The Best Short Films of 2022
If we’re going to keep referring to short films by that moniker, can we start calling feature films “longs”? Or at least acknowledge that the length of a film does not correspond to its worth? Until such a time, separate recognition remains necessary.
Below you’ll find a handful of 2022 premieres under 45 minutes—the arbitrary marker used by most festivals to categorize shorts—that I have seen and think deserve an audience. These selections span narrative, experimental, animation, and documentary modes, and represent a variety of nations. Lest short films still be considered stepping stones to features, this list includes two auteurs already well-established in the latter realm, and one breakout filmmaker who premiered both a feature and a short this year. It’s difficult to say when or where you’ll be able to watch most of these films, but in the cases where their distribution path is known, it has been noted. My 10 selections are listed in no particular order.
Read all of Film Comment’s Best Films of 2022 lists here.
Conspiracy Simone Leigh and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, U.S.
This sonic wonder, which premiered as part of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale, documents Leigh’s practice as a sculptor and her evocation of the endurance of Black womanhood by way of spirit and tradition. As scholar Yasmina Price puts it, the film is “an incantation of multiple architectures of the self for black women.”
Constant Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner, Germany
Litventseva and Wagner unpack the faulty legacy of standardized measurement in this would-be heist movie about the metric system.
Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, Ukraine/U.S.
Artists redirect their skills and efforts to serve wartime needs in this poetic The New Yorker–produced missive from contemporary Ukraine. Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk also premiered a feature, Pamfir, this year at Cannes; it remains one of the best films of 2022 yet to acquire U.S. distribution. (Liturgy will stream on The New Yorker website in 2023.)
Snow in September Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir, Mongolia/France
A mysterious stranger stirs a teenage boy’s self-conscious sexual awakening in this tense and subtle short from Mongolia, winner of the Best Short Film Award at the 2022 Venice Film Festival.
F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now Fox Maxy, U.S.
Maxy’s characteristically kinetic rush of image and sound coalesces into a personal ode to her familial Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians. Her feature debut, Gush, will premiere in the New Frontier section of Sundance 2023.
Instant Life Andrew Kim, Anja Dornieden, and Juan David González Monroy; Germany/U.S.
This tripartite short is a remake of a 1981 film that itself was a remake of a 1941 film. Or is it? Much remains murky in Kim, Dornieden, and Monroy’s rich, Borgesian nature riddle, shot—and ideally projected—on vivid 16mm film.
The Potemkinists Radu Jude, Romania
Jude, the prolific Romanian auteur behind last year’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, playfully considers the lives of monuments in a comic unraveling of the historical event that inspired Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.
Le Pupille Alice Rohrwacher, Italy/U.S.
From one of the world’s greatest working filmmakers, this is a family-friendly Christmas tale about a group of girls at a Catholic boarding school, “clumsily and freely based on a letter the writer Elsa Morante sent to her friend Goffredo Fofi.” (Streaming on Disney+ starting December 16th.)
Amok Balázs Turai, Hungary/Romania
A demonic, bare-chested Santa figure wreaks bloody havoc in this wordless animated waterfall of Freudian psychedelia.
Ridiculous Nurshad Ikram Nurmehmet, China
In this under-the-radar gem, a group of Uyghur friends debate a dubious opinion about COVID-19 over a hearty meal, as Emir Kusturica’s Underground plays on a TV in the background.
Inney Prakash is a film programmer based in New York City.