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Top 3 of 2022

Programmers & curators

notes by Laurence Boyce

Top 3 of 2022

Inspired by countless ‘year end’ lists that tended to ignore the short film format, the following list is an attempt to redress the balance whilst also giving those in the short film industry a chance to ruminate on the films that resonated with them on a personal basis. The idea originated some years ago and is now arriving at Talking Shorts, introducing a new yearly tradition for the magazine. For the first time, the list will be divided into separate sections, namely Programmers, Critics and Filmmakers. It's a particular welcome to include a large number of filmmakers, something that has been lacking in the lists of the past. Talking Shorts would like to express its gratitude for all who responded.

This list originated by Laurence Boyce as a Top 5 some years ago, consecutively published by Cineuropa and Kinoscope. Arriving at Talking Shorts, the list is now a Top 3, designed to give often busy respondents more of an opportunity to share their thoughts on the films as well as giving it all a tighter focus.

The list has never been interested in being a definitive ‘best of’ the year – short films have always resisted the ranking and five star ratings that are often associated with the world of mainstream features. But with shorts still being hugely un(der)represented, the list presents an opportunity to celebrate and shine a light on those films that deserve to be lauded.

Each respondent was given a choice of three films. No ranking was required, so each list is not necessarily in order. Since release dates are especially fluid in the short film world, respondents were asked to choose films that “came to prominence in 2022.” Exactly what that meant remained under each individual’s purview. Each list therefore also remains the choice of the individuals who responded and it (and the motivations therein) do not necessarily reflect that of the organisation(s) they work for.

First up: programmers and curators!


Jason AndersonEddie BertozziClémence BragardSimone BardoniLaurence BoyceJohn CancianiViviana CarletGianluca CastelliniRimante DaugelaiteMiguel DiasFlorian FernandezAnne GaschützOana GheraThomas GrimshawDaniel Hadenius-EbnerCamille Herbert-BenazetMaike Mia HöhnePhilip IlsonMathieu JanssenNicolas KhabbazInja KoraćJukka-Pekka LaaksoVincent LangoucheJaime E. ManriqueEmilia MazikKyrylo MarikutsaIokaim MylonasChristoffer OdeLisa OgdieAneta OzorekIgor PasselÉmilie PoirierFransiska PrihadiLaura QuartoCarlos RamosNina RodriguezJulie RoussonRen ScateniSven SchwarzAnita SvingenAlberto ValverdeCarla VulpianiClaudio Zilleruelo Acra

[Click a name to discover their respective list]

Jason Anderson, programmer TIFF - Toronto International Film Festival, Aspen Shortsfest
⟟ Canada

‘Snow In September’ by Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir (Mongolia, France - 2022, 20’): Besides being gorgeous to look at, the film is remarkably astute in its exploration of some very murky corners of adolescent sexuality and in its frankness about the ways we learn how to treat other people and to subsume their needs and desires into our own.

‘All-Inclusive’ (‘Todo includio’) by Duván Duque Vargas (Colombia, France - 2022, 20’): A real knockout for the quality and strength of its performers (who I was astonished to learn were largely non-professionals) and as a heartbreaking reminder that the most crucial relationships in our lives are sometimes the most fragile.

‘Ice Merchants’ by João Gonzalez (Portugal, United Kingdom, France - 2022, 14’): Beautiful. Economical. Resonant.

Eddie Bertozzi, programmer Locarno Film Festival
⟟ Italy

‘By Flávio’ by Pedro Cabeleira (Portugal, France - 2022, 27’): A thought-provoking exploration of social-media bodies and their disquieting sensuality. An investigation around sexual desires as mediated through small screens, and about social media as weapons for alienated acts of vengeance against life and the world.

‘Will My Parents Come To See Me’ by Mo Harawe (Austria, Germany, Somalia - 2022, 28’): A masterclass on how an immaculate formalism can lead quietly to harrowing emotional shores. Restrained yet devastatingly human, a film that pinpoints the absurdity of fate and the limits of justice. The shining proof of Mo Harawe's precious gaze.

‘Urban Solutions’ by Arne Hector, Luciana Mazeto, Vinícius Lopes & Minze Tummescheit (Germany, Brazil - 2022, 30’): Exotic drawings and security cameras, idyllic reports from the colonial past and today’s mirage of security get interconnected in this brilliant critique of Brazil’s urge of paranoid control. Social inequalities and architectural cages: a stimulating and richly cinematic essay film.

Read: ‘Performative Indifference' by Matthew Chan on Mo Harawe's ‘Will My Parents Come To See Me’

Clémence Bragard, programmer Annecy International Animation Film Festival
⟟ France

‘The Flying Sailor’ by Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby (Canada - 2022, 8’): An uplifting film, flying us to the moon!

‘Sierra’ by Sander Joon (Estonia - 2022, 16’): Playful and innovative, wild and colourful, an explosion of creativity.

‘Scale’ by Joseph Pierce (United Kingdom - 2022, 15’): An inner journey into a character's twisted mind and obsessions. The director plays with our perceptions and delivers a mindblowing film.

Read: ‘The Modern Aesthetics of "Cool"' by Matthew Chan on Vytautas Katkus' 'Cherries'

Simone Bardoni, Festival Director Concorto Film Festival
⟟ Italy

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russian Federation - 2022, 25’): Captivating and meditative reflection on climate change, a documentary film that is a unique operation immersed in the inexorably changing arctic world.

‘Will My Parents Come To See Me’ by Mo Harawe (Austria, Germany, Somalia - 2022, 28’): Unforgettable human parable on the indifference of injustices that become a life experience.

‘Cherries’ (‘Uogos’) by Vytautas Katkus (Lithuania - 2022, 15’): The rareness of a summer in deep solitude and marginalisation becomes the beginning of a new personal resistance. Intimate and surreal human portrait by a filmmaker with a very unique style.

