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Award-Winning Shorts You Can Stream Right Now, Part 2

Big stars shine brightly in short films: Tom Burke and "Game of Thrones"'s Natalie Dormer in the irresistible comedy "The Brunchers" / Photo courtesy of Yes Repeat No Films.

Big stars shine brightly in short films: Tom Burke and "Game of Thrones"'s Natalie Dormer in the irresistible comedy "The Brunchers" / Photo courtesy of Yes Repeat No Films.

The hits keep on coming on Popflick. We already shared a primer of award-winning shorts on Popflick, and other streaming services, but we have so many of them that a single blog post was not enough. We love to raise awareness of these cool little movies and allow you to watch them. Theaters' commitment to feature-length works makes it maddeningly difficult for audiences to find them. Shorts should not be only for film critics and the privileged few with access to film festivals! So, take them in one at a time when you have a few minutes to unwind or binge when you have more substantial downtime. The whiplash you experience when you jump from one genre to another is part of the fun!

Art House Bits of Excelence

Mother in The Mist

You might experience some PTSD just remembering how Coronavirus upended life as we knew it by watching this ghostly thriller. It takes you to Wuhan, China, just as the pandemic shutdown begins. A mother runs against the clock to retrieve her stillborn baby from the hospital before authorities enforce the lockdown. Along the way, she picks up an abandoned little girl. You think you know what’s coming, but trust me, you don’t. Director Kay Niuyue Zhang is a USC graduate. She packs an emotional punch unusual for such a compact narrative.

"Mother in The Mist" won Best Woman Student Filmmaker - West Region, at the DGA Student Film Awards. Also, Best Cinematography and Best Short of The Season, at the Indie Short Fest, 2022.

Watch "Mother in The Mist" free on Popflick.

Motherly courage: Shen Shiyu and Wang Xiwen drive against the impending COVID shutdown in "Mother in The Mist" / Photo courtesy of KKZ Production LLC.

Motherly courage: Shen Shiyu and Wang Xiwen drive against the impending COVID shutdown in "Mother in The Mist" / Photo courtesy of KKZ Production LLC.

Filipiñana

A country club in the Philippines is startlingly revelatory of society's inequity in the developing world in Rafael Manuel's fascinating movie. Jorrybell Agoto is a "tee girl," an entry position that locks her in the soul-crushing job of putting golf balls on tees for people practicing their swing. Up on the ladder, she finds indifferent caddies, cold supervisors, and zealous servers guarding tempting pastries from hungry plebes. All the women are harbingers of what this kind of life has in store for the young woman. They all interact under the oblivious gaze of the privileged customers they serve. The contemplative, languid pace and the carefully composed shots mark the movie as prime Art House fare. The richness and compassion of his vision make the director a talent to follow. Movie buff, take notice.

"Filipiñana" won the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Short Film at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival. Also, the Best Live Action Short Silver Hugo, Chicago International Film Festival. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2021 AFI Fest 2022. Nominated as Best Student Short Film at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

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Fifteen

Sameh Alaa's heart-wrenching family drama is as emotionally contained as its protagonist. Ahmed El Amir is a stoic, grave teenager tasked with caring for an alarmingly young baby. He leaves their home to hop on a friend's bike and hitch a ride to a hospital. Alaa brings forth dignified suspense from observing what are, ultimately, daily and mundane actions: the boy crosses a busy street without any traffic signal in sight. As they dart through the chaotic Cairo streets, he precariously sandwiches the baby between his body and the bike driver. It's an understated edge-of-your-seat moment.

They arrive at a hospital, where an offscreen doctor lines out the tragic circumstances that left a child caring for a child. In a feature film, this dump of verbal information might register as a dramatic shortcut, but it's a necessity in a short film like this. The core of the film is in the first, wordless part, where we draw in our heads the parameters of the story by mere implications based on the actions of the character and the place he inhabits. This exercise of active viewership expands the short beyond the limits of its compact plot. The coda, where the boy gently bathes the baby, lets you imagine the contours of their uncertain future.

‘Fifteen” won the Canal+ Short Film Award at the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best International Short Film at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Short Cut Award.

Watch ‘Fifteen” free on Popflick

Big brother: Ahmed el Amir gets a little help from pal Ahmed Abd el Razek in "Fifteen" / Photo courtesy of Sameh Alaa & Bekke Films.

Big brother: Ahmed el Amir gets a little help from pal Ahmed Abd el Razek in "Fifteen" / Photo courtesy of Sameh Alaa & Bekke Films.

