Short Magazine #2 - The Sundance Issue

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- In-Depth: Silent Hills -


THE SUNDANCE ISSUE Welcome to the second ever issue of Short Magazine. This issue is where we start getting serious, so don’t mess with us; in fact, this issue features the top-notch, award-winning short films from Sundance 2016.Within the pages of this magazine are in-depth looks at the very best short films out there, as well as interviews with the great minds who made them. The first issue, back in June, was born out of a passion and interest for both magazine design and film. It also came from the identification that short film makers have been massively underserved in the world of magazines. If the 90-minute-plus featured films get their own printed space to shine, why shouldn’t the snappy and creative shorts? So this here publication decided to give those people a space of their own. From the sci-fi thinker Visible to the dedicated creations like Silent Hills in Real Life, the wide berth of what short films could do was clear. The

- Intro - Short #2 -

response? Amazing. Filmmakers and fans alike seemed to appreciate the rare insight, and it was incredibe to see - we really appreciate the support. What else could Short do but continue, bigger and better? So, now it is the time to look at the shorts recognised by Sundance. The genre-balancing genius of Thunder Road leads the issue, starring Jim Cummings - who also wrote, directed, and even sold wedding rings to fund the film. Yeah, you get the idea. The dedication by some of the creatives ahead is staggering, and the least we can do is give them a spotlight. As well as Sundance winners, we have a look at just how wide the net of short films goes. With the Wes Anderson-style Home Suite Home and amazing animation quality of the Overwatch video game short film adaptations, Short #2 is all about showing that the world of short films has something for everyone. Enjoy reading the issue!


Contributors: Illustrations by: Jess LaGreca Andreu Zaragoza William Robinson Writers: William Robinson Corrin Antrobus Matt O’Keefe Jordan Senior

Creative & Design: William Robinson Editor: William Robinson Special Thanks to: Jim Cummings Sol Friedman Ben Petrie Jeroen Houben Blizzard Entertainment Ellen Utrecht Contact: WCRDesigns on Behance WCRobinson on Issuu @wcrobinson2


- Intro - Short #2 -

CONTENTS Page 6: THUNDER ROAD (13mins) Page 8: In-Depth Feature Page 14: Jim Cummings Interview

Page 16: BACON & GOD’S WRATH (9mins) Page 18: In-Depth Feature Page 22: Sol Friedman Interview

Page 24: HER FRIEND ADAM (17mins) Page 26: In-Depth Review Page 30: Sundance Wrap-Up

Page 32: HOME SUITE HOME (14mins) Page 34: In-Depth Feature Page 38: Jeroen Houben Interview

Page 40: OVERWATCH (8/6/8/7/7/6mins) Page 42: Feature: Overwatch Shorts Page 46: Introducing: The Invisible Man




Main: Promo Image of Officer Arnaud from Thunder Road


- Sundance: Thunder Road -

Runtime: 13 minutes Writer & Director: Jim Cummings - Winner: Short Film Grand Jury Prize -


hunder Road’s synopsis reads: “Officer Arnaud loved his Mom.” It’s a simple yet powerful idea, and one which leads to a powerful film emotionally. Balancing the very fine line between tragic drama and humour, Thunder Road draws you in for its 13-minute runtime and doesn’t relinquish that grip.

A big part of this is Jim Cummings, who fills the roles of Director, Writer and also main character Officer Arnaud. He is the focal point of the majority of the film; using a one-take style, we are transfixed on him as he delivers his eulogy to his passed Mother. His description of his mother really makes you connect to his grief; the most tragic part amongst all that follows is that Officer Arnaud seems to regret not treating his mother better. The culmination of his tribute comes in the form of an innocent pink record player, carrying with it the song Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. Amongst the conservative browns and greys of the Cemetery (the film

was shot at Mountain View Mortuary), the player stands out as much as the track itself and Officer Arnaud’s subsequent performance to go with it. This contrast is the heart of the film; a juxtaposition of colour, emotion, and genres. Cummings describes himself as a “big fan of neuroscience and psychology in the arts”, and the intention was to play with our emotions throughout the runtime of his short. From moment to moment, it’s hard to know whether you should be laughing or crying, and this is evident in more than just the musical performance going on. There is a subtle imbalance to everything – for example, take his position on screen. As the camera zooms in so gradually you might not notice, Cummings is always slightly off-centre, never standing straight for long. Even if you decide you’re viewing the film as a comedy or a drama, that perspective may change within moments. Personally, it came across as more of a drama, but it may well be down to your own life experience as to which side you come down on. It’s all in the detail, the small considerations that make a piece of art hit another level. Take