Laurence Boyce, Head of Programme (Live Action) PÖFF Shorts (Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival), Board Member Short Film Conference, journalist
⟟ Estonia

‘I Am Good at Karate’ by Jess Dadds (United Kingdom - 2021, 11’): Takes all the clichés of British social realism and reconfigures them into something bold, brave, modern, moving and funny. While it’s an indictment on a society in which mental health problems amongst the poor are often ignored and marginalised, it’s also a paean to how an individual can find own their strength, agency and identity in the modern day.

‘Mother Prays All Day Long’ by Hoda Taheri (Germany – 2022, 24’): A brilliantly provocative piece in which director Taheri – also taking one of the lead roles – follows two women as they discuss and explore their sexuality and other, seemingly more mundane, matters. Taheri tears down the walls between fiction and documentary – as well as naturalism and surrealism – as she investigates the spaces in which humans relate to each other. For its bravura final shot alone, it’s one of the year’s most startling pieces of work.

‘Drylands’ by Urtė Sabutytė (Lithuania – 2022, 14’): This ethereal piece of work – which has not has enough love as it deserves – sees a woman escape to the forest after a difficult event in her life. The trappings of modernity – and the desire to be set free from it – are cleverly explored in a film that is beautifully dreamlike and strikingly human.

John Canciani, Artistic Director Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur
⟟ Switzerland

‘45th Parallel’ by Lawrence Abu Hamdan (United Kingdom - 2022, 15’): Within fifteen minutes we go from micro to macro to see how complex sometimes the world can be. A film that makes the audience reflect about the present time. A simple concept that unfolds slowly but purposefully.

‘Hideous’ by Yann Gonzalez (United Kingdom - 2022, 22’): This film is its own kind of pop musical with many pop references and a great declaration of love to cinema. The audience dives into this magical-romantic-coming-of-age story and becomes part of the universe of Yann Gonzalez.

‘Flores del otro patio’ by Jorge Cadena (Switzerland - 2022, 15’): A queer activist film about the exploitation of coal mines in Colombia. A film with a strong attitude taking up many contemporary issues and which captures the current zeitgeist.

'Hideous' by Yann Gonzalez

Viviana Carlet, Festival Director Lago Film Fest
⟟ Italy

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russia - 2022, 25’): The breath-taking images, powerful visual storytelling and strong sound design transport us to a remote and far away land. This documentary comes close to a horror story with its spectacular reveal of the devastating effects of global warming.

‘So Loud The Sky Can Hear Us’ by Lavinia Xausa (The Netherlands - 2022, 20’): A subtle portrait of human vulnerability representing the need to create community and a sense of belonging, an experimental documentary with the sound and the aim of die-hard Feyenoord fans.

‘Honey’ (‘Madhu’) by Tanmay Chowdhary & Tanvi Chowdhary (India - 2022, 13’): Delicate film from which emotions come out of the picture, a queer romance where we can follow all the feelings of the night: love, hope and dreams.

Gianluca Castellini, Festival Director Sedicicorto International Film Festival
⟟ Italy

‘Warsha’ by Dania Bdeir (Lebanon, France - 2022, 16’): In a world where working conditions are often disastrous and bordering on exploitation, and where the fundamental rights of queer people are denied, the protagonist, a young worker, decides to defy death by climbing onto one of the tallest cranes in Beirut, just to treat themselves to a moment of freedom, to be able to express and dream. Bdeir’s extreme directorial and aesthetic sensitivity tells us how difficult it is to be oneself in the society in which we live. A condition of solitude, in a perfect synthesis of joy and pain.

‘Adjustment’ by Mehrdad Hassani (Iran - 2022, 17’): A poetic look at the affirmation of a child's identity, in contrast to the weight of a country’s traditions anchored to prejudices that deprive the free thought of those who do not find themselves within archaic concepts. Thanks to just one look, the child can intensely convey discomfort without exceeding words or body movements. All supported by excellent photography.

‘Garrano’ by David Doutel & Vasco Sá (Portugal, Lithuania - 2022, 14’): This new collaboration between the two filmmakers, longtime friends and partners has once again resulted in a film with a strong visual and narrative impact. In the film, desperation and irresponsibility that sometimes cause unexplained losses emerges, as happened in Portugal due to the fires of 2018. Fire as an element of attraction and destruction accompanied by a horse that has increasingly lost its interest value due to its scarce use for agricultural work. A film that treats good and evil with cruelty and rebellion and that narrates a survival episode with great emotional involvement and with the use of a very realistic technique.

Rimante Daugelaite, Managing Director Lithuanian Shorts
⟟ Lithuania

‘Nowhere Else’ (‘옥천’) by Lee Kyeongwon (South Korea - 2022, 28’): Film with noir elements brings a sensitive story about trying to find the past. I loved it for its rhythm of the storytelling and great acting.

‘Bestia’ by Hugo Covarrubias (Chile - 2021, 15’): Incredible stop motion portrait of ‘Woman of The Dogs’.

‘Will You Look At Me’ (‘Dang wo wang xiang ni de shi hou’) by Shuli Huang (China - 2022, 20’): Beautiful, touching personal essay. The film that you stay with for a long time after watching it.

‘Will You Look At Me’ by Shuli Huang

Miguel Dias, Programmer Curtas Vila do Conde - International Film Festival
⟟ Portugal

‘Letter to My Mother for My Son’ (‘Carta a mi madre para mi hijo’) by Carla Simón (Spain - 2022, 24’): Once again, Carla Simón swaps between feature and short film, the latter being used by the Catalan filmmaker as a format where she may try new experiments, developing new forms for her cinema, as demonstrated by her previous shorts ‘Llacunes’ or ‘Correspondencias’. Family, memory and autobiography have always been at the centre of her cinema, and ‘Carta a mi madre para mi hijo’ is a poetic essay in that same vein, in which cinema is the connection between the living and the dead: in this case, the film is the result of the filmmaker’s recent motherhood, and the letter to which the title alludes unites her newborn son with the grandmother he’ll never meet.