Flashes of Thrills & Chills

Three

For all the thrills and chills that horror conveys, the genre has a moralistic strain that comes to the forefront in “Three.” Perhaps the narrative economy demanded by the short form gives the filmmaker less leeway to hide the agenda. This is a prime example of indie horror movies. Paul Cotton (Peter Graham) is an office drone desperate to make a deal with the devil in exchange for power, money, and love. A terrifying voice answers his call via an old analog telephone - the ringing is scarier than the demonic sign drawn in blood on a wall. The voice demands the blood of three innocent victims, one for each desire. The protagonist does not seem to know the devil is a trickster. In just a few minutes, director Jordan Miller distills a parable on corruption that could feed an entire feature film.

"Three" is the Winner of the Best Horror Film Award at the "Short.Sweet." Film Fest US, and the Best Overall Short at the Nightmares Film Festival Award.

Watch "Three" free on Popflick.

The devil will hook you up: Paul Cottman calls the dark side in "Three" / Photo courtesy of Jordan Miller.

The devil will hook you up: Paul Cottman calls the dark side in "Three" / Photo courtesy of Jordan Miller.

Coyote

Fans of Dennis Villeneuve’s “Sicario” (2015) and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s “Babel” (2006) will enjoy this involving border drama. It all begins with a young woman escaping from human traffickers. A mob boss interrogates one of his henchmen under the blinding desert sun. White American backpackers get into more than they bargained for by crossing illegally to Mexico. A bodyguard faces a difficult moral choice. Director Mark Grabianowski packs a lot of drama in a swift 15 minutes short, blessed by the chilling performance of Caesar James as the big, bad gangster.

"Coyote" is the Winner of the Platinum Remi Award at WorldFest Houston and Best Cinematography & Best FX at the Top Indie Film Awards. It received an Honorable Mention for Short Film at the Los Angeles Movie Awards.

Watch "Coyote" free on Popflick.

Immigration horror: Jesse Charles and Clinton Roper Elledge cross paths with Diana Dorenz Campos as she runs away from an evil human trafficker in "Coyote" / Photo courtesy of Marked House Pictures.

Immigration horror: Jesse Charles and Clinton Roper Elledge cross paths with Diana Dorenz Campos as she runs away from an evil human trafficker in "Coyote" / Photo courtesy of Marked House Pictures.

Cole & Colette

Hold your sympathy in check while a young woman freaks out at the possibility that a killer stalks outside her house and may turn her into his next victim. Meanwhile, her boyfriend speeds through the 20 minutes that separates him from the place. Will he arrive in time to prevent a tragedy? The final twist is so twisted that it will keep your head spinning through the final credits and beyond. You may want to see the whole thing again. It’s not too big a commitment. At barely six minutes of running time, a second viewing is not too big an indulgence.

"Cole & Colette" won Best Short Film, Best Director (Matthew Bode), Best Actress (Becca Buckalew), Best Writer (Hacker Jones), and Best Music at the FFTG Awards.

When a stranger prowls: Becca Buckalew sharpens her personal defense skills in "Cole & Colette" / Photo courtesy of Absurd Hero Productions.

When a stranger prowls: Becca Buckalew sharpens her personal defense skills in "Cole & Colette" / Photo courtesy of Absurd Hero Productions.

The Rat

Is Vasily Chuprina the most versatile director on Popflick? You can build a good case supporting this idea. We have already exalted the metaphysical horror of “Those Beautiful Moments” (2019) and the moving period drama of “The Boy And The Sea” (2016), which are available to stream on Popflick. Also, check out this police thriller, set inside a patrol car during a tense stakeout operation. Jonté Le Gras, Joel Bryant, and Allen Perada are three cops locked in a battle of wits to discover an informant. The ruthless drug trafficker they spy on might slip just the right clue in his rants. This is like a full season of a crime series condensed in 8 minutes.

"The Rat" won the Platinum Award for Independent Short Subject - Film & Video - Suspense Thriller at WorldFest Houston. Also, Best Short Film The Indie Gathering International Film Festival. It played in the Official Selection of the International New York Film Festival.

