NYWIFT Online Shorts Festival Review

NYWIFT (New York Women in Film and Television) is offering some great content in their 3rdannual online shorts festival. Some of these shorts exist at the site as trailers only, but many of the films are freely available. In a few weeks the whole shebang promises to be totally available in partnership with ROKU. For a taste of what’s to come, check out a few gems in the current offerings. 

My favorite in the bunch is a short drama entitled As Shadows. Sometimes short filmmakers are actually feature filmmakers without enough money for a longer film. They stuff their big ideas into a small frame and the results are less than interesting. Sometimes, though, a filmmaker embraces the short form and comes up with something great. They take a moment in time, a pivotal moment, and shine a light on it. That is the essence of a great short film.

Such is the case with As Shadows. In this story, while a young woman is out selling flowers for a cult in the dead of night she runs afoul of a prostitution concern. The question becomes: which form of slavery should she choose? 

It’s an incredibly well done short with excellent writing. In addition it was shot superbly, with stellar acting and immaculate editing. It’s considered a suspense story. Not sure why, except that we’re not really sure what’s going on at first. In fact, at the beginning I was convinced it was going to be another ugh! vampire story. Surprise! It’s a serious drama. A second viewing cleared up any mystery still remaining after the first run-through. A perfect little film.

Documentaries are even harder to encapsulate in a short time frame. They tackle thorny issues and need time to build an argument and present facts. The NYWIFT doc winner, All I See Is The Future, does in 14 minutes what a usual documentary would require 90 minutes for. 

It’s one of those rare films that is so uplifting all thoughts of humanity’s downward spiral will be banished to the cornfield. It doesn’t just give you hope, but also a roadmap to enlightenment.

The cream doesn’t always rise to the top as some lucky people will have you believe. Some children are born into impossible situations from which it is nigh impossible to escape. It’s frightening how many bright people are lost in the vicissitudes of poverty. 

All I See Is The Future is the story of one young man born into drug culture, sent to prison, released, and eventually sent back to prison. But he is intelligent, caring, and hard-working. His boss takes a chance with him and sticks with him. She pushes him to get his education. We’re left with a happy ending. Where is the formula to make this happen on a regular basis? It’s not rocket science. How do we break the cycle of poverty? Really loved this film.

And then there are the webseries. Webseries represent a new artform that to me seems basically disposable, as so much internet content is. A typical webseries might be big today but tomorrow forgotten. It doesn’t seem like a particularly fortifying situation, and yet, creating a webseries is an artform.

My pick from the NYWIFT festival is a thing called Bumbld. The subject matter is a bit of a cliché: a young Jewish woman in modern day NYC. She’s shallow and has a funny mother. Yawn. And yet, I was pleasantly surprised.

The writing and acting are both great, but the real star here is the editing. The series is trés binge-worthy and at 14 minutes for the whole thing, you don’t even have to give up any of your life to watch it.

Like a lot of webseries, it’s light and profane. Mind candy for the Internet addicted. But it’s a perfect example of what can be done when done right. Kudos to Amanda Bear (Writer, Director, Producer, Actress). Keep workin’ it girl.

And indeed kudos to all the filmmakers in the shorts festival. Find the content at: https://www.nywift.org/nywift-3rd-annual-online-shorts-festival/ . Go get some inspiration to shoot your own short.

Here’s a couple from our vault: A Perfect You, and Traffic Opera.

And if you’re into trailers, try the one from Dust Nuggets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZzWbleVa5M&t=7s.

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