Although they are rarely screened outside of film festivals, short films deserve anything but short shrift. These easily digestible mini-movies are often “calling cards” for burgeoning directors who want to showcase their talents in a modest—and modestly budgeted—form. Andrea Arnold (American Honey), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards . . .), and Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) are among those who won Oscars for the shorts they made early in their careers.
Short films may not require the same investment in character development that features do, but viewers' emotions—from joy to sadness to discomfort—can be effectively evoked nevertheless. Indeed, short films can be more satisfying than feature films; they are brief, intense snippets of a larger world, offering a dramatic slice of life or a simple joke, eloquently told. A good short film works with quiet efficiency to hook viewers, carry them through the story, and deliver a satisfying payoff; the best shorts prompt us to reassess our conceptions of cinema.
This seminar will showcase a handful of recent, dramatic short films that highlight the strengths of the format. Exploring shorts like “Canoe Poems” (2017), “Fry Day” (2017), “Great Light” (2018), and “Little Potato” (2017) will leave students with a greater appreciation of this underestimated format.