‘Masks’ (‘Masques’) by Olivier Smolders (Belgium - 2021, 23’): Belgian filmmaker Olivier Smolders is an essential name in the film-essay genre that has been following a personal and intimate path already for almost four decades. ‘Masques’ is an old, unrealized project on masks, which ultimately gained a new angle through the mourning of the death of the filmmaker’s parents. From African masks to the faces mutilated in World War I, the mask that hides the face, but also the mask of death that disfigures the faces we love, as Smolders himself states: “In the end it is no longer really a film about the masks but rather about the loss of the faces of those we love”.

‘The Garbage Man’ (‘O Homem do Lixo’) by Laura Gonçalves (Portugal - 2022, 12’): Laura Gonçalves works in animation, but her films always have a documentary starting point, around her family and her birthplace in the interior of Portugal (Belmonte), as is the case of this beautiful ‘O Homem do Lixo’, perhaps her best work to date. The story of her uncle's emigration to France, captured in sound recordings of family conversations during meals, is the story of thousands of Portuguese during those times that intersected with Salazar's dictatorship and with the war in the former colonies in Africa. The harshness of the times and the sacrifices of so many people who went in search of a better future are clearly present, but the film is happy, surprising and full of life.

Read: ‘How To Hold a Hand' by Savina Petkova on Evi Kalogiropoulou's 'On Xerxes' Throne'

Florian Fernandez, Industry Coordinator Cannes Court Métrage | Rendez-vous Industry and pre-selector Encounters Film Festival, Festival du nouveau cinéma, SXSW Doc Shorts
⟟ France

‘Alegrias Riojanas’ by César Velasco Broca (Spain - 2022, 28’): It's rare to have a love at first sight when it comes to an aesthetical universe. It's even rarer to encounter such bold and strong cinematography. You may feel lost, you may not understand all the references, you may feel dizzy; but you must see there is an outstanding filmmaker here, in the truest sense of the word.

‘Well Wishes My Love, Your Love’ by Gabriel Gabriel Garble (Sweden - 2022, 9’): A film that takes us down the path of the experimental, transports us into a dreamlike universe, invites us into an active meditation and develops a strong cinematographic style, brightly coloured and unique.The senses of the viewer – sight and hearing – are constantly monopolised. This dialogue-free film also questions our sense of touch: the touch that links two beings, the one capable of filling an absence, of giving wings to feelings and flight to the imagination. We go through this journey as in a paradoxical sleep where reality and fiction intertwine before we emerge and return, like the protagonist’s friend, to the world that sharpens our senses in everyday life.

‘On Xerxes' Throne’ (‘Στον Θρονο Του Ξερξη’) by Evi Kalogiropoulou (Greece - 2022, 15’): A visually impressive & ambitious short, which explores – with a lot of poetry – a way of recovering tenderness and reconnecting with sensuality in a space where bodies are a prohibited ground, and flesh is a danger. By intertwining layers of time, by playing with both the mythical and the realness of the world, the film develops a mesmerising universe arousing the senses of the viewer. Touching on social dynamics and behaviours, it stands as a call for revolt in the softest way possible.

Anne Gaschütz, Co-Director FILMFEST DRESDEN International Short Film Festival, Selection Committee Locarno Film Festival
⟟ Germany

‘Asterión’ by Francesco Montagner (Czech Republic, Slovakia - 2022, 15'): A gruesome and yet very tender film questioning masculinity and traditional values. Beautiful cinematography and very skilful editing create a surprisingly tactile and gentle treatise on life and death.

‘In the Big Yard Inside the Teeny-Weeny Pocket’ (Mini-mini-pokke no okina niwa de) by YUKI Yoko (Japan - 2022, 6'): Trapped in in our own sanity, this sensatory overload of colours, morphing figures and a tongue-in-cheek soundtrack sends us on a journey to more clarity – or not. An animation rhyme that breaks with traditions and at the same time can’t deny its influences by artists such as Mirai Mizue or Yoriko Mizushiri. It is so much fun and no matter how often you watch it, there is always something new to discover just as long as you trust your own insanity.

‘It Is Not the Brazilian Homosexuals Who Are Perverse, But the Situation in Which They Live’ (Nicht die brasilianischen Homosexuellen sind pervers, sondern die Situation, in der sie leben) by Eduardo Mamede, Leandro Goddinho & Paulo Menezes (Germany, Brazil - 2021, 12'): I have so much love for this film! Such an uplifting and yet serious piece on body positivity, politics, gender, racism and above all love for oneself. A humorous and accomplished take on Rosa von Praunheim’s ground-breaking original, you can’t help but fall in love with the two protagonists whose conversation on a sunny summer day in Berlin between lockdowns holds so much truth. Probably the only film I can accept with pink subtitles!

‘In the Big Yard Inside the Teeny-Weeny Pocket’ by YUKI Yoko

Oana Ghera, Artistic Director Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival
⟟ Romania

‘Home When You Return’ by Carl Elssaeser (USA - 2021, 30’): A moving homage to the filmmaker’s grandmother, Carl Elssaeser’s film moves hauntingly through the empty space of his now deserted childhood home, conjuring the melodramatic tale of a generation of unrecognised women, whose lives, confined to domesticity, were defined by love and sacrifice.

‘Becoming Male in the Middle Ages’ (‘Tornar-se um homem na idade media’) by Pedro Neves Marques (Portugal - 2022, 22’): A contemporary Rohmerian moral tale with a speculative twist, Pedro Neves Marques explores in a refreshing manner the notions of reproduction, family, gender and normativity, by mixing the politics of the body discussed on screen with the utter sensuality of the surrounding cinematic universe.

‘Neighbour Abdi’ (‘Buurman Abdi’) by Douwe Dijkstra (The Netherlands - 2022, 30’): Douwe Dijkstra’s outstanding hybrid documentary uses playful reconstructions and special effects to recreate the journey that brought Abdi to be the filmmaker’s neighbour. A candid, yet powerful creative investigation that brings to light a painful and complicated history and urges us to look outside of our many walls.

