Nourish your mind: the 31-day short film diet for January | Short films

January can really feel like the longest month: a full 31-dayer to start with, in fact, but in addition inordinately stretched by its sense of fixed renewal. New resolutions to be stored, new requirements to be met, new taxes to be filed – and that’s earlier than we think about Omicron, which appears set to make it an particularly testing begin to the 12 months. All in all, it’s a superb time to research new methods to entertain ourselves and nourish our minds.

Cue the 31-day short film diet, a sequel to final January’s much-loved literary diet. This one-a-day starter pack – to type a special, extra pleasurable form of new 12 months behavior – is geared toward enriching our lives, not depriving it of small joys. Most of us don’t consider ourselves as common watchers of short films per se, although we may be with out realising it: what’s a YouTube cat video, in any case, if not a short film of some description?

We’ve stored to a broad remit in defining short films for this assortment. Some are cinematic by design, others made by and for cellphones. There are works by big-name film-makers corresponding to David Lynch and Lynne Ramsay, whereas viral stars corresponding to Mufasa function alongside musical headliners together with Beyoncé and Thom Yorke.

Excessive distinction is the aim: should you really feel disoriented transitioning from an animated Nazi-hunter thriller sooner or later to an ebullient viral dance video the subsequent, all the higher to maintain you on your toes.


What the shorts do have in widespread, we hope, is a sure spirit-lifting sensibility. They’re not all essentially feelgood or inspirational in the standard sense (although some, like the Netflix triumph-over-adversity doc Zion, actually meet that temporary), however all of them supply a stimulating dose of magnificence, invention, expansive considering or occasional concentrated pleasure. We’ve tried to stay to free content material – although some require a Netflix subscription or trial, or a free sign-up to Vimeo – and to steer away from outright downers, however themes of loss, prejudice and the local weather are woven via in sudden methods. Completely happy watching, and joyful new 12 months.

So, it’s New Yr’s Day, you is likely to be feeling a tad delicate, and what you want is a soothing bit of lovely whimsy to ease into 2022. Argentine director Juan Solanas’s unexpectedly tender, retro-futuristic mini-romance is simply the ticket, regardless of its seemingly morbid premise of a headless man in search of love and self-completion. Seems the head isn’t every thing.

2 January
Taking Stock (Duncan Cowles, 4 minutes)

At a free finish professionally, an aspiring documentary film-maker resolves to make a simple buck by taking pictures inventory footage – whereas drolly speaking us via his fraying mind-set. A witty dedication to any creatives and freelancers who aren’t the place they wish to be in life, and resonant to everybody experiencing the “what am I doing?” January blues.

3 January
Anima (Paul Thomas Anderson, 15 minutes)

Paul Thomas Anderson, whose new film, Licorice Pizza, hits cinemas in January, has lengthy dabbled in music-video directing, making putting clips for the likes of Fiona Apple and Haim. However this Netflix-produced collaboration with Thom Yorke is his most polished and haunting effort in the medium, an in a single day Prague dream odyssey from Orwellian dystopia to mild human contact.

4 January
The Cat Piano (Eddie White and Ari Gibson, 9 minutes)

TS Eliot died on this present day in 1965, and whereas this beguiling Australian animation isn’t a direct tribute to him, one suspects the poet of Outdated Possum’s E book of Sensible Cats would have been charmed by this verse-based, Nick Cave-narrated imagining of the decadent, jazz-hip nightlife of our feline mates. If these guys had made Cats, it might need all labored out.

Olivia Colman in The Kármán Line.
Olivia Colman in The Kármán Line. {Photograph}: Oscar Sharp / Vimeo

This Bafta-nominated short finds an initially absurd however unusually shifting metaphor for the gradual wrench of terminal illness, as Olivia Colman’s middle-class housewife is struck with a uncommon situation that causes her to raise off the floor at an ever-increasing, irreversible price. However that’s not the solely uplift infusing proceedings: there’s magnificence amid the devastation.

6 January
The Driver Is Red (Randall Christopher, 15 minutes)

Animation doesn’t seem to be the apparent medium for a documentary short about the 1960 seize of on-the-run Nazi conflict felony Adolf Eichmann, however with its sharp, austere ink-sketch aesthetic, this gripping mini-thriller proves in any other case. The visuals convey an appropriate sense of subterfuge, but in addition the fragility of historical past, weak to fading and being redrawn.

Prefer it or not, social media dance movies have grow to be their very own generational artwork type, amplified by TikTok throughout the pandemic – although a lot of them are actually so polished and rehearsed that they lose their sense of enjoyable. Scruffily shot, this early viral instance explodes with manic, elated vitality, inviting power repeat viewing. Your weekend begins right here.

8 January
Brown Skin Girl (Beyoncé and Jenn Nkiru, 6 minutes)

A scene from Brown Skin Girl.
A scene from Brown Pores and skin Woman. {Photograph}: Beyoncé/YouTube

Beyoncé upended the type of the music video together with her current sequence of visible albums, merging artwork, activism and the easy pleasures of a superb bop. Exquisitely conceived by the singer herself and British artist Nkiru, this celebratory 2020 ode to the energy and satisfaction in black and brown pores and skin is the most joyful factor she’s made in ages.

9 January
Migrants (Hugo Caby, Zoé Devise, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak and Lucas Lermytte, 8 minutes)

If your environmentally minded New Yr resolutions are already slipping per week into 2022, let this lovely however sneakily gut-wrenching animation renew your resolve. Its story of two polar bears left homeless by world heating, washing up on a verdant however hostile island, is unabashedly manipulative however efficient – and a mild method to clarify the points at hand to younger ones.

10 January
Fish Story (Charlie Shackleton, 14 minutes)

In collaboration with journalist Caspar Salmon, documentary-maker Shackleton unfolds an oft-shared household story that appears too quirky to be true, as Salmon remembers his grandmother attending a Nineteen Eighties gathering for fishy-surnamed folks on the Welsh island of Anglesey. What ensues is a mischievous, wickedly humorous research of how private reminiscence and fantasy are shaped and blurred.

11 January
Zion (Floyd Russ, 12 minutes)

Born with out legs and thrust into the foster system, the place his upbringing was unstable and abusive, Zion Clark lastly discovered his calling in high-school wrestling, rising via the ranks and pursuing Olympic goals. With wealthy Netflix manufacturing values, this short documentary portrait of him wrings each ounce of inspirational pleasure from his story, and you may’t stay unmoved.


The BFI participant is a wealthy supply of free British shorts and archival curios, and this profitable, subtly acerbic 1992 short is certainly one of its treasures – somewhat forward of its time in its good-humoured dialogue of cultural appropriation and diasporic residing, by way of the walking-and-talking of two British-Indian cousins via a timeworn tangle of London streets.

13 January
The Water Diary (Jane Campion, 17 minutes)

With veteran New Zealand film-maker Jane Campion at present driving a recent wave of essential acclaim for the Oscar-tipped The Energy of the Canine, it’s a superb time to revisit this lyrical short from 2006 – starring her personal daughter Alice Englert. A toddler’s-eye perspective on residing via drought, it blends a pertinent message of environmental sustainability with a poetic wisp of magical realism.

14 January
Blue (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 13 minutes)

The Thai auteur specialises in measured, meditative experimental cinema that envelops you in a hazy daze. That’s true of his newest function, the Tilda Swinton-starring Memoria, out in cinemas on 14 January – and of this short, entrancing artwork piece, during which a lady’s insomnia leaves her in a limbo state, licked however not burned by spreading flames.

15 January
Solemates (Bryce Dallas Howard, 1 min)

Bryce Dallas Howard reveals her father Ron’s aptitude for plainly efficient, unapologetically sentimental heartstring-pulling on this one-minute weepie from 2015. It sweetly performs out a life cycle of courtship, marriage and household purely via the footwear – a battered pair of Converse, and a few stylish two-tone derbies, each bearing their very own personalities – worn by two lovers.

16 January
Love Connection (Hendrik Harms, 1 min)

There’s extra to TikTok than dance movies and memes: budding film-makers are utilizing it as a way of demonstrating their storytelling talents on a shoestring. This breezy, sweetly foolish tackle the strains of lockdown courting – full with display screen freezes and collisions – received a one-minute short competitors held by the Raindance film competition. Larger issues could lie forward.

17 January
America (Garrett Bradley, 29 minutes)

As America marks Martin Luther King day, it feels an apt second to savour this extraordinary reevaluation of African-American cinema and pictures from the Oscar-nominated director. Made earlier than Bradley’s breakout function Time, however solely not too long ago made viewable on-line, it traces a strong, illuminating arc from rediscovered black silent cinema to present-day illustration.

‘Perceptive’: Scenes From a Marriage.
‘Perceptive’: Scenes From a Marriage. {Photograph}: THIS AMERICAN LIFE

Cartoonist Ware made this droll short for the radio present This American Life in 2009, and there’s extra to it than meets the eye. Ostensibly a minor anecdote a couple of New York avenue encounter (or not), informed in crucially other ways by a husband and spouse, it swiftly grows right into a perceptive, gendered reflection on unreliable storytelling and reminiscence.

A part of the TateShots short film sequence, this affectionate, illuminating primer on the life and work of the late American summary painter Agnes Martin is guided by the views of curator Frances Morris and artwork vendor Arne Glimcher. “Her portray is the key to the artwork inside you,” says Glimcher: this short reminds us that wanting is usually a artistic act in itself.

It’s American weirdmeister Lynch’s birthday. For those who don’t have time to have fun by watching your favorite function of his, this completely weird short, which has been quietly sitting on Netflix for a number of years now, will do properly. Behind a gauze of cigarette smoke, Lynch himself takes the lead on this one, as a detective interrogating a capuchin monkey accused of homicide. In fact.

21 January
Ten Meter Tower (Axel Danielson and Maximilien van Aertryck, 16 minutes)

The idea for this lauded Swedish short is disarmingly easy and relateably human: repair a digicam on a 10-metre diving platform at an indoor pool, and watch the reactions of assorted would-be divers as they ponder the bounce. Some baulk, some wait, some go for it in superb slow-motion, and the film pulses with their anxiousness and adrenaline.

22 January
A New York Mystery (Samantha Hartsoe, 4 minutes)

Again to TikTok, the ultra-short type of which can be serialised in compelling methods – as with this viral four-part sequence of movies during which a younger girl uncovers a decidedly unsettling portal in her condominium. Shot and narrated with a tongue-in-cheek trace of Blair Witch Venture creepiness, it’s absolutely certain to encourage an extended horror film certainly one of lately. Part 1 /Part 2/ Part 3/ Part 4

23 January
Ticky Tacky (Brian Petsos, 15 minutes)

Between Dune, The Card Counter and TV’s Scenes from a Marriage, the web reached peak Oscar Isaac thirst in 2021, and should you’re nonetheless not happy, this mordant revenge comedy from 2014 is a tart chaser. Staged in a heightened method in a single room, its story of a rich man uncovering numerous intimate betrayals is minor: Isaac’s louche star high quality is the draw right here.

24 January
Anagnorisis (Wim Wenders, 4 minutes)

I used to be unfamiliar with the work of Israeli-born singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan till final 12 months, however a music video directed by the veteran German film-maker is one method to get my consideration. Exactingly staged and composed, the video remembers Wenders’s documentary Pina as a contemporary dance piece interacting with city structure, mesmerisingly carried out by American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith.

25 January
Swimmer (Lynne Ramsay, 17 minutes)

Tom Litten in Swimmer by Lynne Ramsay.
Tom Litten in Swimmer by Lynne Ramsay. {Photograph}: BBC Films, Film4 and the London Organisationing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Video games.

It’s Burns Evening tonight, and whereas we might have chosen one thing explicitly Burns-themed, we’ve opted for a looser interpretation of Scots poetry in movement, courtesy of their biggest working film-maker. Commissioned in 2012 by the London Olympics and ravishingly shot in black and white, it’s a hypnotic, Bafta-awarded odyssey, tracing a lone wild swimmer via Britain’s waterways.

26 January
A Single Life (Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins, Marieke Blaauw, 3 minutes)

This Dutch animation collective nabbed an Oscar nomination for this ingeniously conceived, darkly hilarious stop-motion short, which squeezes a lady’s complete life and a time-travel conceit worthy of Christopher Nolan into three fat-free minutes. Its chronology is dictated by the skips and blips of a single document on a defective turntable – simply don’t let it attain the finish.

27 January
Love (James Gallagher, 11 minutes)

A proficient younger tennis participant is weighed down by strain from his demanding father: the premise of Gallagher’s pristinely shot short guarantees a standard-issue sports activities drama. But the film’s dreamy tone and impressionistic construction defy expectations, and the film emerges as a shifting essay on poisonous masculinity and the right way to defeat it.

The video essay has grow to be a vigorous, expansive different type of film criticism, and Portuguese critic and film-maker Azevedo is certainly one of its foremost practitioners. This valentine to the recurring position of the kitsch kitchen in Pedro Almodóvar’s cinema is a delight, and apt viewing with the Spanish auteur’s newest (and kitchen-tastic) melodrama, Parallel Moms, in cinemas on 28 January.

29 January
Date Night (Reggie Yates, 6 minutes)

Yates’s current debut function, Pirates, was a vigorous, irreverent shock, although his short film work reveals the place his snappy model of comedy got here from. On this one, three contrasting Londoners vent about their numerous reservations about courting and relationships, from dedication phobia to wasted bikini waxes. It boasts a pointy, humorous flip from Daniel Kaluuya in addition.

30 January
Flight (Jonathan Glazer, 1 min)

‘A gravity-free promo’: Jonathan Glazer’s Flight ad.
‘A gravity-free promo’: Jonathan Glazer’s Flight advert. {Photograph}:

We couldn’t full this diet with out one instance of the most prevalent type of short film-making in our lives – the humble TV advert. Admittedly, any advert by the elusive Brit Glazer (set to launch his first function in a decade this 12 months) is a step up from automobile insurance coverage meerkats: this easy, gravity-free Apple Watch promo is a quick blast of chilly recent air.

31 January
Nian (Lulu Wang, 12 minutes)

There’s one thing pleasing about ending a month that started with New Yr’s Day with New Yr’s Eve – Chinese language New Yr’s Eve, that’s. Whether or not or not you have fun, this Apple-backed, holiday-themed short from Chinese language-American director Lulu Wang (The Farewell) will depart you feeling heat and fuzzy, because it reimagines a brand new 12 months folks legend in a youthful modern-day context.

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