- Sundance: Thunder Road -


the moment that the record player starts with It couldn’t have been another song in the the wrong side of the album. It’s such a typical, film, you see. The song Thunder Road fits, erm, real-world issue that would happen when you Thunder Road (hope you’re keeping track here) are overthinking things. Just as “Born to Run” for multiple reasons, most of all because it was begins to play on the wrong side of the album, key to Cummings’ coming up with the idea. True, a clearly anxious and apologetic Officer Arnaud the aforementioned story from PJ McCabe was rushes to correct it. Then, in his concern to explain the first spark, but the man who portrays Officer everything, the start of Thunder Road cuts him Arnaud describes the true formation of the idea: off abruptly, forcing him into the song with little “I heard Thunder Road on the radio a week later grace but earning him a lot of empathy. In much [from talking to McCabe] and was crying in the the same way, the film begins with him ensuring car, thinking about my mom listening to it for the his hair is presentable as he gets reassured about first time and leaving Pittsburg as a young woman his upcoming eulogy. It all shows how much this and I had the idea for the short then.” man wants to have a fitting send-off for his mother, In addition to that, the song has several extra as well as the difficult reality of a funeral. connotations that fit the themes of the film. Bruce The moment that Thunder Road starts to Springsteen’s own inspiration for the now-classic play is when this short becomes something song was none other than the poster for the 1958 distinct and unusual. Where does this sort of film of the same name (Springsteen never saw the idea come from, though? film). The lyrics, such as Cummings himself says “Don’t run back inside” he got the idea from and “Hey I know it’s late another actor named PJ we can make it if we run” McCabe, who described have relevant links to the a friend singing a song short of the same name, THE MOMENT THAT at his mother’s funeral. in terms of both urgency THUNDER ROAD STARTS TO Cummings response and boldly taking action PLAY IS WHEN THIS SHORT was: “what would that in the moment. Officer even sound like? Did Arnaud may not seem BECOMES SOMETHING somebody film that?” entirely comfortable DISTINCT AND UNUSUAL This curiosity into what with the situation he is this could be like as a in in Thunder Road, but film results in a very an incredibly honest unique short. However, and honourable selfit took a lot more than determination is on show just thinking up the idea to make this a reality. from Officer Arnaud throughout the entire film. Thunder Road was written over the period of Single-shot takes are often stylistic choices, 2 months commuting to CollegeHumor, which which, at best, give scenes a relevant look from may appear to be the furthest type of humour a visual standpoint; at worst, are unneeded ways possible from the nuanced comedy of Thunder for filmmakers to make a scene different. Here, Road. Nevertheless, you could say that Cummings I’m glad to say, it’s the former. Having a constant had to sacrifice quite a lot to make Thunder Road connection with Officer Arnaud’s speech gives no not only a reality, but a Sundance-bound reality. chance to disconnect from the emotion being felt Upon the film getting into Sundance, Cummings – no respite, other than the elements of comedy had to shell out $7000 for the rights to use the woven into the film. well-known track Thunder Road in the short – only That’s the beauty of this short, which won to be faced with the price of $50,000 for a year awards at South by Southwest, Los Angeles Film of online distribution rights. A widely-shared Festival and more besides the crowning jewel of letter to Bruce Springsteen on social media the Sundance Short Film Grand Jury Prize. For a later, though, and he was granted the rights to film about family loss, it is surprisingly watchable, distribute the film online for all to see. That’s a even encouraging repeat viewings because of the pretty heartwarming story of artists helping each pure humanity on show. Cummings guides you other by my book. Respect to those involved in it. through grief with music: “Everything in the film


- Sundance: Thunder Road -

Top: Officer Arnaud attends to his daughter Bottom: Receiving some supportive words before going up

- Sundance: Thunder Road -


Main: A more reserved moment for Jim Cummings’ character


- Sundance: Thunder Road -


is constructed to drive the audience to pay attention, to keep them guessing as to what they’re watching, and guide them through tears with laughter.” Also, whilst the idea of using music at a funeral may be a great tension-breaker on paper, it also ends up translating Officer Arnaud’s feelings in a very raw way that may well not have happened otherwise. He does his utmost to sing and dance along to Bruce Springsteen’s classic without breaking down, but the breaking point that was being edged towards from the first minutes of the film eventually starts to be hit.Yet, somehow, it never makes you cringe or feel overly entertained. It hits that point just in the middle, when you can see how much he personally wants to do right by his mother.You respect what is being done, and accept the utter madness of it all. Jim Cummings/Officer Arnaud is the centrepoint of Thunder Road, but the little extras count for a lot as well. We occasionally get to see more from others in the room - a saddeningly realistuc case of this is someone filming Officer Arnaud’s spiral of singing, dancing and emotion. In modern times, you could easily imagine this being something that blows up on Facebook and other social media platforms, either in a positive or negative way. Perhaps the part that tugs at the heartstrings most is when Officer Arnaud’s daughter, distressed at the events going on, forces him to cut short his performance. He still gets his final goodbye, though, which is when we see - once again - that he is just trying to do right by his mother. As he sits down, another woman aptly says: “I think it’s important for all of us to remember that everyone mourns in their own unique way. There’s no right way, there’s no wrong way.” It’s a line that sums up the message of the short magnificiently. Thunder Road shows the levels the grief can send people to, and also shows the amazing things a short can achieve. -William Robinson

Thunder Road is now available to watch on Vimeo

- Sundance: Thunder Road -



CUMMINGS Jim Cummings has had a pretty major role in Thunder Road becoming a success. The main who both directed and wrote Thunder Road, as well as playing the main character Officer Arnaud, talks to Short:

Hi there! Thunder Road is a pretty exceptional film that really stands out with how it portrays the grief of one man, Officer Arnaud. How did the premise of the film, and the musical element in particular, come about? I was in a hot tub with this actor, PJ McCabe, and he told me this story about a friend who sang a song at his mother’s funeral. I said “what would that even sound like? Did somebody film that?” and he said, “No, why would somebody film that?” … I thought it would be a great monologue, and then I heard Thunder Road on the radio a week later and was crying in the car, thinking about my mom listening to it for the first time and leaving Pittsburg as a young woman and I had the idea for the short then. One of the most noteworthy parts of the film is how it treads the line of both comedy and drama. From your point of view - as writer, director and actor - was this something you were purposefully balancing? Absolutely. I’m a big fan of neuroscience and psychology in the arts, and I thought about the construction of a joke: it usually has setup and then payoff, usually through the punchline and it’s unexpected. I then realized that it’s possible to have dramatic punchlines as well, things that cued tears rather than laughs. Everything in the film is constructed to drive the audience to pay attention, to keep them guessing as to what they’re watching, and guide them through tears with laughter.You could almost call it a ballet. ;) (Editor’s note: I appreciate the emoticon) As just mentioned, you have several credits in Thunder Road. Was it particularly challenging to have such a comprehensive role in the film, and was this always the idea? It wasn’t always the idea, I wanted to cast another actor but I realized that it would take months to rehearse with an


