The most accomplished filmmakers of our time often get their start in short films.
In fact, the director of one of the most buzzworthy films of this year is proof.
His name is Reinaldo Marcus Green. If you have been living under a rock with no internet access, you might have missed his directed feature King Richard, the superb sports biopic about Richard Williams, and the rise of his tennis star daughters, Venus and Serena Williams.
The New York Times deemed King Richard as “buoyant and engaging” and stated that “…you might find yourself holding your breath and full of conflicting emotion as you watch the director [Green’s] skillful and suspenseful restaging.”
The film has generated Oscar buzz for Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, who play the titular role of Richard Williams and his wife Oracene Price, respectively.
Green made his feature-length directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed Monsters and Men in 2018. But years before, he quit his job on Wall Street and pursued moviemaking after acting in his brother’s short films.
He eventually enrolled in the prestigious New York University film school, and Spike Lee – yes, that Spike Lee – became his mentor.
Thanks to Vimeo, we have access to two of Green’s earliest short films, “Stone Cars” and “Stop,” which earned him selections to the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance, respectively.
“Stone Cars,” a coming-of-age love story set in the slums of the Khayelitsha township in South Africa, centers on a young woman who makes a decision that could alter the course of her life.
More than that, this tense 13-minute short follows her as she journeys through her home, a place where predators lurk and people survive. Somehow, “Stone Cars” manages to be beautiful and bleak – hope coexisting with treachery.
Green also produced “Stop,” a short inspired by the tragic life of Trayvon Martin.
This 9-minute film shot entirely with a handheld camera, centers on a young black male named Xavier who gets stopped by police on his walk home from baseball practice. Like “Stone Cars,” “Stop” also contains a hard, gripping moment at its core – which was intentional.
“I wanted to create a scenario where ‘it could’ve been you’ so that for just a moment we could all relate to what happens to this young man as he’s walking home from practice,” Green told Remezcla in 2016.
Watch “Stop” by tapping on this still below:
Winner of 147 Awards, this Short Film is a Must Watch
The best short films transport you to a place and time beyond your present world, if only for a bit. Then, by some small measure, a part of you is altered from the experience. That’s exactly the type of magic “Calf Rope” conjures up. This tender little short film centers on the relationship between a former rodeo champion and his grandson during the summer of 1966. The film itself plays out like a gauzy dream in the eyes of the young boy, who becomes hypnotized by his pop pop’s tales of rodeo glory.
The best scene in this 28-minute short occurs when the boy witnesses his grandad show off his other gift: as that of a first-rate cattle auctioneer. It’s really a sweet scene in what is a triumph of a short film, courtesy of director Bradley Hawkins.
While “Calf Rope” isn’t a holiday movie, the intergenerational bond between this man and his grandson evokes what the holiday season is about: enjoying the company of family while they’re still here.
And in these fraught, pandemic-influenced times, a film like this is a balm for the soul.
To rent “Calf Rope” for $1.49, simply visit Itsashort.com.
Whoo-hoo! The Sundance Shorts Program is Unveiled!
After combing through a record 10,374 submissions, a selection committee picked 59 short films for the upcoming 2022 Sundance Film Festival, which runs from January 20-30.
The films will be included in the short film program. In addition to those selections, 40 more shorts will be added from past Sundance programs to mark the non-profit’s 40th anniversary.
“Short films are such a vital part of the independent storytelling culture that Sundance Institute has consistently put its full support behind,” said Kim Yutani, Sundance’s Director of Programming. We’re all happy for the opportunity this year’s hybrid in-person and online Festival model is providing us with: to show the present and future of the form alongside some of the most beloved shorts that have screened at the Festival during its history.”
The films will be screened in person in Utah and online, with a small collection of them tabbed for viewings at seven satellite locations around the country. As always, the short film program is shaping up to be as diverse as ever.
Check out these stats from Sundance: Of those 59 shorts announced today and who opted to provide identity information, 26 (44%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women; 4 (7%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as non-binary; 41 (69%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as people of color, and 12 (20%) by one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+
For a list of those short films, go here.