As a filmmaker, we all start somewhere and somewhere is at making short films whether those are narrative or documentaries. The Nashville Film Festival provided a lot of incredible short films provided by their virtual cinema component this year. Now, I honestly cannot make a review for every single short I watched that I want to talk about because I would spam the site. So without a further ado let’s get into this master post of reviews of short films I was able to watch at the Nashville Film Festival this year!
Águilas (2021), directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Maite Zubiaurre
Águilas takes the viewer right into the journey for migrants who have gone missing while they are travelling through the Arizona desert. Our titular group is an organization that helps locate lost migrants who disappeared while on their journey through the desert. This film is masterful in so many ways. I had shivers going down my spine at specific moments that I am still thinking about now. The film works so well at taking you right into the heat of the rescue mission. They detail everything that they are looking for in order to track down these lost people. This is such a powerful and important documentary that I am not surprised it took the winner of Best Documentary Short at the festival. You do not want to miss this one whenever it becomes available.
Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma (2021), directed by Topaz Jones, Simon Davis, and Jason Sondock
Now, this film right here until I watched a certain film from tis festival was my favorite for a bit. Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma is exuberant in every aspect possible from its rich cinematography to its beautifully poetic structure. This documentary influenced by the Black ABC’s aims high with its ambition and hits every single mark available. This one had my attention through it all and never lost me. It felt like it was highly influenced by the films of Marlon T. Riggs. A delight of short documentary and just so important beyond comprehension.
Burros, directed by Jefferson Stein
Burros is a beautiful film about friendship and the dark realities of the immigrant experience. Throughout this film, we view the friendship between an indigenous child who befriends a migrant child who lost her way through the desert and cannot find her father. All while the indigenous child’s father’s work is closely related to the US Border Patrol in the area. We look the two blossom a beautiful friendship no matter their inability to communicate due to a language barrier. The film aims to discuss the immigrant experience and the harsh realities of it. It is expertly crafted by such compelling cinematography and beautiful performances by our cast. This film warmed my heart but at the same time decided to stomp on it.
I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face, directed by Sameh Alaa
This is my favorite film of the festival and what I believe to be one of the most riveting pieces of art I have seen this year. From the very beginning I am invested in this film about loss, love, and a repressive government. We embark on a journey as a man tries his hardest to be able to see his dead partner while not being allowed by his government to see her. The film is crafted with some of the most claustrophobic cinematography that is reminiscent of Son of Saul. This thought provoking film blew me away in every way possible and has left still shook to my very core.
Chuj Boys of Summer, directed by Max Walker-Silverman
As I round out these reviews of some excellent short films you’re probably thinking, “Raul why are you not ending this on the film you literally just called the best of the festival?” Well, I was planning on that until I watched this beautiful film. I can sit and explain so much about the immigrant experience based on many of my family’s lived experience but this film does it so well in such a short timeframe. Everything from the homesickness to the desire to want more out of life that is not just work. This short is so beautiful in every way and we truly watch a coming of age story about a teenager who just wants to be given an opportunity to flourish like everyone else. It is so important to also have a film that has their protagonists speaking throughout the whole film in an indigenous language.
All of these short films are so special in their own way. Each of these films are different in their own way like genre, execution, and story. All of these films are movies that you all should keep an eye out for once they are publicly released. Once again, thank you to Nashville Film Festival for giving us this opportunity and here is to more festival coverage to come!