Featured Animated Short - ei: emotional intelligence

"As E.I. units, we are doomed to love."  Poignant words from the narrated thoughts of an artificial lifeform. But in "ei: emotional intelligence", filmmaker Dennis Sungmin Kim's first year film at the University of Pennsylvania, we aren't just dealing with the simple concept of artificial intelligence. No, this is about something much deeper than that - going beyond what you would expect from the normal concept of A.I. on film. "ei: emotional intelligence" is a seriously impressive feat that succeeds so beautifully within its uniquely delicate animated style and story. And how does it manage to stand out? By injecting the A.I. concept with something novel yet really, very simple: emotions.  Representing far more than robotic and lifeless technology, this animation follows the story of Arthur and his female companion, two E.I. units - AKA Emotional Intelligence units - that try to live and feel beyond the confines of their created existence. Going a step further than their otherworldly IQ's, mathematical way of thinking, and futuristic, virtual landscapes, their story plays out like a love letter to humankind and where we may be headed. And it does so in such a honest way, with words building a world around the colors and lines of sweet, colorfully stylistic animation. Complementing the impressive gadgetries of A.I. are real emotions - the ones that challenge us, make us weak and eventually give us strength.  Like a rhythmic poem or a finely crafted classical tune, "ei: emotional intelligence" relaxes its viewers through its narration - covering a wide spectrum of thoughts and feelings along the way. We promise you those feelings will keep echoing long after the last frame. With his pulse on great personal design and unique narrative style, Dennis Sungmin Kim's ten month endeavour turned into a first year film that ) he should be extremely proud of and ) you should watch right now!  And while you're at it, why not check out more of the best short films on the web! 

"Symphony no. 42" Takes Journey into the Surreal

Surreal, abstract, experimental, trippy, otherworldly - there are many words you can use to describe Réka Bucsi’s 2014 Oscar shortlisted animation, “Symphony no. 42”. The animated short showcases 47 different scenes that attempt to observe and portray the irrational interplay between humans and nature. As her ambitious and successful graduation film, the 10 minute mini-journey into an absurd world where animals and humans connect and disconnect is, like a symphony, a masterpiece and ode to something far greater then the visuals on screen. The dozens of seemingly random scenes feel as if they’ve been composed as a whole, and when “performed” together back to back, they make something bizarre, often funny and always profound in some way you can’t quite put your finger on. Beautifully animated with pops of deep, saturated colors, Bucsi’s film simultaneously feels as if it is about our whole world as well as nothing at all. An existential journey where foxes shoot themselves and penguins sing, you can watch the surreal adventure now online. And stay tuned for her newest piece “Love”, which is currently traveling the festival circuit now!  Like this film? Be sure to check out some of the best shorts on the web!

"100 Years/100 Shots" Takes on Film History

Filmmaker (or in this case, Editor) Jacob T. Swinney’s recent supercut, 100 Years/100 Shots, is a pretty amazing compilation of some of the most memorable shots from the past 100 years of cinema. This montage of iconic moments in film history just screened as part of the Tribeca N.O.W. segment at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. From “Birth of a Nation” to “The Wizard of Oz”, “Citizen Kane” to “Psycho”, “Jaws” to the recent “Mad Max: Fury Road”, many incredible moments are displayed in Swinney’s impressive cut - moments ingrained in most film lovers' memories. Check it out and see how many of the iconic scenes you recognise from our evolving century of film! 

'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!