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2012: Anna’s Top Ten Short Films

posted by MKE Film on December 26, 2012

OK, it’s back to work! That doesn’t mean you can’t take a short break to read yet another “Best of 2012″ list from our lovely staff. Our Shorts Programmer Anna takes you on a diversion from all the list of feature-length films and offers up her top shorts of the year. Do yourself a favor and seek out these gems.

I was in charge of programming 76 short films playing at the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival and I loved them all equally. Like a momma grizzly bear, I’m fiercely proud of the festival’s shorts programs and the prospect of selecting just ten shorts to include in my year end list was daunting. But “Anna’s Top 76 Short Films” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. So to that end, here are the ones that made the painful cut!

10. The Voorman Problem

(dir: Mark Gill)

As soon as I saw that Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Sherlock) starred in this short, I was prepared to not like it. Something about having big name actors in a short film makes most directors think they don’t have to try as hard. But this short held a delightful thread of suspense going strong all the way up to an ending that would make The Twilight Zone proud.

9. Paradise (Paraiso)

(dir: Nadav Kurtz)

This is a gorgeously-shot documentary about the men who wash the windows of Chicago’s skyscrapers. As they discuss the American dream each are trying to achieve, the short gives them the dignity and respect they deserve while unnerving the audience with shots that follow the men as they dangle from building tops. Congrats to director Nadav Kurtz as he takes this short to Sundance in January!

8. Slow Derek

(dir: Dan Ojari)

I’m a sucker for claymation shorts that transcend the trappings of children’s cartoons, and this short has adult-existential-crisis in spades. So brooding, so meta, so good.

7. Remember Me, My Ghost

(dir: Ross McDonnell)

This heartbreaking documentary features a young Irish woman struggling to provide the best life she can for her children while living in Ballymun, Ireland’s most notorious low-income housing project. The narration is slow and sure, delivering horrific memories in a sing-song Irish accent that will tug at your heartstrings.

6. Ursus

(dir: Reinis Petersons)

This beautiful hand-drawn animation tells an impressively mature and somber tale of loss and longing. And it features a bear riding a motorcycle. It’s a win-win.

5. The Centrifuge Brain Project

(dir: Till Nowak)

Possibly the most number of people sought me out during the festival to tell me how much they enjoyed this short, and I always agreed with them. It’s hilarious, absurd, and just the right amount of disturbing.

4. Sea Meadow

(dir: Lily Baldwin)

Dark forests, creepy houses, sweet dance moves, and a bumping soundtrack are combined in this genre-bending short.

3. The Return (Kthimi)

(dir: Blerta Zeqiri)

The emotional heartache in this short is so palpable I had to remind myself to breath the first time I saw it. I’m not even kidding. The acting, direction, shot composition; everything in this short brilliantly serves to highlight the extreme effects of war on a single family.

2. Bobby Yeah

(dir: Robert Morgan)

After I first saw this short, my immediate thought was, “Is it irresponsible of me to inflict this film on well-adjusted sane adults?” Luckily, I got over any misgivings about not wanting to scar people for life. This is a horrific masterpiece you just have to see for yourself. Be sure you have a strong stomach and a happy place to go to afterward.

1. Rhinos

(dir: Shimmy Marcus)
Love is in the air with this short. But not the sappy, rom-com Lifetime movie kind of love. No, this is life changing, language barrier breaking love. Following an Irishman and a German tourist as they unexpectedly spend the day together, the film wraps you in the comforting arms of a soulmate. The acting is genuine and the editing highlights all the right moments to make a truly sweet little love story, for cynics and hopeless romantics alike.