Read: ‘Green Screen Gringo Comes Into His Own' by Vladan Petković on Douwe Dijkstra's 'Neighbour Abdi'

Thomas Grimshaw, programmer
⟟ United Kingdom

‘Polycephaly in D’ by Michael Robinson (USA - 2021, 23’): Film’s pre-eminent pop archivist returns with a lysergic montage of apocalyptic discord. The end of the world (history?) has never felt this kitsch or tender.

‘Maria Schneider, 1983’ by Elisabeth Subrin (France - 2022, 25’): In twenty-five brief minutes, Subrin and her trio of actresses forge an impeccable study in performance, translation and representation. Its contemporaneous cultural relevance only scratches at the surface of its many inexhaustible qualities.

‘Tiger Stabs Tiger’ by Shen Jie (China - 2022, 22’): A film of dark mysteries and inscrutable gestures, where tightly controlled Beckettian rhythms are violently punctured by bursts of Artaudian brutality. A singularly unclassifiable experience.

‘Ice Merchants’ by João Gonzalez

Daniel Hadenius-Ebner, Festival Director Vienna Shorts
⟟ Austria

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russia - 2022, 25’): The clever and compelling way this documentary explores the consequences of climate change through a visually powerful example left a lasting impression.

‘Will My Parents Come To See Me’ by Mo Harawe (Austria, Germany, Somalia - 2022, 28’): Mo Harawe has created nothing less than a masterpiece with this meditative and resilient film about a young man facing execution: haunting, tough, unforgettable.

‘Ice Merchants’ by João Gonzalez (Portugal, United Kingdom, France - 2022, 14’): A great parable about empathy and family in an environment that couldn't be more impassable and unreasonable — and just an exceptionally beautiful animation.

Camille Herbert-Benazet, Head of Cannes Court Métrage | Rendez-vous Industry
⟟ France

‘The Water Murmurs’ (‘Hai bian sheng qi yi zuo xuan ya’) by Story Chen (China - 2022, 15’): A doomsday poem. We are captivated from the very first seconds, drifting like in a dream. Taking an atmospheric dive into the characters' journeys leaves us uncertain where reality starts and fantasy ends. We are haunted by unforgettable scenes.

‘Airhostess-737’ by Thanasis Neofotistos (Greece - 2022, 17’): A guilty pleasure: being stuck to Vanina’s face and getting thrown into her subconscious. Super tightly framed huis-clos pushes both the main character and audience into a corner. Luckily, we will liberate ourselves, and blissfully smile on!

‘Gary Scream For You’ by Nolan Sordyl & Cody McGlashan (USA - 2022, 15’): Completely unique! It’s magnetic and electrifying. You never know what will happen next. We want Gary to scream for us even more. Mad short!

‘Nazarbazi’ (نظربازی) by Maryam Tafakory

Prof. Maike Mia Höhne, Artistic Director Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg, producer curator, mother
⟟ Germany

‘Handbook’ (‘Handbuch’) by Pavel Mozhar (Germany - 2021, 26’): This film makes me feel what no one should ever feel. Still it happens. Anatomy in cruelty.

‘Starfuckers’ by Antonio Marziale (USA - 2022, 15’): Yet another view onto a very vibrant — not only topic, but reality for many. Just love his performance, reenacting and including Marilyn Monroe — cinema en motion

‘Nazarbazi’ (نظربازی) by Maryam Tafakory (Iran - 2022, 19’): …and there is censorship. And because there is censorship there is a way to still do what is unavoidable. Love and devotion is impossible to not live.

Philip Ilson, Artistic Director London Short Film Festival
⟟ United Kingdom

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russia - 2022, 25’): I first saw this as a link with no synopsis, and began watching what I thought was a horror film, and it took around half the film to realise it was a documentary. The 'money shot' is one of the best reveals I've ever seen, and having now seen it in cinemas with audiences, there's always a collective gasp.

‘Jill, Uncredited’ by Anthony Ing (United Kingdom - 2022, 18’): This archive documentary follows the decades-long career of a film extra across TV and cinema in endless, many well known productions. Like a shortening of a lifetime into ten or so minutes. Fascinating to watch.

‘Sierra’ by Sander Joon (Estonia - 2022, 16’): Simply a perfect example of what you can do with animation in terms of creating a completely surreal, weird and unreal story rooted in real life, as a father and son bond over racing driving. You never know where things are going to go on a first watch, and then things get very, very strange, but you're still rooting for the characters on screen throughout.

Read: ‘Racing With Love' by Savina Petkova on Sander Joon's 'Sierra'

Mathieu Janssen, programmer Go Short - International Short Film Festival Nijmegen
⟟ The Netherlands

‘Silence in August’ (‘Stilte in Augustus’) by Paul de Ruijter (The Netherlands - 2022, 18’): The simplicity of rural life depicted in all its abstract complexity. Touching all the undefined feelings of nostalgia — I also grew up in the Dutch countryside — connected to the seasons, the rhythm, the spaces and the life inhabiting them. The empty fields in winter were never so beautiful before.

‘Bachelorette Party’ (‘Enterrement de vie de jeune fille’) by Lola Cambourieu & Yann Berlier (France - 2021, 30’): Just like their previous film, ‘Autumn Ill’, this one lingered in my mind for a long time. From minute one you dive into complex relationships between realistic characters (the acting is amazing!). Showing messy lives, with a shaky camera and sometimes confusing editing, but still summing up to one perfectly balanced masterpiece.

‘The Fruit Tree’ by Isabelle Tollenaere (Belgium - 2022, 14’): The way this film manages to blend and shift between past, present en future through visual poetry in fifteen minutes, is why I love short film.

Nicolas Khabbaz, Artistic Director Beirut Shorts & Batroun Mediterranean Film Festival
⟟ Lebanon

‘Will You Look At Me’ (‘Dang wo wang xiang ni de shi hou’) by Shuli Huang (China - 2022, 20’): A poignant autobiography of a son seeking acceptance and love from his mother.

