Featured Animated Short: Life with Herman H. Rott

In a world saturated with new technologies, constantly changing the playing field within the animation industry, it’s refreshing to find something that not only resembles a style of ole but also offers a charming story and set of personalities that feel vaguely reminiscent of TV characters from my youth. Like an odd couple vying for the most annoying spot in each others’ lives, "Life with Herman H. Rott" gives us a rat-cat music loving duo that are anything but normal. Herman is a black rat, large and in charge - a dirty, rough-edged smoker with a penchant for rock music. One day, a quite clean little classical music loving white cat, dainty and meticulous, waltzes through his door with everything she owns, changing his entire world. A battle of space, music, personality and dominance plays out, resulting in an animalistic comedy of errors battle that builds up until it explodes in a very human way. Maybe rat and cat are not so different from each other or from us, eh? Hand drawn on paper and shot with a photo camera, all of the coloring here was done digitally, giving the animation a sort of mid-century, cyan faded film look. There’s a dreamy edge to the film - everything communicated with music and their dueling styles. In that way, the soundtrack is a third character, bringing life to our two characters and filling the void between them with something a human audience can connect with. Something else humans can understand? Well, according to Estonian filmmaker Chintis Lundgren, the rat and cat are stand-ins for how humans function in unhealthy relationships, seeking out the bad guys, forcing them to change, and then moving onto the next challenge when there’s nothing left to manipulate. The nice guys finish last, isn’t that what they say? What doesn’t finish last is this film. A pure gem and true winner deserving of all the medals and accolades it has earned on the festival circuit and online. A funky little animation with a heart of gold and an unexpected ending well worth checking out!  

Time Travel, Secrets & Love Converge in "One Shot"

A grand, cyclical plot greets viewers going into the Young-wook Paik’s South Korean short ‘One Shot’.  If an audience can engage with that ongoing filmic style, getting closer to the characters as they become lost within the repetition, it will be amazing time investment for them.  ‘One Shot’ is like a time traveling rollercoaster - simply fun to watch.  The film focuses on the relationship between Dongwook and his friend Hyewon, the object of his unrequited love, as they dine together. As Dongwook is startled to discover Hyewon is secretly dating one of his coworkers, the two enter into a repetitive cycle of time travel, do-overs and ignorance.  With the help of a special elixir offered by one of the restaurant's waiters, the characters find themselves reliving the big plot reveal over and over again to somewhat melancholic effect.  With spot on timing, the highlight of this Korean short is its script and pacing.  Though the film pretty much consists of three characters having the same conversation multiple times in a row (with minor differences), director Young-wook Paik somehow manages to make this gimmick extremely engaging.  We are on the edge of our seats, calm, subdued and aware, like we too are a part of this “never-ending story”, waiting for something…anything…to happen.  That “something” may never get there, but the way the film is left open-ended is an extremely effective device from a highly skilled filmmaker. Fun and creatively inspiring in its style, be sure to give this time travel short a watchLike this film? Be sure to check out more awesome shorts now on Indie Street!

Incredible Music Machine Powered By 2,000 Marbles

Fan of the fantastic, musical and downright strange? Be sure to check out the Wintergatan Marble Machine. Built by Swedish musician Martin Molin, this insane handmade machine powers up a drum, vibraphone, bass, and other instruments using a hand crank and...well, 2000 marbles. This one has to be seen to be believed! With millions of views and counting, be sure to get in on the viral fandom and watch the video of the machine in action here!

'FLURGSTÅRGG' Translates IKEA Struggles & Love

When willingly purchasing furniture from IKEA, you go in knowing that you are paying for the experience. What is the experience, you may ask? It’s knowing that you had some hand in building your sleek, minimalistic new piece of furniture that is both cool and run-of-the-mill at the same time. You are paying for the chance to put your blood, sweat and tears (or just hours of enduring aggravating, swear-word inducing puzzle-making) into completing and enjoying the final product. So what if everyone else has the same bed!? You “built” this one yourself!  Worth it or not, the IKEA-experience has become a sort of universally recognised, shared phenomena within middle-class society. Filmmaker John Wikstrom’s super-short “FLURGSTÅRGG” is probably the most honest (and maybe the only) film that truly shows the hilarious yet sadly destructive nature of trying to build furniture with only your hands, some tools and a half-Swedish instruction manual. In this semi-realistic comedy, a couple is trying to put together their new Hemnes bed frame from IKEA. As they bicker and struggle with the build, the subtext of the film literally presents itself in the form of bold yellow subtitling that proves that our lovers are internally struggling with far more than a bed frame. IKEA only temporarily hides the real elephant in the room. Do these two even want the same life? Join the IKEA struggle and watch this pretty much perfect, spot on super-short now on Vimeo.  While you’re at it, check out some more of the best (and free) short films on the web.

