacement emboldens this short with a real sense of conviction and confidence behind her images. 


10. FIREFLY

Director: Anne-Marie Scragg
Country: United Kingdom
Festival: Cambridge Film Festival

10 Recent Short Films to Watch Out For: Firefly (Anne-Marie Scragg)

Making great use of the Cornish landscape where this is set, Anne-Marie Cragg’s short film Firefly at first seems like a simplistic Cinderella story of maternal abuse. But from the chrysalis of trauma emerges a sweet story that has an increasing sense of contempt underneath it for the system that allows ableism and abuse to thrive, but refrains from didactically telling it.

When the father of a young deaf girl Frankie (over three different ages; Olivia Pickering, Francesca De Courcy and Libby Welsh) leaves to go work on an oil rig due to increased cost of living concerns, young Frankie is left with an increasingly abusive step-mother in this short film that wears its heart on its sleeve. From a fantastically curated soundscape which dips to a droning hum to indicate Frankie’s perspective, to its perfectly honed empathetic editing choices, this wonderful short emerges as one of the best films I saw this year.

Materialising from Scragg’s own history in working with domestic abuse charity Cheshire Without Abuse and from her speaking to various deaf people about their experiences, Scragg’s warm film feels like the perfect tonic against the harsh tribulations of life while trying to incite a much needed change in how we can assimilate disabilities into lives.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

I LOVE YOU, GUYS

Director: Billie Melissa Rogan
Country: United Kingdom
Film Festival: N/A

The debut short film from Billie Melissa Rogan, a recent graduate from New York’s prestigious The New School, marks a filmmaker who seems like she is already perfectly attuned with her craft as her sharp, expressive images find deep wells of emotion. This short film explores a young musician Sky (Becky Bush) and her bouts of depression. The film has flecks of imposter syndrome scattered amongst it, as Sky’s hesitations in emerging out onto a stage occur after a break up. I Love You, Guys is dazzling and full of emotion, while showcasing the talented Rogan as a very exciting prospect in the future of young British filmmakers. 

ORIGINAL SKIN

Director: Mdhamiri Á Nkemi
Country: United Kingdom
Film Festival: NEIFF

Mdhamiri Á Nkemi’s BFI backed short film is a prime example of a film that exists as proof of concept rather than a fully fledged whole. There’s a vagueness to the picture that is briskly solved by the synopsis. Still, the future is bright for Nkemi, who captures an intoxicating, nightmarish vision of an alter-world in ineffaceable fashion and the strengths of the film lie with its thorny themes of transition and queer freedom. Nkemi is a young filmmaker whose images thrill and excite and I cannot wait for their next film

GOOD EGG

Director: Mitra Shahidi
Country: USA
Festival: N/A

Good Egg is the second entrant for Pixar story artist Mitra Shahidi in this article. A young woman is thrust into fertility treatments on her quest to become a mother in live-action short film Good Egg, one of the funniest, sweetest and most chaotically brilliant short films I saw all year. Hoping that Shahidi can find an audience for this short, an exuberant riot that shows Shahidi isn’t just a great animation director but has directorial vision and skills that translate across mediums.

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