actor and instead I just thought, maybe I can do it. I shot a rehearsal and sent it to Drew Daniels, my cinematographer, and he and his fiancé cried while watching it and I thought then that I would be good enough to act in it. As for directing and writing, it was kind of one and the same (as well as editing, shooting long takes, the actors become the film editors). The emotions captured in the one-take nature of the film are remarkable. How did you, along with cinematographer Drew Daniels, face this challenge? Did the structure of the film change much as filming went on? Drew is remarkable.We had always wanted it to be a single take film, but Drew suggested that we show members of the crowd reacting, to give the audience the idea of how others are reacting to the speaker. He came up with the pan over to the ex-wife, he thought that it would become too stale to focus on me the entire time and we worked together on how and when to best reveal the reacting crowd. With the success of Thunder Road - not only at Sundance, but at events like SXSW - what comes next? Considering your work in Thunder Road, is there plans both behind the camera and also in front of it in the future? I’d love to write and direct and act more, but you’d be surprised, there actually aren’t that many opportunities for people at my level. I’m hoping to keep writing and acting and directing in projects until someone takes us seriously. Finally, in a sentence: If anyone was looking to get into filmmaking, starting with short films, what would your advice be? Consider where your audience will be during each turn of the rollercoaster.

- Interview: Jim Cummings -


Main: Jim Cummings in a rather less intense scenario

- Interview: Jim Cummings -




Main: Illustration of Razie Brownstone by Jess LaGreca


- Sundance: Bacon & God’s Wrath -


GOD’S WRATH Runtime: 9 minutes Directed by: Sol Friedman


- Winner: Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction -

mongst the varied bunch of short films that were winners of the coveted Sundance Awards, Bacon & God’s Wrath might just be the quirkiest. A mixture of animation and live action, this documentary stars Razie Brownstone, a 90-year-old Jewish Woman. Over the 9 minutes of Sol Friedman’s direction, we go with her on a journey to eat bacon for the first time. Now, stay with me here. Honestly, it’s worth it, so hold on. For starters, the film has recognition from all over.Winning the Sundance Short Film Jury Award for Non-fiction is top of the honours list, but the Canadian short premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival – getting not only an Honourable Mention from the jury for the Best Canadian Short Film award, but featuring in their end-of-year top ten Canadian short films of the year. The film itself, and the self-aware subject - Razie - presents the ol’ topic of reason versus belief with a very different style of presentation to what you may have seen before. Razie has been faithful to her religion, and this means pork is forbidden. Her mind has clearly changed, however, and the modern world is shown as a big reason for that. The

big turning point is in the discovery of “the Google”. Razie marvels at how it can present answers to things only partly written, and on that point, how it can offer definitive answers from a wide network of people. The internet is discussed like a voice for factual conversation, where things with less tangible back-up can’t be argued.

Sol Friedman uses animation within the documentary to break the pace nicely and in several ways. Throughout the documentary, the animations mix in with the live action shots without being obtuse. They reflect how belief is something that stands out in modern times, whether it is Jewish faith or – as she compares the idea of belief to - Santa. Having certain beliefs makes you different now, and is that a good or bad thing? When Razie describes a story of her Great Aunt, and how she had her tongue removed in a horrific fashion for daring to consume a forbidden sweet, the pen-drawn illustration style conveys just how different those times were from the live-action present. Oh, yes, Bacon & God’s Wrath is about

- Sundance: Bacon & God’s Wrath -


a sweet, elderly Jewish lady eating bacon for the first time, but it’s not all charm. Just like Edmond does (Sundance Winner: Short Film Jury Award: Animation, p30), this short takes very complex and dark themes and makes them much more palatable through the visuals of the film. Friedman himself says that, for him, animation “… is a great way to bring a bit of lightness to dark material, to make it a bit more accessible.” As those animations become more isolated in the world, so does the representation of differing beliefs. If you couldn’t already tell, Bacon & God’s Wrath has a very alternative documentary style. Razie essentially commentates on her transition for the good of the viewer. Combined with the distinct animation style and also the little secrets to find throughout – oh, you’re interested in that last bit? OK. Well, for interested and eagle-eyed watchers, Sol Friedman has peppered in multiple Easter Eggs that contribute to what his short is. They’re layered in as part of the film. When you see Razie browsing “the Google” (I want to refer to it like that forever now) and finding a new view on the world at the same time, links around her browser include titles like “Douglas Wilson gets Slapped Silly by Christopher…” that show she may well be just as susceptible to the lures of YouTube clickbait as everyone else. Furthermore, it’s hard to compare the way Bacon & God’s Wrath is produced to anything else. It has such a grounded feel, which is in no small part down to Razie’s fascinating description of how she has gotten to the point



- Sundance: Bacon & God’s Wrath -

Left: Razie facing an unusual sight Right: The pen-drawn animation is used to show the darkest sequence

of eating bacon. The film starts with quirky, welcoming music and a Great British Bake-Off-like illustrated poster that creates a homely vibe immediately. She immediately laughs at her own situation and how people say “… it’d be nice to have a bacon and tomato sandwich,”. Her own “Simple & Nice.” life only emphasises the legitimacy of her story. She presents herself as just another person, not someone majorly changing the way we view religion. It’s a change of the way she sees her own life, and maybe that’s both enough and just as important. Nevertheless, she has – as you may expect – a sense of apprehension at times. She’s 90, and leaving behind certain beliefs. That comes across as a very brave thing to do. How she treats the topic of faith, after her new experiences, brings up a lot of points to consider. The eating of bacon is just a symbolic representation of reconsidering faith as just another important part of the world (an idea pushed by a montage of words and images). “It takes courage to be faithful – ha!” is one of the most striking lines in the documentary, when Razie makes faith appear as the safe option. This ends with her opinion of it being “courageous to choose the truth, even if it means abandoning what you know,” Let’s get to the bacon-eating, then. Just beforehand, the animated head of a pig on a table surreally talks to Razie across a table, and she responds – but through the tablet in front of her, of all things. This shot summarises the film very nicely, showing the fear of leaving behind belief against the technology inspiring Razie’s new outlook.

