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  • Brandon MacMurray

Josh's ShortStick Picks

The first year of ShortStick took us to festivals in New York, New Orleans, Ottawa, Toronto, Palm Springs and Hollywood, where we saw films from Indonesia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Costa Rica, Iceland, Réunion, and all around the world. While we have already written about a lot of my favourite films from this year in the categories of animation (La Diplomatie de l’Éclipse, Electra), documentary (Addresses, NYC RGB) and live action (Sèt Lam, We Were Meant To), the explosion of short films released in 2023 meant that we couldn’t possibly cover everything! So, here are ten of my favourite short films of the year, from festival favourites to hidden gems, that we haven’t talked about yet. Thanks for reading, and see you in 2024!

-Joshua Hunt


Director Nikita Diakur tried to do a backflip, and injured himself; so with the help of an A.I. program and a six-core processor, his avatar learns to do one instead. Watching an inhumanly ultra-flexible avatar attempt (and fail) backflip after backflip shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but this is easily one of the most hilarious and creative animated short films of the year. 


backflip can be watched at The New York Times: 



Emotional Arquitecture 1959 

Director León Siminiani tells the story of Sebas and Andrea, university students in 1959, as their social class and ideology became insurmountable obstacles to their love. Siminiani uses the forms and functions of architecture, through photos, maps, blueprints, and precise framing to show how it ends up dictating the characters’ emotion. A fascinating bricolage of style and textures—with hints of Wes Anderson’s symmetrical whimsy—lead the story to unexpected places. 



Galup VR Experience 

The most immersive documentary short of the year is a virtual reality work created by artist/filmmaker Poppy van Oorde-Grainger and theatre-maker Ian Wilkes. Wearing a VR headset, the viewer can explore Lake Monger in Perth, Australia, in a 360-degree view as Elder Doolann-Leisha Eatts recounts an oral history about a massacre that took place there. Galup VR Experience uses cutting-edge technology and traditional storytelling, and examines the destructive nature of colonisation by bringing people together for connection and healing. 



Hardly Working 

Directors Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel, Susanna Flock, and Michael Stumpf use the repetitive tasks performed by non-playable characters, the background extras in the video game Red Dead Redemption, as the jump-off point for their ethnographic exploration of work and daily life. What initially seems like a lark quickly becomes a thoughtful examination about labor loops and activity patterns, which paints a vivid analogy for work under capitalism. 


Hardly Working can be watched at the New York Times: 



Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers 

Using homemade special FX, director Meredith Moore surrounds her grandmother Margie with explosions, rainbows, and sparkling lights as she shares her extensive collection of salt and pepper shakers. The incredibly sincere Margie and her genuine passion for her collection, combined with Moore’s unhinged sense of humor and truly impressive effects work make for a fusion of style and subject unlike anything else this year. 


Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers can be viewed at the New Yorker: 



Palm Sunday 

A story about a young Black Caribbean immigrant who attempts to assimilate into an all-white church in 1970s Raleigh, Wes Andre Goodrich’s tense and impactful southern gothic drama shares similar themes to Get Out but tells them in their own startlingly unique way, with a strong central performance by Justin Winlet. Shot with the inventive nerve of early Spike Lee (that double dolly shot!), Goodrich’s subtly detailed film marks the emergence of a major new voice in American filmmaking. 



Patty vs Patty 

Chris Strikes’ laugh-out-loud funny documentary tells the story of Toronto’s bizarre 1985 “patty wars,” when Jamaican-Canadian bakers went head-to-head with the federal government over the name of their beloved beef patty. Strikes weaves together first-hand anecdotes, archival footage and satirical re-enactments to tell this story of bureaucracy gone amok, community resistance, and delicious pastry.  


Patty vs Patty can be viewed at CBC: 



A Short Story 

Bi Gan’s unclassifiable short film is—apparently—about an abandoned cat embarking on a journey to discover the most precious thing in the world. Whatever plot there is doesn’t matter as much as the succession of incredibly striking images, a burning scarecrow, a woman slurping noodles in her moving house-train, a stage play-in-reverse straight out of Twin Peaks. A Short Story is a beautifully surreal masterpiece from one of China’s most interesting directors.  


A Short Story can be viewed on Mubi 


The debut short film from actress Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire, Station Eleven), WOACA finds a woman, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen (The Duke of Burgundy, Borgen) becoming overwhelmed with her daily skincare routine. To say more would be to spoil the slimy fun, but Knudsen remains one of the best working actresses, and WOACA contains some of the goopiest special effects make-up since Cronenberg’s The Fly. Unexpected in all the best, grossest ways. 


Guillermo de Oliveira’s unpredictable pseudo-documentary Tegoyo finds a scientist returning to the set of Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarves Started Small on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. There, he makes a discovery that is equal parts hilarious and head-scratching. Oliveira’s mix of colour and black-and-white, of past and present, and of fact and fiction—not to mention cameo appearances by Herzog and Jesus—make Tegoyo a bewildering delight.



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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