• Dolly Darbar

5 Thought-Provoking Short Films That You Might Have Missed

Cinema is an integral part of our society where usually the audience is captivated with the massy commercial movies which are usually 3 hours long and have a star studded cast. Amidst this the good short movies usually don’t get the attention they deserve. Short movies are usually motion pictures up to 50mins long. A short movie can be a live-action, documentary, animation or computer-generated. For an aspiring filmmaker, working on short movies before launching a big-screen career is like a stepping stone which gives them the opportunity to explore the topics that are left untouched by commercial cinema. However, due to the growing influence of the Internet and social-media and the growth in OTT platforms, short movies are getting the much-deserved recognition. Today as short films are becoming a growing medium for story-tellers, many acclaimed filmmakers are venturing into creating short length films.


But what makes the short films any different from the commercial films? Short films are one of the best mediums for budding filmmakers and actors to showcase their raw talents before they enter the big league. This also gives an early in-sight into their storytelling process. Short films have engaging bit-sized stories with greater impact and lesser budget and are of less than half the time of a commercial film. A short film will always have an engaging narrative, great visuals, compelling storytelling and original concepts. They are much more intimate and give freedom to the filmmakers.


Every short film story is a golden opportunity to showcase your creativity.

But sometimes, at the end of the day you just want a compelling short story to watch rather than immersing yourself in a 3-hour long cinematic experience. So here are some thought-provoking and heart-warming short stories based around female characters that you might have missed and most of them have won or have been nominated for a number of awards.


1. Bittu


Rani Kumari & Renu Kumari with Director (Source- Bittufilm.com)


To be honest, I cried my heart out while watching this 17-minutes long film! The film revolves around a close friendship between two girls and how an accidental incident brings them to an end they never imagined. This film explores the experience of a child that is faced with such sudden uncertainty.

The film is set in a hilly village in the Himalayas. The protagonists of the film- Bittu and Chand, are poor and study in a boarding school that has the bare minimum of the facilities- damaged rooms, a water-tap outside, a teacher, a cook and a principal and the students are served with a soggy mix of dal and rice for their lunch. But don't take them as villains, in fact these characters are very caring. Bittu’s & Chand’s personalities are poles apart- unlike many village girls, Bittu is fierce, a charming performer and yet stubborn and ready to fight anyone, whereas Chand is sweet and fragile. They fight, steal, hustle, play together but this is not the same in the school. Chand is a sharp student who outperforms Bittu in every way. One day, with the happening of an unfortunate event, things change between them. It's Bittu's individuality and defiance that saves her. The film ends with an appalling climax that leaves Bittu crushed with many unanswered questions and is more heartbreaking as it's based on a true story. Filled with pure friendship and a sense of loyalty, Karishma Dube’s ‘Bittu’ was the official Indian entry in the Best Live Action Short category at the 93rd Academy Awards.

Trailer for Bittu


2. The Booth


Source- MUBI


This 15-minutes long screenplay with minimal dialogues explores the idea of same-sex romance between two women, Rekha and Sargam. Rekha is a married frisking officer at a mall and Sargam is a young college-going girl who is ready to embark on her banking career. The title of the film “The Booth” is a perfect metaphor for the space in which Rekha and Sargam get the freedom to exhibit their desires and liberate their sexuality- a closed, confined space which sets them free, even if it's for a few minutes. Even with few dialogues, this short film has elements which subtly add to the depth of the narrative and visuals.

The film touches into the audience's imaginations that leaves them with questions like will they get caught? What will happen if they get caught? Will they be punished or shamed by the people? How did they meet? Do they even meet outside the mall? What about their families? And then there are visuals that elevate our paranoia like the CCTV scene in the climax, the pervert recording Sargam and more. The film explores the idea of what one desires and what one is expected to do because of societal pressure and judgmental attitude. Watch this well-written screenplay about a forbidden love story and look at sexuality from a deeper perspective.


Available on: MUBI https://mubi.com/films/the-booth-2018/player


3. Counterfeit Kunkoo


Source- Vogue


“They would then ask: “Where’s your husband?” That was the only question anybody was interested in.” said Reema Sengupta in an interview who is the writer, director, editor and producer of this short film.

Counterfeit Kunkoo is a 15-minutes long film that highlights important issues like marital rapes to housing discrimination a single woman still has to face. This thought-provoking short film is about a separated single woman (Smita) and her search for a flat in Middle-Class Mumbai, but this doesn’t get any easier for her. Smita sees herself fighting different social stigmas to become an independent woman. From having to escape her abusive marriage to defending her marital status to the landlords and breaking the patriarchy; deeply rooted in the Indian culture, she battles it all. The film unapologetically displays the reality that even today, women in India are expected to be accompanied by a man for finding a roof over their head. The film has a universal message that women from any part of the world would resonate to. What makes the counterfeit different is its storytelling and the concept. Counterfeit Kunkoo was nominated for awards at several international film festivals and won many international film awards. In interviews the filmmaker confessed “ since at the heart of the project was a woman telling stories about women, through inspiration from her own mother, the journey had to end in triumph."


Available on - NOWNESS Asia

https://www.nowness.com/series/nowness-asia/counterfeit-kunkoo-unmarried-women-india


4. PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE.


Source- BBC news


Now this feel-good documentary style short film is an Oscar winner in the Documentary Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Award, produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga's Sikhya entertainment and directed by filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi. Menstruation is still a major taboo in India, especially in the rural areas


Everybody knows about ‘Periods' but no one wants to talk about ‘Periods’ ,such is the stigma around it. There is a lack of awareness, access to pads which eventually leads to health issues and young girls dropping out of schools and at times using rags and leaves to deal with their periods. This film is set around rural India- Hapur village outside Delhi, where the protagonists Sneh and other unnamed women have installed a sanitary pad vending-machine which produces low-cost biodegradable sanitary pads and sells the product throughout the district. The film shows how the women of Hapur village are fighting against the deep rooted stigma of menstruation. There are many scenes in the film that show how the rural men are not familiar with the term ‘Periods’ or they take it as some sort of illness that women suffer from. The women of this village have taken a great initiative to empower the women of their community. This short film was made with a collaboration with a few organizations working towards women empowerment. When asked why they decided to name their brand FLY, the protagonist replied by saying ‘because now our girls have learnt how to fly’.


Available on: Netflix & Youtube https://youtu.be/Lrm2pD0qofM


5. Juice


Source- YouTube


When was the last time you had a conversation with your family about the deeply ingrained patriarchy in our culture? This short film directed by Neeraj Ghaywan starring Shefali Shah, will make you question the same. The 14-minutes long film is set around the premise of gender politics in Indian households. The film communicates the universal theme of everyday sexism prevailing in the society as a result of years of patriarchy. With this compelling narrative, the director addresses the gender dynamics between spouses by showing a set-up about a family get-together. The film portrays the situations of how a Middle class Indian household looks like. Besides the patriarchy and misogyny, the film also subtly talks about caste through visuals and narrative. There are visuals that vividly show the inequality and sexism like the men disapproving of their female colleague, the women cooking in the kitchen and while discussing the pros and cons of marriages, while the men outside are having a party of their own and more. As the story progresses, in the climax scene, it’s the background score and the Shefali’s eyes that do the talking.


Available on: Youtube - https://youtu.be/R-Sk7fQGIjE


These were some of the short stories with thought-provoking storytelling and narratives. Share with us your recommendations in the comment section below!