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Truth in Documentary

Kylie

The Los Angeles Times brands this atmospheric portrait of ballet dancer Kylie Jefferson. We see her in full tutu drag striking poses in the urban settings of L.A., the city she calls home. "I'm a ballerina, and the hood loves me," she says as she strikes poses on the beach, the parking lot of a mini-mart, and the backyard of a house. Aerial drone shots bring a God-like point of view that casts this all-too-real young woman as an apparition. Her testimony, delivered in voiceover, grounds her in reality. The contrast challenges our prejudices towards the ballet world, which is not as precious as the frills suggest, and urban neighborhoods, which are not as rough as politicians would want you to believe. "Kylie" packs a lot in its fleet, five minutes running time. Adam Shattuck's beautiful cinematography makes black and white movies proud.

"Kylie" won a Special Mention for Cinematography at the AFI Fest 2022. It was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short Film and nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival 2023.

Watch "Kylie" free on Popflick.

Tutus in the 'hood: Kiley Jefferson brings classic ballet home in "Kylie" / Photo courtesy of Clash of The Artistic Minds LLC.

Tutus in the 'hood: Kiley Jefferson brings classic ballet home in "Kylie" / Photo courtesy of Clash of The Artistic Minds LLC.

A Little Romance, A Lot Of Comedy

Pink Grapefruit

It's a twisted romantic comedy with a cool California vibe. A married couple goes on a weekend outing to Palm Springs, bringing along two friends they want to set up romantically. The woman (Andy McColm) is prone to sabotaging relationships. The man (Nathan Stewart) exudes nervous energy. The match is bound to fail, but they inadvertently turn the tables on their hosts. Don't let the sunny ambiance fool you. There is a dark undercurrent in this peppy little short, blessed by the presence of Matt Peters as the husband. The actor is better known as the dirtbag workshop manager Luscheck in Netflix's "Orange is The New Black" (2013-2019). The fact that Peter looks like Chris Pratt before going through Marvel's bodybuilding regime only adds to the humor.

"Pink Grapefruit" won the Grand Jury Prize Narrative Short at the SXSW Film Festival. It was nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize for Best Live Action Short Film at AFI Fest 2015.

Hot romantic setup: Wendy McColm and Nathan Stewart-Jarret take in the sun in "Pink Grapefruit" / Photo courtesy of Divide Conquer.

Hot romantic setup: Wendy McColm and Nathan Stewart-Jarret take in the sun in "Pink Grapefruit" / Photo courtesy of Divide Conquer.

Summer Hit

As far as student projects go, this is delightful, perhaps because it is so frank and unaffected about university student’s lives. Spanish spitfire Laia (Martina Roura) and taciturn Icelandic nerd Emil (Atli Benedikt) fall into an uncommitted but passionate affair while enjoying a summer abroad in Munich. As their days together wind down, pressure to take stock of their relationship increases. Berthold Wahjudi’s cracking comedy has an attentive eye for the small details of life as a young person adrift in a foreign land, supported by strangers as foreign as you. Roura and Benedikt have a volatile chemistry. The actress is a real find.

"Summer Hit" won the Best Live Action Short over 15 Minutes at the Palm Springs International ShortFest and the Audience Award at the Angers European First Film Awards. It was also nominated for the Grand Jury Award Narrative Short at the SXSW Film Festival.

Sentimental education: Martina Roura gets some love season in "Summer Hit" / Photo courtesy of Gute Zeit Film and the University of Television and Film Munich.

Sentimental education: Martina Roura gets some love season in "Summer Hit" / Photo courtesy of Gute Zeit Film and the University of Television and Film Munich.

The Brunchers

“Games of Thrones” (2011 - 2019) fans, take heart. Natalie Dormer, the late, lamented Margaret Tyrell, is back on your screens as a modern-day Londoner desperately trying to reach the right, trendy spot for Sunday brunch. Her partner in life and gastronomic adventure is Tom Burke, the exciting actor who stole Art House sensation “The Souvenir” (Joanna Hogg, 2019) from none other than Tilda Swinton. The dashing Rufus Sewell supports the new generation of actors. Big stars are not slumming when they tackle short low budget movies like this one. They are having a blast. This is a charming satire about the anxiety over retaining hipness as we grow up and old.

"The Brunchers" won the Special Jury Award at Aspen Shortest.

Fighting the Lannisters in "Games of Thrones" is nothing compared to finding a table at a restaurant: Tom Burke and Natalie Dormer are "The Brunchers" / Photo courtesy of Yes Repeat No Films.

Fighting the Lannisters in "Games of Thrones" is nothing compared to finding a table at a restaurant: Tom Burke and Natalie Dormer are "The Brunchers" / Photo courtesy of Yes Repeat No Films.

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