‘Fairplay’ by Zoel Aeschbacher (Switzerland, France - 2022, 17’): A beautiful and sad film reflecting different human psychological needs through edgy and humiliating competitions.

‘Warsha’ by Dania Bdeir (France, Lebanon - 2022, 16’): A powerful narrative on how far should a person go and put his life at risk in order to live his passion and free himself from the heavy social pressure and barricades.

Read: “Life is so much more liberating if we are able not to have categories of how one should be”, an interview with Dania Bdeir by Niv Fux

Inja Korać, programmer Motovun Film Festival
⟟ Croatia

‘Sierra’ by Sander Joon (Estonia - 2022, 16’): Wonderfully animated black comedy that touches upon very important subjects such as masculinity, identity and family relations but it does it all with a surreal playful sense of humour. Seems like a simple and easy-going story but is in fact a very smart and well crafted film.

‘Granny’s Sexual Life’ (‘Babičino seksualno življenje’) by Urška Djukić & Émilie Pigeard (Slovenia, France - 2021, 14’): This film handles themes of womanhood and memory with bold choices of filmmaking. It’s hard to believe that just two generations ago women’s identities were so ignored. And it still is: that’s why it’s a film that needs to be seen.

‘Balls’ (‘Lopte’) by Gorana Jovanović (Serbia, Slovenia - 2022, 23’): Armies of six former Yugoslav Republics that were in a war are getting together to play. By just observing this tournament that has been held every summer for more than a decade (without media covering it), the filmmaker is saying so much by not underlining anything specific Coming from this territory, this beautiful documentary resonated with me strongly. By using songs and symbols that are helping to grasp at the same time complicated and actually so simple relations and region’s identity.

Read: ‘A Prison of Letters' by Michiel Philippaerts on 'Diana Cam Van Nguyen's 'Love, Dad'

Jukka-Pekka Laakso, Festival Director Tampere Film Festival
⟟ Finland

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russia - 2022, 25’): Shows that old fashioned documentary is still alive and well.

‘Love, Dad’ by Diana Cam Van Nguyen (Czech Republic, Slovakia - 2021, 13’): This film is personal, finding a way to talk about difficult matters in a heartfelt way.

‘Neighbour Abdi’ (‘Buurman Abdi’) by Douwe Dijkstra (The Netherlands - 2022, 30’): Combining a film about serious matter, humour, and revealing the work and skills needed to create the illusions.

Vincent Langouche, Festival Director Leuven International Short Film Festival
⟟ Belgium

‘Nest’ by Hlynur Pálmason (Denmark, Iceland - 2022, 22’): The film excels in its simplicity, yet telling a broad story, encompassing youth, exploration, invention, stubbornness and our relationship with nature. A visual piece of art, but accessible to a broad audience at the same time.

‘Ice Merchants’ by João Gonzalez (Portugal - 2022, 14’): Stylistically beautiful in its colour palette and distinct perspective drawings. But it’s the original story that leaves a lasting impression. A moving — maybe even perfect — story about family bonds, subtly touching upon climate change.

‘backflip’ by Nikita Diakur (Germany - 2022, 13’): Funny and memorable. A playful and interesting exploration of 3D techniques and Machine Learning. Using these half-rendered 3D animations is a clever way to make an appealing and comical documentary on a rather technical subject.

Read: ‘Carved In Time' by Niv Fux on Hlynur Pálmason's 'Nest'

Jaime E. Manrique, Festival Director BOGOSHORTS - Bogotá Short Film Festival
⟟ Colombia

‘All-Inclusive’ (‘Todo includio’) by Duván Duque Vargas (Colombia, France - 2022, 20’): A convincing evidence of the good evolution of short films in Colombia, which thanks to a careful direction, manages to emotionally present us with the deep dysfunctionalities of today's family groups. Through the eyes of an orphaned child we see how the world is becoming diluted.

‘Swallow The Universe’ by NIETO (France - 2021, 12’): From the mind of a creator without limits, who at the same time has fun generating questions in his audience, comes a short film that thanks to its careful technical work and its proposal full of unforgettable images, immerses us in a universe full of intensity, colour and explosions of flesh.

‘Passenger’ (‘Pasajero’) by Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina - 2022, 10’): To belong or not to belong, that is the question. While we live in a world that moves at full speed we do not realise the level of stupidity in which we are all immersed. The consumption of social networks deepens that stupidity, of which only the loneliest human beings are aware. ‘Passenger’ is a delicate animation that reminds us of just that.

Emilia Mazik, International Collaborations Short Waves Festival, Head of Industry Kaboom AnimationFestival, selection committee member Krakow Film Festival & Glasgow Short Film Festival
⟟ The Netherlands

‘Nazarbazi’ (نظربازی) by Maryam Tafakory (Iran - 2022, 19’): An impressive collage of historical images of female characters experiencing life, their sexuality and oppression, combined with poetry and philosophy. The filmmaker plays with camera gaze and censorship in a truly unique way, creating a strong political statement.

‘Persona’ (‘각질’) by Sujin MOON (South Korea - 2022, 7’): A very disturbing and original take on daily struggles of every social media user. Perfectly styled, weird and full of unexpected turns. As amusing and terrifying as animation can be!

‘Becoming Male in the Middle Ages’ (‘Tornar-se um homem na idade media’) by Pedro Neves Marques (Portugal - 2022, 22’): Perfectly executed and thought provoking — intelligently touching the subjects of bio-politics, intersectionality and body autonomy. I really appreciate the consequence of the director’s visual and socio-political investigations.

Read: ‘Breaking The Norm, A Conversation with Pedro Neves Marques' by Līga Požarska

Kyrylo Marikutsa, Festival Director Kyiv International Short Film Festival
⟟ Ukraine

‘Gods of the Supermarket’ (‘Les Dieux du Supermarché’) by Alberto Gonzalez Morales (Switzerland - 2022, 8’): For the tremendous visual language of the film and the anti-masculinity topic.