Moreso than the rest of the homely documentary, the actual eating of the bacon is filmed in such a way that – in great contrast to the scene just mentioned - it doesn’t feel out of the ordinary. Friedman uses a lower-scale look, as we see Razie walking down snowy streets towards a less-thanglamorous diner. Rashers of bacon are displayed on a very unspectacular, average-looking white plate. There’s no big hoo-ha over the event, which makes it more impressive in a way. At 90 years of age, this woman is deciding to – without parade – change her beliefs with a breakfast lots of us don’t even think about. Therefore, when she ends the documentary by referring to it as “good breakfast,”, it’s hard not to chuckle at the whole thing. Sol Friedman and fellow producer Sarah Clifford-Rastille have managed to give a ground-level view of the delicate topic of faith. The short film format, and the use of Razie as the conduit for the message of the piece, makes it accessible on the surface; and before you know it, the animation and central message of the film suddenly make you think about your own opinion on the whole thing. Maybe something to think about when you’re next eating a bacon sandwich. -William Robinson

Bacon & God’s Wrath is now available to watch at

- Sundance: Bacon & God’s Wrath-


Main: Image of Sol Friedman, director of Bacon & God’s Wrath


- Interview: Artbeast -

SOL FRIEDMAN The director of Bacon & God’s Wrath managed to create a refreshing take on the idea of reason and belief within 9 minutes. Short talks to him about how he went about it, and more:

Unlike other short films in the Sundance selection, yours is a documentary - and a pretty unique one at that. How did you come across Razie and her fascinating situation? Razie is a family friend. I had been talking to several other people that I was hoping to coerce into breaking this taboo for the project, but she was willing, and had such an engaging presence that it was an easy choice. Through the interview with Razie, some pretty interesting themes of faith vs. reason are discussed. Viewed as a whole, what would you like people to take away as the main message of the film? Although I accept that people can and will take whatever they want from the film, my goal was to spread the message that its never too late to abandon your faith. In fact, the - at times rather dark - animation sections are a big part of bringing the film to life. Can you tell us more about how and why animation was introduced into the film? As my background is in animation, my head often goes in that direction first. It’s not for everybody, but I’ve found that animation is a great way to bring a bit of lightness to dark material, to make it a bit more accessible.

There’s quite a few little Easter Eggs and jokes in the computer sections for eagle-eyed viewers. Was it fun to add those little jokes, and have you got a favourite? I didn’t really think about them as easter eggs, but more like fine details or texture, that are a part of the piece whether or not they register. Bacon & God’s Wrath had success at Sundance, but isn’t your first foray into short films. How would you describe your path to this point, and what are your plans going forward? This was my first film to screen at sundance, but my last three shorts premiered at TIFF and played pretty well internationally. That said, I’m a self-taught animator and didn’t go to film school, so I’m kinda making things up as I go. Moving forward, I have some feature ideas that I’m developing and am working on some animated series that I’m pretty excited about. Finally, in a sentence: If anyone was looking to get into filmmaking, starting with short films, what would your advice be? EDITING IS KEY - You don’t have to be technically good at editing, but you have to understand how decisions you make in the edit, about pacing, perspective and tone will shape the story at least as much as the performances, sometimes more.

- Interview: Artbeast -




Runtime: 17 minutes Directed by Ben Petrie


- Winner: Outstanding Performance -

hat kind of girl can paint dubious paintings of Minnie Mouse’s labia, describe herself as being ‘full of liquid poo’ after a dodgy takeaway and still be irresistible? Enter Liv (Grace Glowicki), who’s a compelling blend of Manic Pixie Dream Girl come volcanic bedlamite. She is the prize girlfriend of Robert (Ben Petrie) who can’t quite believe his luck at landing such an adorable girlfriend; she’s his fantasy girl and the stuff of his mates’ dreams - a fact that’s later hurled at Liv as the illusion of this perfect union begins to crack.

Her Friend Adam, Ben Petrie’s third short which premiered at Sundance, rambunctiously explores the anxieties of men in love and how jealousy rots relationships. In one breathless story we see their loving bond explode with anger and crumble to a choking dust. This is no spoiler when you consider that Petrie describes his short as ‘16 minutes of romantic doom’ with a ‘Woody Allen/Gordon Willisstatic-wide style’ - an objective he meets thanks to the waltzing shots, talk-heavy script and bumbling boy meets boho babe leads.

The film wastes no time in establishing the premise. Robert arrives at Liv’s grotto-esque flat ready for a night out with his beloved. Wet paintbrush in hand, adding more ‘meat’ to Minnie’s nether regions, she’s not quite ready but is gooey-eyed at his arrival and ceremoniously reveals her freshly lacquered canvas. ‘Ta da!’ He gawps. He likes it but he loves her thus lavishes her in overenthusiastic praise. Only when his intimate embrace is met with a micro flinch do we get a hint that his infatuation may not be reciprocal and so the seed of doubt is planted. With the cast and scene set, the drama then accelerates at a masterful pace; every minute is another notch on the thermostat, every second another bubble to the boil. As Liv goes to get ready, she whirls out of the claustrophobic room unwittingly feeding Robert’s insecurity at the announcement that ‘Adam’ is popping over. Robert’s mind races and that tiny lamp-lit room suddenly feels the breath of a giant elephant. Now left alone, an opportunity presents itself for Robert to play detective at the risk of rupturing their trust. It’s a familiar, morally tugging scenario with a lose-lose inevitability. We soon find Liv, who’s increasingly perturbed by having to defend herself,

- Sundance: Her Friend Adam -

Main: Illustration of Liv (Grace Glowicki) by Andreu Zaragoza


Above: Image of Liv mid-outburst Bottom: Grace Glowicki owns the role, bringing out Liv’s emotions


- Sundance: Her Friend Adam -


brushing off the threat of Adam (played by Andrew Chown) and placates that Adam’s sexuality renders her uninteresting. But this isn’t enough to quell his concern and so the story sours. The explosive journey of these lovers is riveting and the emotions are arrestingly real. From settling into a black comedy to being yanked out the other end of a dark drama, it’s an exhausting, grisly 16 minutes.