Absurd and unexpectedly creepy, creative duo Terri Timely’s newest SXSW winner “Dollhouse” is a profile doc that studies real life vs imitated life so well that the end result is something darkly humorous and enjoyable at the same time. Their subject? Artist Kate Charles, a sort of babydoll-maker that specialises in insanely life-like African-American “reborns”. Strangely enough, despite being Caucasian, Charles finds mimicking the skin tones of African-American babies much more suitable to her skill level. Literally cooking faux-baby parts in an oven, both Charles’ deadpan delivery and tender way of recreating lifelike newborns is both strange and unintentionally hilarious. While profile docs have inundated the market as the “new cool thing” so much so that they are already feeling backlash from the industry, this 7 min profile is far from the sell out branded content and one note subjects the genre has seen so much of recently. Winner of the Special Jury Recognition in the Documentary Shorts category at the 2016 SXSW Festival, Terri Timely have proven that a great subject, well paced filmmaking and the inherent emotions of an audience are all you need to make an engaging doc.  Fresh off its win at SXSW, “Dollhouse” is now available via The New Yorker’s Screening Room. At only 7 minutes long, this creepy, funny little babydoll film is well worth the watch! Like this film? Why not check out more hilarious (and free!) shorts on Indie Street!

Short Review: But I'd Really Have to Kill You

It's officially Spring. The flowers are blooming. Baby animals are being born. There's an overall jovial spirit in the air. I had a really great weekend, and well, if I say anymore, I'm gonna have to kill you. *cue laughter* Actually, I'm kidding.  I'll tell you. With no catch as well. This weekend I watched 'But I'd Really Have to Kill You', and it's no joke that it's a hilarious little film. While there's no deeper substance to this short other than a funny break down on a commonly used phrase, it's still a darn witty story born from a quick one liner that somehow becomes a seriously strong foundation for the entire film. Filmmaker Max Sherman is a wickedly talented guy with a lot of high calibre work and commercials under his belt. With excellent delivery, Ben York Jones and Tim Baltz are a well cast, great and awkward duo. So, sure, next time someone gives you the silly ultimatum of telling you vs killing you, have a chuckle and move on. But be warned, you might want to look over your shoulder or look under the bed at night. You never know, they could be a deadly ninja hell bent on destroying your life. Be safe and give this one a watchLike this film? Why not check out more hilarious (and free!) shorts on Indie Street!

Suburbia Gets Cutthroat in 'Triangles of Happiness'

In Jannick Dahl Pedersen's hilariously satirical yet slightly uncomfortable comedy 'Triangles of Happiness', Hanne and Carsten are two parents that are trying desperately to keep up the illusion of perfect familial bliss amongst their nosy neighbors. In order to keep up this facade of upper middle class wealth, they must sacrifice most everyday comforts. Inside the glossy shell of their house is a dark, depressive space, devoid of any inkling of stability - a complete contrast to the image they project. We slowly start to see that everyone else in the neighborhood sees the superiority of happiness and material wealth as a cut throat competition, leading Hanne, Carsten and their son to stop at nothing to stay ahead in this competition. Be warned, we mean nothing...! This is a seriously well crafted short - smart, funny, absurd and chillingly reminiscent of reality in all the right places. Winner of multiple festival awards, this is a Danish film well worth the praise. Pedersen has given it a modern yet nostalgic look and feel to it that, though Danish, seems to fit ideals so American you can almost imagine this happening within any funny little corner of our country's suburbia. Let's just hope this isn't happening right next door! Make your neighbors happy and give this underrated gem a watch!  While you're at it, why not check out more of the best (and free!) short films on the web.

