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  • Brandon MacMurray

Pedro's ShortStick Picks

Hey, guys! 

2023 was an amazing year for short films and I had a lot of trouble figuring out this list. I decided to bring a group of shorts that caught my attention somehow throughout the year and also to spotlight some international films that went under the radar. Happy New Year! Thank you for supporting ShortStick and I hope to have you here with us in 2024! So here are my ten picks for this year!

-Pedro Lima

Clean (Directed by Miranda Stern)

In a heartbreaking and vulnerable film, Miranda Stern shows her journey in treating her heroin addiction and exposing all the pain of the process. The 19 minutes of this film are enough to shatter your heart and admire people trying to overcome such difficult times. The film was shortlisted for Best Documentary Short at the 2023 IDA Awards and is available on The New York Times website. 

For People in Trouble (Directed by Alex Lawther)

In his directing debut, actor turned director Alex Lawther builds a dystopic London, where two persons (Emma D’arcy and Archie Madekwe) fall in love amidst political trouble and social revolutions. The film is based on their chemistry and dialogue, which is effective and shows how promising Lawther is as a director. 

I Want to Go Higher (Directed by Amanda Van Hesteran)

One of my favorite lists on letterboxd is the “Nothing Happens Yeah, but the Vibes” list and Amanda Van Hesteran's film can appropriately fit in it. A beautiful short film that reflects the director’s eyes, while she follows her brother and his friends trying to make it in Thailand, while still trying to enjoy their early 20s. It is a mesmerizing piece about the small things in life. 

It Turns Blue (Directed by Shadi Karamroudi)

This SXSW winner of Best Short is a dense and silently violent film about domestic violence and how the ludic imagination can be used to pressure and elude children to avoid further consequences. It is a film about parenting, but also about how impatience affects children's lives. It is an impactful Iranian film.   

Our Males and Females (Directed by Ahmad Alyaseer)

Approaching religious divergences and families in Jordan, this emotional film narrates the story of a father seeing the body of his transgender daughter and having to find a religious leader willing to perform the religious practice of shrouding for her.. It thrives to tell a beautiful story about accepting differences, religion, and gender identity in only 11 minutes of length. 

Pina (Directed by Jérémy Depuydt & Giuseppe Accardo)

A tragic, but beautifully animated film, Pina is about how a young woman’s life is changed suddenly when the mafia in Sicily starts to invade her village and destroy the social structure. Pina is a colorful film that is constructed visually with a dark and dramatic story, while taking the spectator into a journey of pain. A beautiful film. 

Proof of Concept (Directed by Max Cohn & Ellie Sachs)

Part of the Tribeca Film Festival line-up, this 7-minute film jokes about the pretension of young filmmakers when brainstorming and pitching their films with ambitious ideas (a great one is about shooting on film on a lone beach). Besides the great jokes on funding indie shorts and artistic ambition, the performances led by a great Richard Kind make this short an amazing experience. 

Rosemary A.D (Directed by Ethan Barett)

Death is already a taboo subject in many cultures, suicide is an even more complicated topic. In this sense, Rosemary A.D. is a sensitive narrative about a father telling his daughter about his suicidal ideations before her birth. It is an emotional and sincere film that serves mainly as a love letter. It made a huge splash on the festival season this year and unfortunately was forgotten on the animated shortlist this year. 

Tits (Directed by Elvind Landvik)

Narrating a social encounter by teenagers in Norway, the film is about a girl whose jerk boyfriend leaves her behind in the sea without her clothes and the group's outsider is the one who helps her. The focus on empathy and sincere conversation between these different people makes it a sweet and interesting experience. The cherry on the top is the cinematography shot in film, which is gorgeous to look at. It was exhibited in Cannes this year. 

Towards the Night (Directed by Saeed Keshavarz)

A story about coldness, not only about its physicality but also its presence in family relationships. A mysterious film about revenge, the role of women in society, and how society in villages works. It is beautifully shot and has great acting. It participated in the Shorts Shorts lineup, but unfortunately wasn't featured in many other festivals. It's a hidden gem that deserves to be watched. 



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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