The operating principle behind the following selection was: Gravity is good, but Moon is better.
#10 Alive in Joburg (2006)
Yes, Neill Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg is still one of the best sci-fi shorts of all time. The unique premise and documentary-style presentation of the movie has already become a part of film history.
Based on Alive in Joburg, Neill Blomkamp made District 9–the cult sci-fi commentary on the state of human societies around the world. The poverty of aliens was an unexplored theme for me until District 9. But its follow up, Elysium, was a total let down. The distinction between the poor and rich is never so simple. Nevertheless, Joburg is as relevant to the world right now as it was back in 2006.
Witness the birth of a cult. 6 minutes.
#9 Robots of Brixton (2011)
Kibwe Tabares’ Robots of Brixton paints a grim picture of humanity. The student film blurs the line between people and robots, and then goes on to effectively replace reduce us to the status of the robots. There is no God here and certainly no people.
Violence is a meditation on the nature of humanity, and perhaps the existence of God. That’s why riots and rebellions make a constant fixture in sci-fi films. Can machines feel guilt or have conscience? (Joshua Oppenheime’s The Act of Killing might provide an answer.)
Robots of Brixton is an abstract encounter with the mob. 5 minutes.
# 8 From the Future With Love (2013)
Science fiction is often an exaggerated expression of the reality, or the speculation about the fantastic. K-Michel Parandi’s short is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller set in a world where private cops sell protection plans in New York.
From the Future With Love holds a mirror to our society in 12 minutes.
#7 Lifeline (2010)
Andreas Salaff’s Lifeline is a film from the mind, for the heart, and with a soul! This award-winning student film can teach filmmakers a trick or two about the nature of simplicity and intimacy.
An old man keeps searching through various dimensions of time and space for his lost beloved. Can he turn back the wheel of time? Yes, but there is a price.
This is Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love in 6 minutes.
# 6 Memorize (2012)
Imagine a world where everyone is forced to wear a Google Glass and record everything they do. Sound horrible, right? Two childhood friends, Eric Ramberg and Jimmy Eriksson, took the idea one step ahead to come up with a stylish action film.
In Memorize, every person is implanted with a chip that records everything. But of course, it cannot deter techno-savvy criminals from committing crimes. Rest assured, Agent 007 will never be out of job!
Memorize is fun because it doesn’t pretend to take itself seriously. 7 minutes.
# 5 Grounded (2012)
An astronaut can’t escape the loop of a crash in a strange planet. Grounded is a beautiful piece of filmmaking even if you don’t consider the nerdy intentions of the superb director.
Kevin Margo said he wanted to tackle “themes of aging, inheritance, paternal approval, cyclic trajectories, and behaviors passed on through generations… against an ethereal backdrop.”
Grounded is a short metaphor, which captures the essence of films like Stanley Kubric’s 2001 Odyssey, Andrei Tarkovksy’s Stalker and Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life.
It is a speculative poem on the film. 8 minutes.
# 4 The Final Moments of Carl Brant (2013)
Duncan Jones’ Source Code starts to look like a cliché after you watch Matthew Wilson’s The Final Moments of Carl Brant, loosely based on The Singularity is Near by author Ray Kurzweilwhich.
When Carl Brant is killed, his memory stored on a hard drive is summoned to help solve the murder case. This one is probably the longest short film in this list but I’m sure no one is complaining.
Do machines have souls? You have 16 minutes to find out.
#3 Cargo (2013)
What is science if not the ability to think, rationalize and come up with creative solutions for difficult problems?
Cargo directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke have found a novel way to turn the cliché-plagued zombie genre into a visual treat. Finally, a zombie film which breathes fresh life to the genre of the living dead.
Cargo is a hi-res definition of fatherhood in 7 minutes.
#2 The Flying Man (2013)
Forget Zack Synder’s realistic Man of Steel. Watch the super-realistic Marcus Alqueres’ The Flying Man. While Man of Steelwas tedious at times, there is never a dull moment in The Flying Man. It keeps you hooked right from the beginning.
Shot in eyewitness video style, The Flying Man makes us want to believe in the possibility of the premise and the existence of a superhero. I think Alan Moore was the last person who pulled it off so convincingly in the first few pages of Watchmen.
Marcus Alqueres has worked in Hollywood blockbusters like 300 and Source Code, while his partner João Sita has movies like Avatar and Twilight on his belt.
The Flying Man is 9 minutes of cosmic orgasm!
#1 R’ha (2013)
R’ha could be for Kaleb Lechowski what Alive in Joburg was for Neill Blomkamp: the short film that launched his Hollywood career, a wild ticket to his dream run.
In R’ha, we see something totally unexpected: aliens vs machines. Kaleb takes the usual tropes of science fictionfantasy and turns them into a groundbreaking film.
It’s hard to believe that he’s just a 22-year-old German bloke studying digital film design when you watch this epic short film.
R’ha is 6 minutes of youthful, confident and unrestrained tour de force.
Written in April, 2014