This film may be about Robert’s trust issues but Glowicki (who’s Petrie’s partner in real life) steals the show in a performance that landed her the Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance at Sundance 2016. Despite the short length, she finds ample room to flex an array of powerful emotions which steadily build to a shrieking climax. Her bitter act of faking an orgasm cruelly dismembers Robert’s ego and brings him to tears - as, after all, what’s more damaging to a man’s masculinity than the suggestion that her moans are merely mollycoddling? As for the other anxiety of the awkward straight man with a pretty girlfriend? The handsome gay bestie. We have Taylor Swift to thank for Her Friend Adam. Canadian born Petrie says Swift’s song Blank Space, which sees her shrugging off ‘drunk on jealousy’ exes, helped him articulate some amorphous emotions about his own relationships and thus inspired his movie. Talking in an interview with The Moveable Feast he confesses; ‘It was like an exorcism of all this jealousy that I guess I still

hadn’t quite fully processed in my subconscious that all came out in one big three-hour spat. All of a sudden, there was a script’. Interesting then that he cast himself to play opposite his girlfriend, Glowicki (who also directed the quirky short Queef - of which there’s a painting of the word in Liv’s bedroom). But to be less snarky, Petrie says the voice of Robert became so personal that plugging somebody else into the role no longer seemed fitting. In fairness, the couple have an irrefutable chemistry and clearly connect personally on the darker, smuttier side of comedy considering her film Queef, in technical terms, means ‘fanny fart’ and her other work includes acting in short films about wet dreams. Glowicki was hailed as this year’s Rising Star at the Toronto International Film Festival, and with her charm and spry personality she has much to be desired and is a name to watch. Her Friend Adam is a sermon in how pace, performance and set design (its cave-like bedroom creates a devilishly apt pressure cooker) can dish up a deliciously satisfying short and demonstrate the capabilities of new talent. And now, with Sundance and SXSW nods of approval under the belt, Ben Petrie is now shooting his first feature. - Corrina Antrobus

Her Friend Adam is now available to watch on Vimeo

- Sundance: Her Friend Adam -


EDMOND Runtime: 9 minutes Directed by Nina Gantz Produced by: Emilie Jouffroy Winner: Short Film Jury Award: Animation Edmond is now available to watch on Vimeo

Edmond is a Sundance short animated film directed by Nina Gantz which focuses on the life of a man that transitions between childhood and adulthood. This focuses on aspects such as anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-acceptance. The use of stop motion animation adds charm and humour to the dark themes present within Edmond. It also creates a distinctive art style that is incorporated alongside well written storytelling. The use of visuals is very peculiar which adds to the darkness depicted throughout the story. Despite the stop motion animation, there is a sense of realism that the audience can get when watching this film while being shown in an abstract fashion.

The set pieces used are creative and transition from scene to scene seamlessly, which really encapsulates the emotions of Edmond. The colour palette is muted, which gives off a depressing and murky vibe and is an art to be appreciated. The film

is well executed and Gantz uses a creative approach to communicate a harrowing message. Its strengths are within the narrative and pacing which is fast paced enough to not become boring but not too fast to the point of feeling rushed. This leads to the story being captured in an imaginative way. This film hits even the hardest of hearts and is a must see for lovers of animation and curious minds. The Amsterdam Born director was also behind Zaliger, another film which deals with dark themes. Her work has been shown in a number of prestigious film festivals such as the Sichuan Festival in China - Gantz was also awarded the Golden Panda for best student film at that event. Her films usually deal with very relatable and truthful storytelling in an animated manner. What especially works about Edmond is how felt animation is used ironically. This particular style in other depictions is usually associated with light hearted themes and often used humourously. The story is the complete opposite of light hearted, being dark and gritty. -Jordan Senior

THE PROCEDURE Runtime: 4 minutes Directed by Calvin Reeder Starring: Frank Mosley, Christian Palmer Winner: Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction

This group of Sundance winners does a great job of showing the variety of approaches to the idea of a short film. Compared to the 27 minutes of Peacock down below, the 4-minute The Procedure is a very different concept. It mixes themes of horror with the authenticity of a selfaware subject. The uneasy sight of a contraption being attached to this man (portrayed by Frank Mosley)

is a long way off the likes of Bacon & God’s Wrath, despite being in the same elite bunch of award-winning Sundance short films. Edmond may well be dark in its tale of cannibalism, but the fuzzy animation and oddly warming ending helps to soften (no joke intended) it. In The Procedure, it’s 4 minutes of disturbing and odd content that has left some people unimpressed. Not the jury, though.

MAMAN(S) Runtime: 20 minutes Written & Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré Starring: Sokhna Diallo, Maïmouna Gueye Winner: Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction

It could be said that one of the (sometimes) unappreciated abilities of short films is there ability to come in, make an impact, and leave you thinking. Maman(s) is Maïmouna Doucouré’s first film made with a production company, but there is no case of playing it safe on the first try here. Inspired by Doucouré’s own life experience, the film shows 8-year-old Aida dealing with the

polygamy of her father. You see, he has returned to their Parisian suburb from their country of origin - Senegal - with a second wife. This leads to an unsettling of the family situation, especially in the case of Aida’s mother. Therefore, Aida sets out to resolve the matter herself. Maman(s) is a delicate film that handles complex issues through the fascinating perspective of a child.

PEACOCK Runtime: 27 minutes Directed by Ondrej Hudecek Starring: Julius Feldmeier, Cyril Dobry, Marie Poulová Winner: Short Film Jury Award for Best Direction

Set in 19th century Bohemia, Ondrej Hudecek’s Peacock (based on a true story) has one of the more complex set-ups you might have heard of in a short. The film tells the story of Ladislav. who hides from the retaliation of the village he resides in. His hiding results in a twisting story of “suspense, laughter, violence, hope, heart, nudity, sex, and happy ending. Mostly happy

ending.” according to the official website for the short. Despite all of these elements, the focus of the story is the relationship between two people - Ladislav, and the poet Jan who he meets upon his return to the village. This black comedy won’t dwell on their happiness for long, though. As well as this, at a runtime of 27 minutes, it may be one for those looking for a more substantial short.



