Short Film Studies

Published by Intellect
Print ISSN: 2042-7824
Intimacy is a defining feature of the short film's mode of address. Both the context in which shorts circulate and the structural limits of the short film form construct a relationship of intimacy between film-maker and audience which echoes that of the art film as defined by Bordwell.
From a gendered perspective, Alumbramiento is a traditional Oedipal scenario. However, in spite of the supposed ahistoricism of its Freudian overtones, they could and should be read as having profoundly social implications. If, on the individual level of one family, the film explores the death of the matriarch and the emotional and practical impact it has on her son and daughter, at the more collective level it extends to the issue of ageing Europe and the question of who is doing the caring. As such the film reinforces the gendered division of caring labour where it is women who carry its burden.
This essay explores the ways in which Derailment evokes - primarily in light and sound - the air of the Paris Métro: the distinctive scent of the subway system, the movement of air through tunnels, platforms and carriages, and the sharing of that air with others who move through the space.
By mixing industrial, metallic sounds and organic, throaty sounds, Kitchen Sink creates an acoustic universe that is at once repulsive and alluring. The article takes a phenomenological and deep listening approach to investigate how the soundtrack of Kitchen Sink contributes to the ambiguous narrative of the film.
Although the title Alumbramiento references childbirth, children are conspicuously absent throughout the film: motherhood defines Maria, but not her children. In framing death by referencing the absence of children, the film also comments on the discontinuous nature of the post-Francoist Spanish family.
History, memory and tragedy are the three words usually used to describe the Shoah - three words that seem absolutely impossible to question, much less play with. However, in his beautiful short film, With Raised Hands, Mitko Panov manages to subvert what we consider untouchable.
This dramaturgic analysis of Undressing My Mother shows that it is largely by putting the viewer into a position reminiscent of that of a small child that the film manages to open the viewer's eyes wide enough to see beyond the flesh and behold a mother.
Older women are usually not the subjects of film but Ken Wardrop's Undressing My Mother uses a variety of strategies including defamiliarization, voice-over and the separation of sound and image to disrupt the conventional ways of viewing and understanding older women and thus create a cultural space for exploring such subjectivities.
The film is discussed within the frame of memoir films that explore the body. The relationship between son and mother is discussed in terms of the relationship between voice and image, and the film's structure is analysed in terms of the relationship between the son-and-mother dyad and the spectator. The film is located within a tradition of memoir films.
An effective public service announcement has to be more than aesthetically brilliant. It must raise awareness and motivate viewers to action. In a focus group of 50 participants, 27 say Village fails as effective communication. This can be explained by psychological differences in the perception of information.
This article argues that Nina Mimica's The War Is Over achieves structural completeness on the basis of a number of choices regarding its visual style: shot scale, shot length, editing style and camera movement.
Short films are no longer celluloid but software, and, following Deleuze, the most interesting short films no longer deal in movement but in time. These are not little movies but full-length timies. This article makes the case for a new critical approach to the short film.
Undressing My Mother is a moving portrait of one woman's love of her aging body. The film provides a visual poetics of aging by treating the body as a landscape that embodies the passage of time.
Following the tradition of Italian neo-realism, Nina Mimica's poignant The War Is Over captures something of the horror and the emotional suffering of war, in a deceptively simple, yet powerfully expressed and dynamically realized, parable. This article will explore how the film historicizes war to produce a powerfully universal statement.
Ken Wardrop takes up the challenge of exploring the naked body of his own mother while sustaining what Edgar Allan Poe defined as the 'unity of effect'. The emotional impact brought about by the mother's final outpouring is the last touch that justifies the aesthetic choices made by the director.
There is one brief sonic element in the soundtrack of Miles Goodall's Village that, despite its short duration, works to subtly recalibrate the meaning of all that surrounds it: a recorded sound played in reverse. This essay describes how that sound was invested with occult meaning and thus shaped its strategic implementation in Village .
This analysis of Body Memory will discuss the significance of the railway track. I argue that, just as Pikkov’s string figures embody memory, so his train lines function as cinematic lieux de mémoire, evoking at once the technological hopes of modernity and their part in humanity’s destruction.