‘You Can’t Show My Face’ by Knutte Wester (Sweden - 2021, 24’): An excellent documentary that confronts us with the un-normality of our world. In one part of the world, hip-hop music about drugs, sex, and money is included in everyday life; in another part of the world — prohibited and dangerous for your freedom.

‘Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles’ (‘Літургія протитанкових перешкод’) by Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk (Ukraine - 2022, 12’): The film shows that there is no sector of everyday life in Ukraine left out of the war.

Iokaim Mylonas, Festival Director International Short Film Festival of Cyprus
⟟ Cyprus

‘Daphne’ by Tonia Mishiali (Cyprus - 2022, 18’): A rare and bold directorial female view that comments on isolation, and with a strong female lead.

‘Le Saboteur’ by Anssi Kasitonni & Sami Sanpakkila (Finland - 2022, 12’): A breath of fresh air in the huge cloud of short films. A unique look at the making of low budget shorts by means of a playful and creative way of storytelling.

‘The Human Torch’ by Risto-Pekka Blom (Finland - 2022, 5’): A well shot and beautifully staged film on the loss of the sense of security in the modern world.

Read: ‘Cracks In The Pavement' by Jason Todd on Risto-Pekka Blom's 'The Human Torch'

Christoffer Ode, Programme Director Uppsala Short Film Festival
⟟ Sweden

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russia - 2022, 25’): Now more than ever, my favourite short film moments seem to come in the cinema, with films that a jaded short film professional such as myself might not have appreciated as much in another screening situation. But in the glory of the cinema space, you open yourself up to them and they seep into you. For its first few minutes, this film is almost too meticulously beautiful to be believed. Then comes that moment: a door opens, a full cinema crowd gasps in unison, the surrealism of reality comes crashing down and disbelief is turned on its head. You still hardly believe what you're seeing, but for completely other reasons.

‘ECHODROME (Nighttime at the Well)’ (‘ECHODROM (Nachts im Bach)’) by Gudrun Krebitz (Austria, Germany - 2022, 17’): Another magic cinema moment: getting off the train at Altona and heading straight into the warm embrace of Zeise cinemas, immersing into the delirious wonders of the dark and dreamy world of Gudrun Krebitz and letting it enter me. There's nothing quite like it.

‘Weathering Heights’ by Hannah Wiker Wikström (Sweden - 2022, 30’): While we're on the subject of ‘talking shorts’, there's nothing quite like stepping out of the cinema either, say for instance Lichtburg Filmpalast, seeing on the exasperated faces of your colleagues that the deliciously disgusting experience you thought you'd just shared was completely different for them — and then getting into a heated discussion about it all.

Read: ‘Toothache, Heartache' by Jason Todd on Mohammadreza Mayghani's 'Orthodontics'

Lisa Ogdie, programmer Sundance Film Festival

‘Orthodontics’ by Mohammadreza Mayghani (Iran - 2021, 14’): Beautiful composition and strong sense of tone. I can’t wait to see what Mohammadreza Mayghani does next.

‘Bestia’ by Hugo Covarrubias (Chile - 2021, 15’): Wonderfully constructed and nuanced animated short that conveys so much with completely no dialogue.

‘Training Wheels’ by Alison Rich (USA - 2022, 15’): Human connection and intimacy can be difficult and Alison Rich does a wonderful job of capturing those awkward but sweet moments that can occur between two people just trying to find love.

Aneta Ozorek, Artistic Director Kaboom Animation Festival
⟟ The Netherlands

‘Impossible Figures and Other Stories I’ by Marta Pajek (Poland, Canada - 2021, 16’): The film starts with a big bang and tells a story of humankind, with its fascination in “having”, “buying”, “owning” more. No matter the costs, no matter the amount of freedom they must sacrifice. It’s a story of earth exploitation but also of totalitarianism: the urge to follow strong leaders, building new better people in the new better world for any cost. Told by an old witch, going under water of a sinking city, desperately holding onto her luxury fur. Marta’s visual imagination, mesmerising scenes, ability to condense powerful messages by using minimalistic drawing makes the screenings of her films an exceptional experience.

‘Scum Mutation’ by Ov. (France - 2020, 10’): Experimental short and documentary using the recordings from the violent protests in Hong-Kong, creating the visual monsters, fed with anger, fear, sadness, and rage. Visual, typographical puke, with dark, deep evil we watch and experience every day.

‘Seen It!’ (Kandittund!) by Adithi Krishanadas (India - 2021, 10’): Adithi Krishnadas completely ignores the Platonian duality of looking at the world: her mockumentary ‘Seen It!’ freely navigates between a universe of myths and everyday life — showing that reality is just the concept, where magical thinking and logical facts can be equally respected.

Read: “I wanted the film to be a kind of lament, a way of grieving something that is yet to come”, an interview with Marta Pajek by Līga Požarska

Igor Passel, Film Curator Slovenian Cinematheque, Programme Director Animateka International Animated Film Festival
⟟ Slovenia

‘Steakhouse’ by Špela Čadež (Slovenia, Germany, France - 2021, 10’): Delicate take on psychological family violence, made in amazing cut out on multiplane camera technique.

‘Granny’s Sexual Life’ (‘Babičino seksualno življenje’) by Urška Djukić & Émilie Pigeard (Slovenia, France - 2021, 14’): Animated documentary on elderly women reflecting about their memories of past times, when the relationships between men and women were very different.

‘Sierra’ by Sander Joon (Estonia - 2022, 16’): Burlesque, pure pleasure. Presenting family dynamics with unexpected tenderness. A perfectly timed, joyful and colourful game with audience expectations, impeccably supported by the soundscape and its mise en scene.

Read: ‘Words and Meat' by Chris Childs on Špela Čadež's 'Steakhouse'

Émilie Poirier, Head of Short Film and Feature Film Programmer Festival du nouveau cinéma
⟟ Canada

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russia - 2022, 25’): For the astonishing work on the imagery while sharing a strong point of view on climate change, animal migration and vulnerable species.