Main: Ludwig (Gene Bervoets) cynically sits at the dinner table


- In-Depth: Home Suite Home -

Runtime: 14 minutes Directed by Jeroen Houben


Starring: Gene Bervoets, Thekla Reuten

t may not be a Sundance winner, but Jeroen Houben’s drama/comedy short Home Suite Home stands up with the best short films around. The filmmaker, who is from Amsterdam, creates a charming short which utilizes both nostalgic and fresh ideas. Also, if you want to talk accolades… Let’s take the Jury prize it won at the Sun Cat Film contest in Houben’s home country this year, or perhaps the East Frisian Short Film Award it won at Emden-Norderney. Add to that “Best Euregional Film” and “Best Screenplay” at Crossborders and Eindhovens respectively, and you have a film with pedigree.

Home Suite Home is incredibly easy to love, and it all starts from the familiarity of the setting. Hotels have a great history in multiple film genres. Think of The Plaza Hotel in such films as North by Northwest & The Great Gatsby. However, the feature film The Grand Budapest Hotel may be one of the closest relations to Home Suite Home. Wes Anderson vibes are unabashedly apparent throughout the film, whether it is the rich colours of the hotels or the delightfully alternative directorial style. But don’t get me wrong – Home Suite Home may be a love letter to that style of film, but it has a very clear character of its own.

Our main character is Ludwig (Gene Bervoets), a hotel inspector who travels to different hotels practically every night and is clearly growing weary of the inherently lonely life he is leading away from friends and family. Ludwig even says that, according to them, he is on a “permanent vacation”; he never uses his real name at the hotels he visits, remaining anonymous in his singular life. This is the Ludwig we meet at the beginning of the film, cynical and disconnected from the wider world. His early-morning wake-up call comes ten minutes late, and we see a morning of his life. His phone conversation acts as a clever way to learn more about him; the irony of it all is that, as he complains of the poor manners and the creating of uncomfortable environments, he does the same to those around him. The request to take a chair next to him at breakfast? It isn’t even acknowledged. Despite this, Ludwig is easy to like and empathise with. Bervoets gives him a canny intelligence and wittiness, but you can tell he needs to find an extra thrill to his life.The beauty of Home Suite Home is how, in just one night, Ludwig’s life outlook changes drastically. The short opens with shots of hotel paintings, which Ludwig describes in a poetic fashion: “The Italian painter Alberti said a painting is an open window to the world”; he continues on to say that they are “A gap to the outside, through which we can escape the

- In-Depth: Home Suite Home -



Main: Ludwig & Stella walk off into the night after (Top right) being thrown out Bottom right: One of those small soaps


- In-Depth: Home Suite Home -

here and now,” - lovely quotes, that are almost instantly devalued by Ludwig’s follow-up quip of “I’d rather have an actual window”. This shows both the films warm sense of humour, and Ludwig’s state of mind. He’s clearly burned out on the life he has led for “Some 300 days a year, for the last 27 years”, but there’s also an underlying affection for the life he leads that keeps him going. It’s still home for him, it just lacks a spark of life. All it takes is meeting Stella (Thekla Reuten), though, and suddenly Ludwig’s life takes an exciting turn. While assessing his dinner, he spies the younger hotel inspector doing the same across the room. Striking up conversation, they immediately have chemistry that just works – which is so important in a short, where you don’t have time to force a connection. Her infectious personality leads to something Ludwig may well not have had for a while: a fun evening of joking and drinking. Within minutes, we see the two staggering around, mocking the state of the hotel even as they vandalise the place. The wonderful twist to it all? We meet back up with Ludwig the next morning, after being impolitely kicked out of the hotel with Stella by his side. Of all places, he wakes up in a bunk bed of a hostel! Better yet, Stella is nowhere to be found. The Ludwig of the beginning of Home Suite Home would be bitter and patronised by this situation; wonderfully, the new Ludwig takes on this development with a grin. Brilliantly, Houben recreates the initial sequence of the film with both a different environment and a change of tone. It’s undeniably less glamorous, yet it has an honesty that matches the evening we just witnessed. The cereal, the messy pots of jam, and the much-used kettle

are now the focus, instead of the mini bar, small soaps, and clean towels of before. When asked for a seat, Ludwig welcomes the talkative group instead of ignoring them. Helping all of this along is the joyful score, designed by Rens Pluym and composed by Jeroen Houben. A large amount of the film uses real-world sounds for the background of scenes, giving a legitimacy to the setting. When needed, light-hearted pieces are used to give the film a vibrancy - the sort that only strengthens ties to the likes of The Grand Budapest Hotel. The ending works in multiple ways. In a way, it’s just another night in Ludwig’s cyclical life. He’s ended up in a hotel again. However, everything has been approached in a new way thanks to the happiness and freedom of the prior evening. He has a new view of his life, where he can suddenly see excitement where there was just repetition before. Perhaps the most joyous moment of the film is the simple smile on Ludwig’s face as Home Suite Home ends, before the score kicks in again and creates a feel-good feeling all the way through the credits. Within 14 minutes, and one evening of Ludwig’s life, we have witnessed him transform into someone with a bright, youthful view. In the same way, Houben has taken the familiar film setting of a hotel and made it feel new again. -William Robinson

Home Suite Home is now available to watch on Vimeo and at

- In-Depth: Home Suite Home -


JEROEN HOUBEN Jeroen Houben creates a wonderous short with Home Suite Home, and now he talks to Short about inspirations, how people perceive the ending, and his future plans:

