Writer's Note: While these were not all of the films in this year's block, these were the films I was able to see. Unfortunately, due to timing, I was unable to see the films Birdman by directors Yixuan (Maisie) Luo and Yixing L. as well as Something in That Room by director Joshua Siegel. I apologize to those who worked on these films, as I didn't get to experience what I'm sure are wonderful projects, but it would be misleading of me to write about them without getting to see them myself.
The first film on the list is a very special one, as it was an opportunity granted to a very young director through the Make-A-Wish Foundation: Neshama Ryman, a young girl who has fought through some major medical issue to make a beautiful film inspired by her sister. The story focuses on a group of small creatures named the Klumz that are responsible for all of the messes created in the house. They spill drinks, knock things over, and generally make things tough. While they tend to not make things easy, these fun-loving creatures sure make for an entertaining time as the family enjoys making a brand new project out of the messes created by the Klumz. It's an adorable family tale that is a really wonderful thing to see from such a talented young creator.
You Are My Sunshine
This foreign film, by director Jun Jie Huang, focuses on the struggles of a young boy as he deals with the transition of moving from one home to the other. After living somewhere with lots of friends and a fun time, young J has found himself in a totally different world with a woman he barely knows after his caregiver falls ill. Now alone and forced to find his own fun, J makes his own entertainment while attempting to build a relationship with someone new. It's touching and sad in its own ways and shows how difficult life can be as a struggle to survive, all while trying to find something to be happy about.
A Birthday Card
While this entire block is focused mostly on youth, this one takes a slightly more adult turn, as a struggling mother of two is faced with a major decision. A single mom is taking care of her two boys with the help of her mother and boyfriend. Things take a major turn near her birthday, as the thankless tasks begin to pile up and she finds herself on the cusp of bringing a third child into the world. While not everyone knows of this decision, she attempts to make it herself and her world comes crashing down as her decisions and the reactions to them take things for a turn.
Writer/director Morgana McKenzie brought forth a very interesting film for this year's HollyShorts, combining what felt like a music video and a thrilling and creepy story of a group of girls who, using a Oujia board, bring a malignant spirit into the world. It follows these girls through a terrifying outdoor landscape, attempting to bring them to their doom. With music by Solomun, this short captures a mix of beauty, fear, and energy thanks to its young stars.
A young woman from Israel finds herself living in a world that seems to be of two minds, as a young Israeli woman named Lea finds herself entrenched in a world with refugees from Sudan. Despite the strain that the Israeli and Sudanese people have with one another, Lea finds herself falling for a young Sudanese refugee, and even though their cultures clash, they click and develop a relationship. Despite their happiness, her father disapproves and is shown to be right as word of Lea's act gets out and her life is changed through their reactions. It's a struggle of culture and perception and the consequences of actions in a time of turmoil.
Mary & Marsha in the Manor Of Madness
This is an adorable piece, full of life and silliness as our protagonists find themselves in a Lovecraftian nightmare of secret plots, cults, and tentacle monsters. Mixing the horror of Lovecraft with the mystery solving zaniness of Scooby-Doo, Mary and Marsha have to escape from the manor before whoever is inside uses them to fulfill their sinister tasks. While it has no dialogue, the story itself tells enough to show a fun romp, despite the aforementioned tentacle monsters.
After the Fall
Set in Jacksonville, After the Fall takes a look at the people of the world as a major cataclysmic event sets off a zombie apocalypse-esque tragedy that has befallen the world. Focusing on a young woman on a trip north, she finds that the broken world she now lives in might not be so bleak after all. Running around and surviving has hit her, and the rest of the world, pretty hard, and despite not seeing a single person for a few hundred days, Alexa finds someone to share her journey towards a potential cure with. While her dreams don't exactly materialize as she'd hoped, things begin to look up in a bleak world.