Office Hijinks Get Personal in 'Drawcard'

From finalist at Tropfest Australia 2016 to just recently being picked up by Short of the Week, it’s no wonder director Antonio Oreña-Barlin’s ‘Drawcard’ is finding success within the short film world. To be frank and put it quite simply, it’s hilarious. Balancing comedy with real (comic) character development in only 7 minutes makes this one an absolute gem.  Pictures often express so much more than simple words can say. However, office worker Ed learns the hard way that it’s sometimes better to just shut up, put the marker down and put dignity first. When his lighthearted office prank, that he thinks is directed towards the farewell card of his foul mouthed co-worker, ends up in the hands of his grieving boss, things turn for….well, both the worse and the best?! I won’t give it away because the twist at the end is absolutely worth the watch. As Crazy Town’s throwback tune "Butterfly" plays over the credits, you’ll be hard pressed to find a film that utilizes lyrics in a more brilliant way.  Expertly acted and executed, ‘Drawcard’makes a vulgar topic rather multi-dimensional in the best of ways. Oreña-Barlin also wrote a fascinating article about his film, screening it at Tropfest and why short films are a crucial medium. Take a gander at his article here and be sure to watch the hilarious final product here

The Absurd Yet Touching 'Love & Other Chairs'

With a touch of style, sensitivity and a little bit of bubble-gum pop flair, 'Love & Other Chairs' tells the story of a man desperate for love. Naturally, this would be in the form of a woman.  I must clarify the "woman" part here because it seems our main character, Julian, has a bit of a problem.  You see, every woman he meets or falls in love with.....turns into a chair.  As the famous saying goes: "Behind every great man is a woman."  Well, in this case, behind (or underneath) every great man is a chair.  Director Christopher Bevan has created a nicely stylised and well-paced, funny little film here. Absurd and quirky yet touching with a dash of sadness, it hits all the right buttons and sort of lingers after viewing. I highly suggest pulling up a "chair" and giving this one a watch!

Short Review: 'Sold' Shames the Closet Narcissist We All

'Sold' is a film that sort of functions like a mirror when you are at your ugliest.  You don't want to see what is in front of you but you can't stop staring.  In stating this, it's not that 'Sold' is an ugly or terrible film, it's just that it is about very retable human behavior that is not so attractive.  This hilarious short tells the story of a man that personifies every stereotype of someone starting out in the film industry - someone unknowingly at the peak of their most annoying moments and habits.  If you have experienced similar feelings and situations, you can probably (sadly) see yourself or someone you know in this character.  Just scroll through the comments left on its Vimeo page - many agree with the scary, funny and somewhat uncomfortable reality of the film. Despite the narcissism of the character and his annoying, repetitive qualities, everything about 'Sold' works really well because it all feels very real. Even with the slight exaggeration. It does that sort of undercover, guerilla style filmmaking very well and uses the camera and characters in a really effective way.  Micah Van Hove (Director of 'Menthol') interviewed filmmaker Jordan Firstman and it's a really interesting read into how the film came about. For anyone in the film industry or for anyone with ambitions to succeed in any way really, 'Sold' is a humorous little film well worth the watch - if only for the funny feeling of guilt and self-realisation that may wash over you afterwards!

Short Feature 'Trump Rally': Political Pride or Circus

After the success of his previous documentaries, Sean Dunne’s signature style of allowing the subjects of his films to present themselves open and honestly, without agenda or heavy-handed direction, is once again on display in his new short, "Trump Rally". Dunne’s current subject? The most divisive presidential candidate in recent history: Donald Trump. Oh, and don’t forget his legion of, well…passionate supporters. Taking to a recent Trump rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dunne and friends whipped out their cell phones and decided to make a rather observational short documentary on the spot. An efficiently and aptly titled film, there’s no grand display of fancy filmmaking or fuss here. This is simply about observing fully loaded subjects through a quick, honest medium. And however observational the camerawork is, Dunne’s all-seeing cell phone cameras were surrounded by a fascinating melting pot of political POV’s that definitely steer the film. Even without trying to portray an agenda, the cameras show the truth - and with that, the insanity as well. Whether this subject and its people make you cringe or feel a swelling sense of American pride, the potential fate of our good ol’ American red, white and blue is on full display here. Like when we were younger and wanted the best rides at the fair to never end, after a quick 21 minutes, Dunne has us simultaneously wanting out and wanting more of this eye-opening mayhem.Join the “debate” by watching the new short here and be sure to check out Dunne’s other films, Florida Man and Oxyana, now up on Indie Street!