This article argues that animated film is a legitimate artistic vehicle to represent and memorialize the Holocaust, and that the use of animation heightens the impact of and emotional response to the events portrayed in Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto.
This article explores the depiction of memory, death, trauma and bodies in order to argue that the physical and historical limits are erased. Memory and trauma are imprinted in the physical body but they transgress the normal limitations, death included, as we witness the return of the animated/living dead.
Body Memory treats collective memories of World War II and the Soviet occupation of Estonia. The article argues that the film’s attempt to negotiate national and international perspectives on this issue echoes the difficulties of integrating Eastern European historical experiences in a contemporary European memory culture dominated by Holocaust studies.
Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto will be considered here in the light of two radically different views of the relationship between art and the Holocaust – one proposed by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, the other by the film-maker Alain Resnais.
Representing the Holocaust raises fundamental questions regarding the almost impossible task of reproducing a specific ‘reality’ on-screen. Animation provides an environment that is both realistic and metaphoric and thus it enables the viewer to imagine the claustrophobic reality of life in the Warsaw Ghetto and access an emotional truth.
Using choreography as a conceptual framework involving movement vocabulary and syntax and examining the spatial relationships between bodies, this analysis focuses on the ways in which the movements of the animated characters in this film effectively evoke a sense of dread and confinement.
This article explores the generic hybridity of Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto, as it unites aesthetic and historical elements. The film is an example of what Claude Lanzmann calls ‘a fiction of the real’, in which the elements of aesthetic and documentary are differently aligned from those in Shoah (1985).
Body Memory confronts the viewer with a tale of deported people’s experience of hopelessness and terror. In this article, I engage with the film and analyse elements of its concrete cinematic practice, in order to investigate how it achieves symbolic significance and universality.
In feature-length Holocaust cinema, viewers witness two hours of harrowing events, before being pacified with an ending providing some comfort and relief; often undermining what has gone before. However, in short-film Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto, this structure is reversed, fitting perfectly with the medium to provide a stronger, lasting impact.
The literal and/or figurative violation of the human eye has been a striking figure of cinema since its inception, reflecting back on the act of spectatorship itself. Here, an uncanny confrontation between our role as spectators and how we ‘see’ history takes place directly through the eyes of a child.
The primary source of terror in Body Memory emerges from the lack of materiality underneath the unravelling body. Using Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concept of the ‘body-without-organs’ this article discusses the biopolitical implications of representing the body as an assemblage of string.
This article begins with a phenomenological description of the perception of the soundtrack in Body Memory: what is heard and what do the sounds express. Inspired by cognitive semantics, it then continues to present this perception as linked to the listener’s body memory.
A multi-layered film, The T-Shirt investigates the relationship between violence and ideology in American society, tackling how the insidious reach of Americanization via the global dissemination of popular culture and iconography can result in vastly different understandings of US culture and its foreign policies.
This article describes the advantages of teaching Agnès Varda’s early short film L’Opéra-Mouffe , known in English as Diary of a Pregnant Woman , in an introductory course on film form. This award-winning, sixteen-minute film offers a compelling demonstration of the core characteristics of the essay film, along with readily teachable examples of visual metaphor, cinematography, sound, and editing. Its cultural and auteurist contexts can also complement a variety of curricular topics, including the French New Wave and Left Bank creators, post-war France, and feminist filmmaking. Finally, its focus on Varda’s personal experience of pregnancy also makes L’Opéra-Mouffe an ideal vehicle to introduce radical feminist pedagogies that recognize and value personal experience as a valid way of knowing about the world.
This article reappraises Agnès Varda’s formative career as she made Du Côté de la côte in 1958. To do this, it explores Varda’s situation within the post-war French film ecosystem before the French New Wave, how she engaged key practices of that overlooked era. By studying the ways Varda directly cites peer productions in Du Côté de la côte , we reveal her as heir to, and in dialogue with, a number of significant but neglected practitioners, notably women like Nicole Vedrès, Jacqueline Jacoupy and Yannick Bellon. Extrapolating from these creative protocols, we can properly gauge Varda’s primary, and long-term, affinities for short films and essay films, two formats that film studies is often reluctant to recognize, let alone canonize. Nourishing Varda’s work as a post-war short film essayist, we will also discover how applied cinephilia – intertextual deployments of film history that catalyse actual filmmaking – informed Varda’s professional rise.
