They predicted that great art would come out of a bad time, and they were right.
Who’s ‘they’? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that lockdown worked wonders for these six filmmakers, who made some of the funniest, insane, creative, and inspiring short films I had the pleasure of watching during a universally shitty time. Check them out below.
The pandemic was barely a few months old when Benjamin Berman, the director behind The Amazing Johnathan documentary, gifted us with this super funny five-minute short. Tapping into our collective anxieties, Berman put himself in the role of worried protagonist by reaching out to celebrities on Cameo for reassurance. Who knew a film that was 90% screen capture could be so funny, or that one would find solace in the wise words of Flava Fav. The Follow-Up was one of the first things that made me truly laugh about a shit time for mankind, ‘cause if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, right?
2020: An Isolation Odyssey
I’d like to poke around inside Lydia Cambron’s brain, because this completely original and painstakingly accurate reenactment of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, is one of the most wildly creative things I saw during Covid. Not only did Lydia film the whole thing, she also played the protagonist, meticulously mirroring every facial expression, gesture, angle and prop from the original 1968 scene. Watch the Covid-safe homage above, then go read our interview with Lydia on how she pulled it off here.
The Procession is a quiet film, but I like quiet films. The eight-minute observational short takes us to a high school graduation in North Carolina, where thousands of seniors are celebrating the end of school—from the safety of their vehicles. I’m not sure if this made me sad for what they missed out on or happy for the semblance of normalcy they were able to salvage, but either way, it’s a fascinating time capsule for history lessons a few decades down the track.
How to Be At Home
Another beautifully understated short that captures the feeling of being alone, together. Filmmaker Andrea Dorfman collaborated with poet Tanya Davis for this stop-motion animation created during an entire spring and summer of isolation, and it’s a must-watch—go on, hit play above.
Hobby is a month-by-month spiral into a wasteland of discarded Covid pastimes: cultivating plant life, getting a pet, working out, making pizza dough from scratch, going deep on YouTube conspiracy wormholes… feel seen yet? Filmmaker Colin Read comes through with one of the most uncomfortably relatable short films about the weird stuff we all did to keep ourselves from going insane inside, and the meta twist at the end is just the cherry on top of a brilliant short.
Stories in Place: 886
Stories in Place: 886 was part of a Vimeo series that saw eight filmmakers creating short films about the local business they love, and how they were surviving during the pandemic—and this was one of my favourites. Faced with closures, this NYC Taiwanese restaurant reached out to the internet for donations so that they could deliver bento boxes to healthcare workers and in doing so, keep their staff employed. Filmmaker Law Chen did an incredible job of capturing the resilience of New Yorkers and the hospitality in the most challenging of times.