HollyShorts Pt. 3 Final Films and the Oscar-Qualifying Winners

This article originally appeared on The Film Experience

The virtual HollyShorts Film Festival is at an end.  Showcasing the newest and best films under 40 minutes, I was able to watch dozens of great short films across a myriad of categories.  Here are my thoughs on ten more films as well the festival winners…


Little Sky (d. Jess X. Snow)
Chinese American drag sensation Sky returns to their hometown to confront their estranged father.  Wo Chan is a showstopper as the titular Sky, whose palpable pain resonates through their performance.  Raises interesting questions about why we love the people who don’t love us back and the family we make for ourselves.  Powerfully performed and memorable.

Beautiful They (d. Cloudy Rhodes)
A pair of youths meet after sharing weed and head to the solace of the beach.  Touching, gentle exploration on the nuance of gender and attraction.  Lovely, sweet and sexy without the lingering darkness you keep waiting for.  Boldly performed by Morgan Davies and Sariah Saibu, shows the importance of finding someone who loves you for you.


Kick! (d. Alex Backes, Tanner Boyajian)
Things go extremely awry when an expectant single-mother asks her neighbors to keep their music down.  Essentially Game Night if Rachel McAdams’ character was terrified at everything that was happening.  Oddly clashing tones, with an expectation of humor but the reality being much more sinister.  It does finish with a nice comment on what people expect out of expectant mothers.

Follow Me Please (d. Ian Matthews)
A young man desperate for internet stardom gets more than he bargained for when he follows a mysterious figure on Instagram.  Heavy-handed message about the reception of content rather than the content itself.  Eschews internet celebrities, but does it in too obvious ways.  The suspense elements do hold up, though.


Clara With a Mustache (d. Ilir Blaḉori)
A banknote travels the world an reveals terrible stories with an undercurrent of hope.  Fascinatingly innovative animation, with a memorable message about the horrors of the Kosovo War.  The animation style almost forces you to not take the terrible goings on too seriously.  Despite the banknote being the narrative device, the people and personalities are at the forefront without a distinguishing visual difference between the characters.  Innovative storytelling without the crutch of exposition.

Ruwatan (d. Ernest Lesmasa)
A woman accompanies her mother as she undergoes alternative therapy.  Shows the lengths people will go to in order to be healed without the benefit of expensive therapy and how people will manipulate the needy for their own creepy needs.  Powerful message that you never know what the people closest to you are actually going through.

Kid’s Animation

A Tiny Tale (d. Sylvain Cuvillier, Chloé Bourdic, Théophile Coursimault, Noémie Halberstam, Maÿlis Mosny, Zijing Ye)
An abandoned dog, a wannabe astronaut and a professional cyclist connect through circumstance.  Fun, clean animation with a distinct visual storytelling structure.  Though obviously not made with the highest budget, it never feels cheaply made.

Beyond the Line (d. Jinuk Choi)
A group of disability assistants dream of race track stardom.  Cute premise with a simple execution that effectively sells the story.  It’s a welcome sight to have wheelchairs and crutches be at the forefront of the action.  It probably would have been a bit better if the vehicles had any personality outside of their functions.


Maximus (d. Richard Predergast)
A young warrior fights for his life, as told through the his little sister.  What starts as a brooding epic of action and war turns into a lovely tale of actual heroism and bravery.  The action scenes are superfluous as the real-life tale supersedes any care about the war-based story.  A touching ending with a sweet message.

Hard Out (d. Ben Leiataua, Brett Benson)
When drunk patrons interrupt filming, a production crew shooting a commercial in a bar decide to settle their difference with a fight.  Enjoyable simple action is sometimes the best action, but there should be some type of innovation, of which there is very little.  More of a good idea with poor execution

17th Annual HollyShorts Award Winners
These three films are now Oscar qualified given their wins:

Grand Prix Best Short: The Long Goodbye

Best Animation: I Am A Pebble

Best Live Action: Little Bear

Other winners:
Best Action: Maximus
Best Cinematography: Under the Heavens
Best Comedy: The Deep End
Best Commercial: Widen The Screen
Best Composer: The Night I Left America
Best Director: Georgia
Best Documentary: Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma
Best Drama: I Would Never
Best Editing:  Electromagnetic
Best Horror: Lilias Adie
Best International: Fabiu
Best LGBTQIA+: Bracha
Best Midnight Madness: M*therfucker
Best Music Video: Tell Me A Story
Best Podcast: Carcerem
Best Producer: The Night I Left America
Best SciFi: Jack and Jo Don’t Want To Die
Best Screenplay: Dummy
Best Student Film: Team Meryland
Best Thriller: Reklaw
Best TV Series: Cronos
Best TV Screenplay: Half-Assed
Best VFX: Untitled Earth Sim 64
Best Web Series: Best Before
Hawk Films Screenplay Award: Glaciers
HollyShorts Honorable Mention: Koreatown Ghost Story
HollyShorts 3rd Place Screenplay: David
Latinx Award:  Nuevo Rico
SAG Indie Award: Some Still Search
Shot on Film Award: The Archivists
Shot on Film Honorable Mention: Beity
Shot on Film Award – Super 8MM: Strong Son
Social Impact Award: Under The Heavens
Special Jury Mention: Staff Pick
Women in Film Award: Dọlápọ̀ Is Fine
Women in Film Screenplay Award: Sara

1. Gabriella
2. Beautiful They
3. Inferno
4. This Will Be My Last Cigarette
5. The Long Goodbye

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