With decent special effects becoming easier and cheaper all the time, sci-fi short films appear to be booming. Although a fair number of them come across more as teasers and the bare beginnings of a story to entice studios to hire the filmmaker to make a feature, some do tell cohesive stories. Although they face stiff competition from TV episodes for the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) Hugo award, I think some short films are as deserving of consideration as well. Unfortunately, their audiences tend to be massively smaller than, say, I don’t know – perennial nominees Game of Thrones and Doctor Who.
One short film that really struck me this year was The Shaman. It manages to strike a balance of hinting at a larger world and story but still being a complete tale itself. The summary from IMDB is:
The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war. A Shaman is sent on a mission to convert the soul of a giant battle colossus.
The story is an amazing and seamless blend of ancient and futuristic with a shaman entering a netherworld to try and convert the soul of massive robotic engine of destruction. The worldbuilding really worked for me, and it definitely got me wanting to see more of this world, or even better yet, reading stories based in this setting. The film didn’t just rely on showing off their special effects chops, but instead went deliberately low key and psychological.
On a side note, One-Minute Time Machine is one that I wanted to recommend but unfortunately first came out in 2014. It’s not necessarily NSFW but has some innuendo and language. It does a great job of telling an amusing little story very simply.