Hi Jeroen! Hotels have been the location of so many great stories in film, but through the character of Ludwig, Home Suite Home manages to feel fresh. How did the idea for Ludwig, Stella, and the general story of the short film, come about? I’ve always been sort of fascinated by hotels in general. As a kid I sometimes stayed in a hotel with my parents and my brother, and I might’ve fantasised about living there. Later I realised this could actually be fertile ground for telling a story. Were there particular inspirations for you when creating the film? Through the visuals and the “dramady” style, fitting references to the likes of Wes Anderson come through. In terms of storytelling and mood, the film was largely influenced by Alexander Payne’s work. The premise draws a bit from About Schmidt, which is also about an old man who leads a life of quiet desperation before facing an existential crisis. But more evidently I was inspired by Payne’s short film 14th Arrondissement which is one of my favourite shorts. I wanted to capture that same essence: what are we looking for when we travel? — and how do you know when you’ve found it? The limited budget did dictate our visual language for a bit. For example, in my first draft of the script, I wanted to show a quick montage of about 20 different hotel rooms from all over the world. Since we couldn’t do that, those closeup shots of paintings, soap bars and menu cards offered a creative solution while telling the same thing. The introduction of Thekla Reuten’s character, Stella, into the story certainly shakes things up for Ludwig. Would you say this breaking of a routine is the main message of the story? I guess the main message here is you should at least question your routine. Stella might be in her


own routine as well, but when the two of them meet, they are confronted with someone who lives the same life, but approaches it differently. The ending feels like Ludwig’s life has both changed forever, while also not having changed at all. Was it purposeful to leave it open to interpretation, and if so, why? I love when parts of a film remain ambiguous, especially when you don’t “need” to know. It would be pointless to show what Ludwig will do next. I’d much rather have people figuring it out for themselves. A lot of people asked me “what happened to Stella? Did she sleep in another room? Did something happen? Did they part ways?” — And as a writer, I might have a vague idea of what could’ve happened, but it’s really not the point of the film. Home Suite Home has drawn many accolades, from the likes of the Eindhoven Film Festival and more. Is there plans for more short films in development, or perhaps something a bit different in the future? I’ve made a couple of shorts over the years. Another one that premiered almost simultaneously with Home Suite Home was a short called Plaster, which can also be found online. At the moment I’m quietly working on my first feature film. Finally, in a sentence: If anyone was looking to get into filmmaking, starting with short films, what would your advice be? I tend to make short films that are kind of highconcept. For me it mostly starts out with a logline or a premise that just catches my attention immediately and maybe even gives me an image in my head before I’ve even figured out the story. I think most good short films rely on an original concept that sets itself apart. But most important: make anything you feel like making. It’s the perfect medium to experiment. Just make sure that you make something you haven’t seen before, or in a way you’ve never seen before.

- Interview: Jeroen Houben -

Main: Jeroen Houben, the director Home Suite Home, in action with Thekla Reuten (Stella) alongside

- Interview: Jeroen Houben -




OVERWATCH By Blizzard Entertainment

Recall: 8 minutes

Alive: 6 minutes

Dragons: 8 minutes

Hero: 7 minutes

The Last Bastion: 7 minutes

Infiltration: 6 minutes

Main: Tracer comes face to face with Widowmaker in Alive


- In-Depth: Overwatch -


lizzard Entertainment is well known for its innovation. They may not have created the MMO game (massively multiplayer online), but they certainly defined it with World of Warcraft. They weren’t the first to make an online card game, but Hearthstone has succeeded in ways none of the others have. Likewise, Blizzard was not early to developing a story-driven first-person shooter, but Overwatch still feels like a game changer. Instead of designing a traditional singleplayer campaign with cutscenes, Blizzard released a series of short films featuring the characters of Overwatch, fleshing out the world before players even had the chance to step inside it. The success of the strategy speaks for itself, with millions upon millions of copies sold as well as a devoted community passionate about all things Overwatch. But what about the artistic merit of the shorts, both as they relate to the game and as they stand on their own? That’s what we’ll get into. First, to discuss it as a whole, it’s important to mention that Overwatch takes place in a superhero universe. In the era of Marvel Studios and many other well-received superhero-based movies and TV shows, that means Overwatch has some big shoes to fill, without the benefit of 60+ years of laid groundwork to base their characters, settings and stories on. Despite that hurdle, many of the Overwatch short films earn their place amongst some of the finest cinematic superhero fiction. In a way, starting out whole cloth without any history to fall back on may have been an advantage. Less choices can lead to better decisions, and by not being bogged down by what people wrote half a century ago the Overwatch team was able to construct stories that fit seamlessly into a world that feels familiar to us in 2016. At the beginning of Marvel Comics, almost every hero lived in New York City. Overwatch is a global operation, and its characters live all over the world. The sense of inclusion and hope is what helps define Overwatch, even amidst the mayhem that the heroes take action against. The clean, crisp animation style and cheery attitudes of the protagonists makes the material feel bright while not cheesy, inspiring but still grounded. As opposed to the edgy, dark take of a lot of movies and TV shows, Overwatch is a tour de force in what people first loved in superheroes. A layman might compare the Overwatch animated shorts to a Pixar movie, but the material isn’t overly comparable to the work of any one animation studio. Part of the reason for that is it’s inspired by many of them, and to lay the source of inspiration on anyone individually would be unfair to the rest. Another factor is that the Overwatch short films have the edge that the less restricted medium of video games allows. Though they take place in an optimistic world, the shorts

involve more mature topics and deeper themes than most G or PG-rated animated features can accommodate. Trying to cover topics like gang violence or political assassination in family friendly animated content would at best be akin to fitting round pegs into square holes - and at worst be extremely offensive - but they wouldn’t be remotely shocking in modern video games. While Overwatch stands out for being more welcoming to people of younger age groups than most shooters, it still has enough in it that could keep parents from bringing their kids to see a version of it at the local movie theater. There are a lot of different animated videos and teasers featuring the world of Overwatch, but to make this review manageable the focus will be on the (as of now) six character-centric films that all stand alone but also fit into a larger narrative. We’ll go through them, from how they promote (or discredit) the multicultural focus of Overwatch, to how they represent the characters compared to playing as them in the game, to their level of quality simply as short films. Let’s get started!

