Last week, I attended the Women in Film Festival. WIF is a group that “advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries”, and last week they put on a virtual Shorts festival. Because of the pandemic, most festivals have been online lately, and this was no different. That was great for me, because as a Boston-based person, there’s never any film festivals within and hour of me, and so I decided to take full advantage of whatever the pandemic could offer me. The WIF Festival featured 8 short films written and directed by women or nonbinary people, as well as a panel after the screening where the audience could ask the writers questions about their work and career. If you’ve never been to a screening like this, I would highly recommend because it was such a fun way to see all sorts of genres and types of cinematography that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and getting to meet the writers was such a cool experience! There’s only one other time where I’ve gotten to meet writers, and that was for books, and it completely changed the way I viewed their writing, and this was no different. I wanted to take the time to talk about the 8 Shorts that I saw and give them a little review so that you guys know what you should watch next!

First Date

cover of Paper Geese directed by Carl Usdin

My Rating: 4 Stars

Writer / Director: Carly Usdin

First Date is actually a film I’d seen when it initially premiered on Youtube, but I was super excited to get to watch it again! It was a story of two girls who meet on a dating app and then end up having the exciting/scary/thrilling/nerve-wracking opportunity to meet up in real life. Usdin said that this film was actually the result of a sponsorship between Baileys, Bumble, and Hello Sunshine, and although you could definitely tell, I don’t think that took away from the story itself. This was the only branded content in the festival, and it was unique in both its lightheartedness and the way characters would often turn and talk to the camera to explain their emotions throughout the film.

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Paper Geese

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Writer / Director: Elizabeth Chatelain

cover of Paper Geese directed by Elizabeth Chatelain

This is not the type of film that I’d normally watch, and that probably comes through in my rating. If you’re a different type of person, you may love this film! Paper Geese is about a family relationship between a daughter and her father. The father is clearly suffering in some way and is somewhat distant from his family, but his daughter realizes this for the first time when they go on a goose hunt together and they miss, only maiming the goose. What follows is a dramatically shot piece that shows the emotions of the little girl as she tries to handle what this injured goose says about her father and her relationship to him. It was a little too silent and haunting for me, but it was really well done if that’s what you’re into.

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Seasick

cover of Seasick by Lindsey Ryan

My Rating: 4 Stars

Writer / Director: Lindsey Ryan

Seasick was the perfect mix of teenage angst and relatable emotions. If you’ve ever sent a text to the wrong person, then you know exactly what our main character in Seasick felt like. They meant to tell their friend about their crush, but alas mis-texted. She spends the rest of her day at work plotting for ways to get the phone and delete the message before she gets caught. There’s a hilarious ending that made it clear Ryan was in on the joke of just how dramatic and teenage-esque this plot line was. The story was incredibly well told, the cinematography was beautiful, and Ryan shared that she hopes for it to become a series in the future!

Add on Letterboxd | View on Film Independent

Hangry

My Rating: 5 Stars

Writer: Tennessee Martin

Director: Bola Ogun

cover of Hangry directed by Bola Ogun

As a girl who gets Hangry literally every single day, it’s no surprise that this was one of my favorites from the festival (although I should note that I do not relate to the main character). I absolutely loved this short and thought both Martin and Ogun did an incredible job putting this together. Hangy centers on a girl with an abusive step-dad who finally makes him pay for the way he treated her and her mother. It’s so well done, I can viscerally feel the emotions that lead the girl to doing what she did, and still the ending was shocking. There’s quite a few twists, and it’s hard to execute that so well inside of such a short time span. I love a good fucked up protagonist, and that’s exactly what we got in this piece. If I were to watch a full length film of any of these shorts, it would most definitely be Hangry.

Add on Letterboxd | Watch the Teaser on Vimeo

At Last

cover of At Last directed by Gia-Rayne Harris

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Writer / Director: Lorena Gordon

This was by far the most wholesome short of the day. At Last is the story of a closeted gay girl who goes to prom with her platonic best friend who has Down syndrome. Once there, she changes out of her dress and into a suit, and proceeds to ask her crush to dance. Said crush turns out to also be gay and have a crush on our main character, and they have the most adorable awkward flirting high school prom night relationship that I think I’ve ever seen between two gay characters. Don’t even get me started on how poorly Prom executed this premise. There’s no homophobia at all, although there are a couple of dramatic emotional scenes towards the end, so you can watch this and feel fully happy upon finishing.

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Pens and Pencils

My Rating: 5 Stars

Writer: Gem Little

Director: Gia-Rayne Harris

screenshot of main character from Pens and Pencils directed by Gia-Rayne Harris

This piece was TOUGH. You have to make sure you’re going into this with the right mindset, especially if you’re a black person. Gem Little created this for the Black TV and Film Collective Fellowship under the topic “Police in the School System”, and it also serves as a proof of concept for a future black woman led sci-fi series called Mule. The film’s protagonist is a black woman teacher who struggles with her role within the school system and disciplining other students. She has flashbacks between a man who is currently in prison, and one of her young students that she sends to the principal’s office after he refuses to stop using his phone in class.

View on IMDb | Watch Trailer

Avalanche

cover for Avalanche directed by Heather Jack

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Writer: Molly Anne Coogan

Director: Heather Jack

This story was meta. A story within a story, so to speak. Basically, the main character has just suffered a miscarriage and is attempting to get her script picked up by a big agency. The script she is attempting to get picked up is about a woman who is trying to make it as an actress despite being too old and also suffering from a miscarriage. I thought the meta-ness really worked as a sort of commentary on society while also creating a main character to root for. It’s hard to explain more fully than this because things kept getting unveiled as the story goes on, but I really enjoyed it and thought that it was a poignant piece about aging and womanhood within the current confines of our society.

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Sorry for the Inconvenience

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Writer / Director: Jane Chow

Screenshot from Sorry for the Inconvenience by Jane Chow

The final short of the night was Sorry for the Inconvenience, a story about a young Chinese girl whose parents own a restaurant during the pandemic. The main character spends her days in Zoom school in a restaurant booth, trying her best to help her parents as well as live her own life. It was really heartbreaking because I’m sure it was a reality for so many different families during the pandemic, especially those whose livelihoods depend on the service industry. Chow talked about wanted to make films that highlight the vibrancy and beauty of Chinatown, and despite the sadness of the film I still think this achieved that!

Watch on Vimeo