This list includes David Lynch’s bizarre film about a Capuchin monkey suspected of murder.
Spending much time indoors urged many of us to find joy, solace, and enlightenment in watching films. Netflix continues to acquire a wide range of titles but these are only available for a period of time. So, before the good ones depart, make sure to watch these award-winning short films.
The Present (2020)
Winning Best Short Film in the 2021 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), this moving story is about Yousef, a man who sets out to buy an anniversary gift for his wife, together with his daughter Yasmine. The pair travels to Beitunia only to encounter challenges from the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
This short piece remains relevant as Palestine continues to fight for its freedom from the violent attacks and military control of neighboring country Israel.
What Did Jack Do? (2017)
Directed by David Lynch, this short film revolves around a police interrogation. A capuchin monkey is suspected of murder and a homicide detective (played by the director himself) cross-examines it. Brilliant, bizarre, and entertaining, this black-and-white short earned Lynch an Academy Honorary Award.
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The White Helmet (2016)
The short documentary won Netflix its first Academy Award as a distributor. Running for 40 minutes, the story follows a group of Syrian Civil Defense volunteers also called “The White Helmets.” They rescue civilians, provide medical assistance, and recover bodies in the aftermath of the bombing in Aleppo.
“It is easy for anyone to kill someone, but it’s very hard and very difficult to save lives,” says the cinematographer Khaled Khatib, talking about the mission to show the world what is happening to Syria.
Period: End of Sentence. (2019)
In India, a group of women revolutionized menstrual hygiene when a sanitary pad vending machine was installed in the village. Women then learned to make low-cost pads, helping them gain independence and fight against the stigma revolving menstruation.
This empowering, 26-minute film won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2019. But the win sparked ambivalence among a group of health experts. One of them claims the film’s catchphrase, “A period should end a sentence—not a girl’s education” lacks support by a rigorous study that girls’ difficulty in managing periods leads them to miss or drop out of school.
But even without comprehensive data, the Oscar win still gave visibility to the serious problem of women’s lack of access to menstrual products.
Two Distant Strangers (2020)
Bagging the Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action) in 2020 is no surprise for this controversial short. Similar to the Groundhog Day time loop formula, a young man keeps reliving a period in his life of waking up and walking out of an apartment and having an encounter with a police officer.
The brilliant plot device reinforces the message that police brutality and systemic racism against people of color keep happening globally, especially in America.
Ghosts of Sugar Land (2019)
The Sundance-winning docu explores betrayal and Islamic identity. A group of young Muslims tries to uncover the reason for the disappearance of their friend, Mark (a pseudonym). While it is not a true-crime narrative, it plays like one with the way stories, questions, doubts, and worries are presented and explored. Gripping and complex, it is no surprise for this to be nominated as well in the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the festival circuit.
At only 11 minutes, the visually dramatic film captures the inspirational story and emotional resilience of Zion. Born without legs, he grew up in foster care all his life. Despite the neglect of people around, he found his strength and confidence when he fell into competitive wrestling.
The film won the Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Long Feature and Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Long Form Editing.