The first animated short, Recall, sets up the whole world of Overwatch in a brief eight minutes, and does it so seamlessly that it almost feels incidental. The focus is on Winston, a hyperintelligent but temperamental gorilla who misses the glory days of the Overwatch initiative. The news he watches explains the world’s status quo without feeling like exposition because it feeds into Winston’s frustration and nostalgia. The mood of the short quickly shifts from thoughtful to energetic with the arrival of the villain. That marks Overwatch’s first opportunity to show off its prowess with action, and it doesn’t disappoint, better than almost anything seen in CG movies. Winston’s rage is expressed very effectively, with a roar that’s genuinely intimidating and a fighting style that’s just as loud. On top of that, the timely use of flashbacks as good as in any recent piece of entertainment elevates the work from an already impressive animated story into something even more powerful. Winston’s relationship with the doctor who dares him to “see the world as it could be” boldly and precisely expresses his motivation for his action at the end of the short that launches Overwatch. Featuring the mascot of Overwatch in the second short, titled Alive, is perfect timing and executed masterfully. The enthusiastic Tracer best represents the sense of hope pervading Overwatch, something that is present even amidst

- In-Depth: Overwatch -



all the conflict. The animation of the fight scenes remains the brightest star, particularly in this short where Tracer’s teleporting abilities make the action fluid and kinetic at the same time.While the film deepens Tracer’s personality, it’s especially effective in giving her antagonist an identity. But the last line of the short from the assassin Widowmaker is easily one of Overwatch’s best. The willingness to not end on a high note when they can hit a more poignant beat instead is a hallmark of why the short films are so special amongst their field. The quality of Overwatch as a whole doesn’t fall apart with Dragons, but it at least crumbles a little. One of Overwatch’s hallmarks is the global perspective, respecting many different cultures that make up the team. Here, however, the writers fall back on the lazy Asian samurai and dragon myth. It’s a similar problem as the one Marvel dealt with when casting a white actor to play Iron Fist. The Overwatch team thankfully wasn’t telling another white saviour story, but they still reduced a rich culture down to something easily digestible to a Western audience with their backdrop. Instead of challenging the audience, it appeased them. Though the narrative and emotions of the film were fairly compelling, the poor decisions behind them are hard to ignore. The short Hero is a change of pace, centering not on a member of Overwatch but a normal little girl. It was smart of the writers to tell a story from the perspective of someone who’s a part of this world rather than someone who helps define it. The hero in this short, Soldier 76, can feel like a vague, uninteresting Punisher type of character if you don’t know the backstory that’s laid out elsewhere. It’s fortuitous that in this case he was not the star of the film but the saviour. It ends with 76 sending a young girl on the right path in their brief interaction, reminding of the heroes’ power to inspire. The Last Bastion likely reminds many of the first (and best) 40 or so minutes 2008’s Wall-E. While it doesn’t reach the heights of that movie, it’s still not an unfavourable comparison. The use of expression and intent through gesture and technology is pretty effective. The loudest message of the piece is about the tendency towards violence, for which it probably owes a lot to 2001’s The Iron Giant. The Bastion gets frightened and shoots wildly at an idyllic nature scene when triggered similarly to how the Giant reacted when it felt under threat. With all of that,


the question becomes if it’s too similar to those two seminal films. The answer is: kind of, yeah. If they didn’t exist, The Last Bastion would be almost transcendent. But, because they do, it’s merely passable. You can only judge anything at least partly by comparing it to what’s come before, and that’s where The Last Bastion falls short. Infiltration, which just came out on November 4th, 2016 to promote Sombra’s release as a new playable character in Overwatch, impresses. Despite the late release, it sets the protagonist up as part of the group by including previous films’ antagonists in the short, and uses them well - if sparingly - to keep it Sombra’s story. The Russian agent has a wit and charm about her, and proves she’s not just another villain by the end of the short. Her action scenes even rival Tracer’s in Alive with her similar-but-different porting powers, a prominent and striking use of purple and a dynamism to her movements. Blackmail and espionage entices and adds another layer on to an already rich world.

It’s hard to rank the films in a specific order because they all attempt and/or accomplish different things, but it’s safe to say that the ones with the particularly engaging action scenes, such as Alive and Infiltration, have a lot of influence over people watching them because of the Overwatch game or over people who just love animation. Films with the most resonating moments, like Recall and again Alive, also stand out. There are weaker entries in the series (Dragons and The Last Bastion), but overall the collection of shorts definitively impress. It’s unknown how or to what extent the Overwatch team will continue to flesh out the characters and the world, but a lot of people will be eagerly keeping an eye out for that. The worldly viewpoint and rich characters have people all over the world excited for whatever comes next, whether they play video games or not. Overwatch attempted something truly unique in the realm of video games, and in so doing created truly excellent content that anyone can enjoy. Though it has a special kind of impact for those with full context, it’s a testament that short films with so much ground to be cover achieve as well as they do. Highly recommended. -Matt O’Keefe

The Overwatch shorts are now available to watch on the YouTube channel PlayOverwatch

- In-Depth: Overwatch -

Top: It’s a matter of family in Dragons Middle: Is Soldier 76 a hero? (Hero) Bottom: Lush fields in The Last Bastion

- In-Depth: Overwatch -




The Invisible Man throws you in the middle of an intimate and intense life-and-death scenario. As the look of this still hints at, the film is shot for virtual reality. Placing you into this small room with that added immersiveness, The Invisible Man toys with you until the shocking finale. The future of film will inevitably include more VR experiences, and, with their quickfire nature, short films may be the optimal way to experiment with the technology. Intrigued? Then maybe keep an eye on Short...

- Introducing... -


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