This article explores how Agnès Varda’s short films Ydessa, les ours et etc… (2004) and Ulysse (1983) examine the role of the photograph in relation to memory and the past. Although the photos that each film scrutinizes have been produced and exhibited under different circumstances, they are alike in providing opportunities for Varda to inquire about their status as archival documents and interrogate the versions of the (sometimes idealized) pasts they appear to depict. While there are pleasures, in both films, for viewers gazing at such imagery, both films advocate a more reflexive approach to the fantasized histories and imagined stories on offer.
This article examines Kenya’s first science fiction film, Pumzi (2009), a 21-minute short. The film has attracted extensive academic commentary. This study discusses the academic response and its ideological focus. Using six related categories that help place films in their historical context ‐ Anthropos, Topos, Chronos, Logos, Techne and Genos ‐ it seeks to widen the appreciation of the film’s contribution to the genre and to highlight the visual achievement of its auteur, Wanuri Kahiu.
In this article, I examine the film style of Yasmin Ahmad’s short film Chocolate (2009) by looking specifically at its production design component. Through the application of design intensity theory, the abstract function of film style theory and Viktor Shklovsky’s ostranenie (defamiliarization) concept, my examination reveals that production design through the patterning of everyday objects as props (kitchen utensils, a plastic food cover, AA batteries, a baby milk bottle and a chocolate bar) in Chocolate functions more than denoting the setting of the story and enhancing the reality effect. It also works to visualize abstract ideas about the ambivalent possibilities of interracial–interfaith relationships in contemporary Malaysia.
The article analyzes the 1999 short film Cock Fight from a 2015 perspective. It argues that in the late 1990s its ending seemed pessimistic. However, in retrospect, with the total collapse of trust between Israelis and Palestinians, the way out of the encounter at the checkpoint looks almost desirable.
The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic influenced many aspects of film production, which is especially visible in the example of local cinematographies. In this article, I investigate pandemic influence on depicting homeland, memory and locality in Sámi short films. The primary concern in the pre-2000 Sámi short films was the marginalization of Sámi culture, as well as tradition-modernization oppositions. However, in the productions from 2020, a switch into the discourse about the homeland and coping with pandemic in the far north is visible. In this article, I describe productions from 2020, dividing them into three thematic categories: films about the return to the homeland, films focusing on lockdown isolation and films based on genre conventions (such as comedy or horror), used for creating a discursive approach to pandemic. In the proposed article, I analyse Sámi films from the collection of International Sámi Film Institute, produced in Norway, Sweden or Finland.
The globalized any-place, no-place atmosphere, underscored by monochrome cinematography and bare settings, allows the story to function as an allegory of the contemporary world. The satirical attitude subverts the dominant discourse and questions common beliefs through witty exchanges, while the punchline ending offers a form of liberation and psychic release.
This article compares the ending of The Beach with that of The 400 Blows in order to demonstrate how ambiguity arises from the interrelationship between style and narrative in art cinema. Ambiguity requires audience interpretation, which in The Beach leads to poignant reflection on the nature of domestic violence.
This article examines the presence of two concurrent elements in Eating Out – abjection and nostalgia, and explores the way in which they work together to shape the temporal identity of a space. The article argues that abjection functions throughout this short film to safeguard nostalgia and slowness as identity markers.
Flimmer renders visible the intermediary spaces or the ‘spaces in-between’ its underlying components. It advances a world that grows out of absence, discontinuity and division.
Top-cited authors
Caroline Ruddell
  • Brunel University London
Lars Pynt Andersen
  • Aalborg University
Florentina Andreescu
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Conn Holohan
  • University of Galway
Charles Forceville
  • University of Amsterdam