‘Will My Parents Come To See Me’ by Mo Harawe (Austria, Germany, Somalia - 2022, 28’): For the attention to detail of the mundane in a serious situation and for staying in a stripped down approach to focus directly and deeply on those important considerations.

‘backflip’ by Nikita Diakur (Germany - 2022, 13’): For the hilarious approach on the d​​eep reinforcement learning process in the virtual world and for the philosophical and important questions that this film raises while using slapstick humour mechanisms to get through to literally everyone.

Fransiska Prihadi, programmer Minikino
⟟ Indonesia

‘Le Saboteur’ by Anssi Kasitonni (Finland - 2022, 12’): Such a fun short film to watch, and it surely inspires people to make films. As for me, I would love to watch more entertaining inspiring films like this one!

‘Adjusting’ (‘Prilagođeni’) by Dejan Petrović (Serbia - 2021, 19’): I'm a dog person. This film tells the story of a rarely seen dog and human relationship, how they learn from each other, in prison.

‘Makassar is a City for Football Fans’ (‘Lika Liku Laki’) by Khozy Rizal (Indonesia - 2021, 20’): I'm just glad that an Indonesian filmmaker made this film. Important topic, questioning masculinity, coming from a new fresh generation of young filmmaker from the country.

Laura Quarto, Festival Director Leiden Shorts
⟟ The Netherlands

‘Eyes and Horns’ by Chaerin Im (South Korea, Germany, USA - 2021, 6’): Simple white lines on an indigo background offer a unique journey on perception, sexuality and masculinity.

‘The Sower of Stars’ (‘El sembrador de estrellas’) by Lois Patiño (Spain - 2022, 25’): A unique play with light and darkness that creates soothing oneiric landscapes.

‘Techno, Mama’ by Saulius Baradinskas (Lithuania - 2021, 18’): For its use of framing, sound design and image composition as a means of storytelling.

Read: ‘Love Is A Tough Game' by Jason Todd on Saulius Baradinskas' 'Techno, Mama'

Carlos Ramos, Festival Director & Programmer IndieLisboa
⟟ Portugal

‘Repetitions’ by Morgan Quaintance (United Kingdom - 2022, 21’): Morgan Quaintance is one of the artists who resonates most with me today. He is an alchemist. The way he thinks and structures the narrative, often with several things overlapping and colliding, is fantastic. His films have an enormous aesthetic and musical sensibility.

‘Scarce’ (‘Escasso’) by Gabriela Meirelles, Clara Anastácia (Brazil - 2022, 16’): A decolonial melodrama which is a breath of fresh air. There is nothing new here. And yet everything is new.

‘An Ambush in Suspense’ (‘Une embuscade en suspens’) by Simon Quéheillard (France - 2021, 17’): Performative. Funny. Provocative. Intriguing. Destructive.

Read: ‘8.640 Jumps A Day' by Jason Todd on Nikita Diakur's 'backflip'

Nina Rodriguez, Head of Programming Guanajuato International Film Festival
⟟ Mexico

‘Staging Death’ by Jan Soldat (Germany - 2022, 8’): An eight minute masterclass in film history, editing, and dying on screen.

‘Stranger than Rotterdam with Sara Driver’ by Noah Kloster & Lewie Kloster (USA - 2021, 9’): A gorgeously handcrafted slice of film history, stranger than fiction, paying tribute to the illicit brilliance of women producers behind that legacy.

‘backflip’ by Nikita Diakur (Germany - 2022, 13’): Who knew the most instructive and enlightening film I've seen in 2022 started in Guanajuato?

Julie Rousson, Programmer & Industry Coordinator Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival
⟟ France

‘Sierra’ by Sander Joon (Estonia - 2022, 16’): I was lucky enough to discover the film during a pitching forum, and I immediately fell in love with it. The kind of love at first watch that you want to share with everybody. I can not be more happy for the film and the team behind it with the amazing festival run they have had.

‘Bear’ (‘Ours’) by Morgane Fund (Switzerland - 2022, 19’): Documentaries can have the power to open debates on subjects that we sometimes don't know how to discuss. ‘Bear’ is one of those. How to talk about male gaze with someone who never considered it a thing? How to confront problematic behaviours to try to change them? The film doesn't answer the question, but is a way to start a very requisite debate.

‘Invincible’ by Vincent René-Lortie (Canada - 2022, 30’): As short film programmers, we see a lot of coming of age films, but few really grab our attention. This one stands out by a powerful cinematography and an amazing main actor who succeeds in showing us the complexity of longing for freedom and the profound despair of teenage years.

‘Oh, Butterfly!’ by Sylvia Schedelbauer

Ren Scateni, Head of Programme Encounters Film Festival
⟟ United Kingdom

‘Oh, Butterfly!’ by Sylvia Schedelbauer (Germany, Japan - 2022, 19’): A polyphonic and multi-layered work about memory, family, and trans-national identity in which a personal archive, found footage materials and audiovisual recordings of Puccini's opera are orchestrated to maximum precision.

‘Nazarbazi’ (‘نظربازی’) by Maryam Tafakory (Iran, United Kingdom - 2022, 19’): A video essay on body language and repressed desires doubling up as an articulated archival exercise. There is so much urgency, beauty, and poetry in Tafakory's words.

‘Under the Lake’ by Thanasis Trouboukis (Greece - 2022, 16’): A reflection on time and impermanence. On lost and fragmented memories in a melancholic village nestled in a mountainous region of Greece.

Sven Schwarz, Managing Director Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg
⟟ Germany

‘Haulout’ by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (United Kingdom, Russia - 2022, 25’): The film that has been everywhere but which so very much shows us how short films need the big screen. Jaw-dropping images and the sound just encapsulates us as the viewers of this spectacle. And that moment the door opens!

‘Tank Fairy’ (‘桶妝仙女’) by Erich Rettstradt (Taiwan - 2021, 10’): My favourite Open Air screening moment of the last year, if you are looking for a film to make a transition to your Saturday night festival party: this here is the one. Fantastically flamboyant and it leaves you with ‘Holding Out for A Hero’ stuck in your head for the rest of the week.

