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    The Element of Surprise: Five Short Films with Unlikely Protagonists

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    The Element of Surprise: Five Short Films with Unlikely Protagonists

    Every year, some 20.000 short films are produced. Since filmmakers often use their own lives as inspiration, many of these films share common themes, and many fall into the same motifs, plot devices, and tropes. As anyone who regularly attends short-films festival can attest, many of the projects screened feel familiar, and offer characters and situations that have been exhaustively seen before. 

    If you’re tired of such recurring scenarios and clichés, look no further than the below superb five short films that feature unexpected and unlikely protagonists, with their unexpected and unlikely stories: 

    ANNA

    Official website

    Genre: Drama
    Running Time: 15’
    Language: Ukrainian, English

    Director: Dekel Berenson
    Release Date:  2019

    In this critically acclaimed short, a middle-aged single mother, Anna, lives in a small industrial town in war-torn Eastern Ukraine and works in a meat processing plant. After listening to a radio advertisement that invites Ukrainian women to attend a party organized for foreign men touring the country in search of love, Anna decides to apply and attend.   

    But Anna is very different from the other women at the party. Not only she might be the oldest there, but her appearance doesn’t match the stereotypical expectations that these men, mainly American, have come herewith. Her underage daughter, who is also attending the party, is more what these foreigners are looking for.

    With bittersweet irony and perfectly-executed satire, “Anna” sheds light on the realities of old age and of western misconceptions and prejudices, masterfully portraying the weight that modern societies put on Ukraine women like Anna. With such a heartfelt message, the film can’t end in any other way than with both Anna and her daughter realizing the absurdity and indignity of the situation, at last abandoning their dream for a better life. 

    Anna premiered in the Cannes Film Festival 19′ and has since won numerous awards. Most recently, the film was nominated for Best Short Film at the prestigious Ukrainian Film Academy Awards (Zolota Dzyga).  Watch the trailer for Anna here

     

    AEROPLANES

    IMDB page

     

    Genre: Drama
    Running Time: 10’
    Language: English

    Director: Paul Shammasian
    Release Date:  2018

    In Aeroplane, a 10-minute short film, a young woman kidnaps an unaccompanied child in the desperate attempt to fulfill her life.

    In pain after the recent loss of her mother in a plane crash, our protagonist takes the child with the intention to fill both herself and the boy’s life with a new purpose. Yet, she will later realize her mistake and have a change of heart, informing the authorities of the child’s whereabouts.

    The film beautifully portrays themes of grief, loneliness, and how a chance encounter can sometimes have a life-changing effect. It offers us a heroine whose pain pushes her beyond the line of what is wrong and what is right, but in doing so, it always tells her story with a sensitiveness that makes its audience empathize and forgive, without condoning. And her final choice rewards the viewers of their time and attention, filling them – and her – with new hope and a deeper understanding of the delicate mechanisms inherent of human souls. 

    Watch Aeroplanes here

     

    I AM EASY TO  FIND

    Genre: Drama
    Running Time: 26’
    Language: English

    Director: Mike Mills

    Release Date:  2019

    This short film, shot in black and white, features a woman recalling the story of her life from birth to death. Accompanied by soul-touching music by The National, Mike Mills directs a stunning Alicia Vikander in this visual, more than spoken, tale of time passing by and moments turning into memories.

    The protagonist embodies all of us as she faces, or refuses to face, everyday struggles, and ever-changing emotions, both of which are so universal and so familiar to us that they hurt. But the style of the film makes her and this piece completely unique. She grows up, moves away from her family, falls in love, creates a new family of her own, grows old, faces death… and throughout the whole film, she never physically changes, always appearing as Alicia Vikander in her early thirties, yet feeling different in every shot – as if we were looking at the soul, not the body; at the mind, not the real world.  

    “I Am Easy To Find” is a short film in its own league, delivering emotions with barely any dialogue, relying mainly on powerful visuals – sometimes vividly, like memories recorded on camera; and other times almost abstractly, the way thoughts manifest themselves in our head. 

    Watch I Am Easy To Find here

    DADDIO

    Genre: Comedy
    Running Time: 18’
    Language: English

    Director: Casey Wilson

    Release Date:  2019

    In this comedy, the unlikely protagonist is a very eccentric old man who decides to pay his grown-up daughter a visit while dealing with a tragic loss. But the man’s way to cope with grief is unusual and unorthodox, and will involuntarily stir up conflicts. 

    Nominated for Best Narrative Short at the SXSW Film Festival and for Best International short at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Daddio” explores the story of a father and a daughter working together to reconcile their approaches to pain and loss, while also finding ways to work out their issues and rebuild their relationship.  

    The protagonist, although peculiar, is motivated by kindness of heart and genuineness so endearing that it will most certainly charm. This heart-warming film delivers the often overlooked truth that in some situations, no matter how serious and devastating, comedy and humor can be powerful allies to find happiness in the midst of tragedy.  

    Watch a preview clip here

    SKYWATCH

    Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
    Running Time: 10’
    Language: English

    Director: Colin Levy

    Release Date:  2019

    Skywatch is a near-future short film with two teen boys as main characters. To pass their time, the two boys entertain themselves by hacking an ever-present drone delivery service called NexPort, swapping deliveries, and playing tricks on their neighbors.  

    But in doing so, they accidentally redirect a top-secret shipment and make themselves targets in what turns out to be a dangerous political coup. 

    With cinematic graphics and an action-packed plot, “Skywatch” gives us humor, tension, and adrenaline. The two boys start as typical teenagers and evolve, before our eyes, into fugitives and unlikely heroes. 

    Colin Levy shot the short film with the hope of turning it into a feature, a purpose which has played to his advantage when building the story: the film gives us a glimpse of a far more complex dystopian reality, it teases us, it throws us right into the heart of the action without wasting any time with over-explanation; but in doing so, it also maintains a self-contained story that hooks us and leaves us feeling curious, yes, but not unfulfilled. 

    And with a final cameo by Jude Law, “Skywatch” is definitely on our recommended list.

    Watch Skywatch here

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