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  • Brandon MacMurray

Brandon's ShortStick Picks

2023 was a very exciting year for us at ShortStick. We started this site not knowing where it would take us. We covered some amazing festivals throughout the year, taking in hundreds of shorts along the way. We had a blast doing shortlist predictions for the Oscars where over 50% of our predictions came true, significantly beating out other news sources like Variety. ShortStick is a passion project, all of us have full-time careers or studies outside of what we do here. The support and embrace from those in the short film circuit has been very touching. Thank you to all the filmmakers, producers and PR who have taken the time to trust us with and send us your work. We are excited for what 2024 brings as we look forward to continue to do our best to shine a light on some of the best in short film. Here are my ten picks of favourite films that didn't make the shortlist and that we didn't have a chance to highlight as much as we wanted.

-Brandon MacMurray

Lamb, dir. Sinéad O'Loughlin

If you are like me and love movies that stress you out and keep you at the edge of your seat the whole time, Lamb is the short film for you. Eanna Hardwicke puts on a chilling performance that has been one of my favourite performances to watch all year. Fifteen minutes of glorious suspense that all leads to a heart-stopping ending. 

The Waiting, dir. Volker Schlecht

Nature docs never get old for me, especially ones like The Waiting where it discusses an issue in an ecosystem I have never heard about. The Waiting uses minimalist yet intricate animated drawings to accompany a voiceover of a biologist describing her research on frogs. Both informative and mesmerizing to look at, this short had me wrapped up in it the whole time. 

07:15 Blackbird, dir. Judith Auffray

There is not much more that I can say about this short film other than it is a complete vibe, specifically geared towards my interests. Sitting down with my coffee one morning, on one of my few days off this year and watching this was one of the most relaxing moments of 2023 for me. My wife and I got super into bird watching over the pandemic so this niche topic had me hooked. This documentary follows an old hermit and young girl as they hear a call of an unknown bird and try to find it, searching through forests and an abandoned mine. 

My Brother is Deaf, dir. Peter Kimball

Director Peter Kimball had a really great year in short film, helming two projects that both qualified for Oscars, My Brother is Deaf in documentary short and Millstone in Live Action Short. My Brother is Deaf is a very sweet documentary short that follows a five year old boy as he is learning sign language to help communicate with his little brother who is deaf. The issues facing hearing parents/family of deaf children are very near and dear to Peter's heart and you can tell that with the honesty in which he directs this short with. By letting 5 year old Lincoln share his experiences he has with his 2 year old deaf brother Bennett, he allows Lincoln to shine his thoughts in a simplistic but effective way. Lincoln's childlike love for his brother is something everyone could use a little piece of in their lives. 

Tuulikki, dir. Teemu Nikki

Tuulikki was a short that really caught me off guard. A short that seems straight forward at first glance but as the uneasiness grows, you think you are going down one road only to find yourself completely somewhere else. I don’t mean to be cryptic with my description but to explain too much about it, surely ruins the film. One of best written shorts I saw this year, with a plot line that I fell for hook, line and sinker. 

The Golden West, dirs. Tom Berkeley, Ross White

The Golden West is the latest from directors Tom Berkeley and Ross White after their highly successful and Oscar-winning short, An Irish Goodbye. In this western with a dark flair, we find two sisters who have fled the great famine in search for gold. As the feud builds between the two sisters, so does the palpable tension you feel, all the way to a stellar ending. The Golden West reminded me a lot of something The Coen Brothers would direct and feels like something that would fit right into their The Ballad of Buster Scruggs anthology.

Among the Sirens, dir. Vince Williams

This inspiring doc short follows the Ukrainian para-badminton team as a whole, but most specifically athlete and world champion Oksana Kozyna. Vince Williams does a fantastic job of showing the passion of the players as they fight on the court while dealing mentally with the fact that Ukraine is being invaded by Russia. 

George, dir. Matt Richmond

I feel like every city, the ones I have lived in at least, have at least one business owner that everyone knows and loves. George Manias of Peoria, Illinois epitomizes that feeling for his city. George has operated a shoe shine shop for 76 years in this town, ever since he escaped Nazi occupation of Crete. The short is more than just a story about who George is. It gets you thinking about not only where you call home, but who the people are that make it feel like home. 

Crab, dir. Piotr Chmielewski

Crab was one of my personal favourite animated shorts on the year. It qualified for the Oscars after winning at Edmonton Film Festival. With using paper mâché stop motion puppet animation as a unique form to tell the story, this short puts you right into the perspective of a crab as we discover the world he lives in and the danger that awaits. 

An Example, dir. Selma Sunniva

I had the pleasure and honour of being a jury member for live action shorts at the AODR festival this year. With a lot of great shorts in competition this is the short film we unanimously chose as our jury prize winner. An Example brilliantly uses a one-shot approach to tell the story of a nurse arriving for her shift at a psychiatric facility. It expertly uses the space and layout of the facility to weave characters in and out of the story as the stress of their work day increases. 



The short end of the stick: The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal

When it comes to cinema and the Oscars it always feels like short films and getting the short end of the stick. Lack of coverage, lack of predictions from experts and an afterthought in the conversation. With this site we hope to change that, highlighting shorts that stick with you, predictions, and news on what is happening in the world of shorts. 

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