‘Pink Rider’ by Daniel Aguirre (Sweden - 2021, 12’): Matching criticism of today's gig economy with punk music in a very no budget style. Sounds good? It certainly does! You can screen it for young audiences while at the same time having it receive the audience award from the grown-ups. And when was the last time you heard someone apologise for the monologue?

‘Tank Fairy’ (桶妝仙女) by Erich Rettstradt

Anita Svingen, Festival Manager & Programmer Norwegian Short Film Festival
⟟ Norway

‘Warsha’ by Dania Bdeir (France, Lebanon - 2021, 16’): The tension stays throughout this visually stunning film, from the cramped, dark conditions of the working men, to the breathtaking views from the crane.

‘beautiful house’ (‘casa bonita’) by Paula Amor (Spain - 2021, 12’): Patient and almost meditative-paced, it holds my attention thanks to its warm sense of humour. At the same time, it portrays the estrangement of a whole generation.

‘Sideral’ by Carlos Segundo (Brazil, France - 2021, 15’): A sinister portrayal, shot in beautiful black and white, surprisingly flips over to an absurd, comedic escape in a spaceship.

‘Curupira and the machine of destiny’ by Janaina Wagner

Alberto Valverde, Programmer CinemaAttic & D’A Film Festival
⟟ Spain

‘Curupira and the machine of destiny’ by Janaina Wagner (France, Brazil - 2021, 25’): Here's the film with the most harrowing images of the year. Sometimes the most faithful path to documenting reality is to use all the magic potential of local myths, rites, traditions and dreams. The plastic quality of some images got stuck in my head to the point of returning to watch it several times along the year. Janaina Wagner, what a discovery!

‘On the Empty Dance Floor’ (‘Por la pista vacía’) by Pablo Garcia Canga (Spain - 2022, 27’): The choice of my heart. The film that made me cry every time I had the chance to share it with people. To keep a twenty-seven minute film so dramatic with so little, with such minimalist proposal, is pretty remarkable. We tend to forget there's nothing more dramatic, no formal trick, no cinematic pirouette equals the art of knowing how to film a human face and human expression. Garcia Canga is an incredible writer, but what he gets here with the acting of Bruna Cusi is one of those films that expands and flies to some emotional heights we barely see these days in cinema.

‘Cherries’ (‘Uogos’) by Vytautas Katkus (Lithuania - 2022, 15’): Long live to those directors who break and challenge logic structures in a film, and even more so for those who create such powerful images. What a parade of colours, heat, originality.

Carla Vulpiani, Short Film Advisor Venice Film Festival
⟟ Italy

‘Christopher at Sea’ by Tom CJ Brown (United Kingdom, France - 2022, 20’): Tom CJ Brown masters the codes of operatic melodrama in a beautifully crafted mix of hand-drawn and CGI animation. The realism of the setting plays with contrasts between the cold machinery of a cargo ship and the absolute and frightening beauty of the sea, which fills and fulfils eyes and emotions. The descent into the inner psyche of the protagonist achieves — in a blend of variations of style — to show the cinematic capacity of animation at its finest. An eccentric and wonderful voyage.

‘The Fruit Tree’ by Isabelle Tollenaere (Belgium - 2022, 14’): With a very minimalistic yet very powerful visual set, Isabelle Tollenaere dives deep into a number of topics: the unique feeling of being at home; the childhood memories of distant homes; the housing emergency and the housing developments in marginal urban conglomerates. The conversation between the two main characters spaces while their imagination furnishes a new and empty apartment; the camera spaces too, then — following the voices — frames a window and the neighbouring life outside it, before unfolding a spectacularly profound and unexpected ending.

‘Everything At Once’ (‘Alt på en gang’) by Henrik Dyb Zwart (Norway - 2022, 8’): Can a memory be accurately told as fragmented as it is in our brain? With this question in mind, Henrik Dyb Zwart drags us along into his creative process of storytelling through a multi-framing on screen harmonised by a great deal of work on the editing. Jacob, the protagonist, is trying to put together the pieces of the story that changed his life forever, but they are all scattered and the audience has to jump with him on the roller coaster of his visual memories in eight minutes of pure entertainment and the highest technical expression of the cinematic medium.

Read: ‘Staging Tulips' by Līga Požarska on Gerard Ortín Castellví's 'Agrilogistics'

Claudio Zilleruelo Acra, Festival Director Black Canvas FCC
⟟ Mexico

‘Eventide’ by Sharon Lockhart (USA - 2022, 35’): Abstractions of impermanence, of the fugues that come and go. A curious and incandescent intimate choreography of the ephemeral. A masterful piece that embraces space and time within the cinematographic, a sonorous and visual meditation. Intermittent bodies immersed in observational solitude, the environment, the earthly elements that are transformed all the time between cycles.

‘Agrilogistics’ by Gerard Ortín Castellvi (Spain - 2022, 21’): Creation and life. Processing and algorithms, an industrial landscape of symmetrical shapes, abstract and geometric figures, greenhouses that trigger the imagination towards a science fiction world managed by technocracy. Indoor and outdoor spaces integrated in a synchronisation of dreams and atmospheres where plant life, animal life and machines converge, proposing the integration and gear of a sustainable technology in balance with the ecosystem and societies.

‘The Demands of Ordinary Devotion’ by Eva Giolo (Italy, Belgium - 2022, 12’): It is a reflection of love and essence that celebrates life, which nourishes reciprocity when it is given without expecting anything in return. The present in relation to the movement of the hands that allow us perspective in the dimension of physicality, to the circles that permeate and also to the touch awaken the intuition of creation and motherhood. In the craft when everyday life becomes an active meditation connected to what we love and care about in an essential way.

READ MORE: Top 3 Of 2022 by Critics & Journalists
READ MORE: Top 3 Of 2022 by Filmmakers

Cover Picture © 'Haulout' by Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev