From animation to live-action, and girly bildungsromans to melancholic dramas, these films are perfect for the girls and gays who don’t have the time to watch feature-length films directed by women and non-binary folks.
#10: Twins in Paradise (2020) dir. by Victoria Vincent
Animated by the incredible artist Victoria Vincent (also known as Vewn), Twins in Paradise is a short film following two twin sisters who cope with the pressure of tennis stardom and the absence of their deceased mother in an increasingly unstable society.
The themes of coming-of-age in an off-the-rails society, fractured sisterhood, and self-destructive inner demons are bound to be insanely relatable to a contemporary viewer. Not to mention the pure chaos of this ten-minute short – from the colorful, dynamic art style to the wild, drug-induced shenanigans of its two main characters, this short has everything.
So, if you’re into hallucinations of resurrecting a dead mother or simply have a thing for the “neon girlpop” aesthetic, you should definitely check out Twins in Paradise.
(Also, Content Warning for drug abuse)
#9: Marguerite (2017) dir. by Marianne Farley
This Quebecois Oscar-nominated short follows an aging woman and her nurse as they develop a friendship that, over time, inspires the elderly woman to come to terms with her sapphic identity.
Sensual, tender, and oh-so-human, this slow-paced short that runs just below 20 minutes and gets at the heart of identity, reconciliation with the past, and the all-encompassing monotonous beauty of life (the latter depicted even more gorgeously by the film’s poster).
If you’re in for a tear-jerker (en français!) about a woman finding herself late in life, check out Marguerite for free on Vimeo.
#8: God Save the Queen (2020) dir. by Shelby Alayne Antel and Andy Hones
Co-written, and co-directed by, and starring Shelby Alayne Antel, this comedic short film takes a colorful, dreamlike odyssey alongside its protagonist, a frustrated prom queen on the night of her big day, as she sarcastically discusses her circumstances to the viewer in a hazy one-on-one conversation.
Upon first-watch, I impulsively deemed God Save the Queen as “a unique combination of a friend ranting to you at 1 a.m. and an extremely aesthetically-pleasing infomercial,” and I can safely say that, months later, this still perfectly encapsulates the quirky (and not cringey) nature of this lovingly-crafted short film.
Thanks to God Save the Queen’s lovely cinematography, as well as Antel’s hilarious performance, in just over 12 minutes, you will laugh, you will cry, and you will want to paint every breathtaking frame of this short — so go give it a watch for free over on Vimeo.
#7: Empty Cul-de-Sacs (텅 빈 놀이터) (2020) dir. by Casey Anderson
Brimming with themes of coming-of-age, female friendship, and cultural identity, Empty Cul-de-Sacs follows two young best friends during their last night together on a journey told through fuzzy vignettes and strings of half-Korean, half-English dialogue.
The night – starting off sweet and ending more than a little bitter – depicts the real-life duality of friendships cultivated from a young age and illustrates how, in spite of how strong a friendship may be, it may still end prematurely.
This film placates you about old friendships lost to time, telling you, “It’s okay that it’s over, because it was great while it lasted.”
In spite of the 15-minute film’s technical shortcomings, it showcases love and passion for a complex story of female friendship, something many viewers (including myself) can relate to.
Check it out for free here:
#6: Ophelia (2018) dir. by Celina Mae Medina
Melancholic and heartbreaking, this 15-minute Filipino film follows a depressed college student who is denied psychiatric help from her parents.
Alongside a muted color palette and simple backdrops, this film discusses extremely heavy topics such as mental illness, parental neglect, and suicide — so please keep these content warnings in mind before watching.
In spite of the weight of its subject matter, Ophelia is a raw depiction of the real-life repercussions that stigmas surrounding mental illness can have, especially on young queer women of color.
As long as you’re in the right headspace, I would highly recommend you give it a watch for free on YouTube:
#5: To The Girl That Looks Like Me (2021) dir. by Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah
Gorgeous in every sense of the word, To The Girl That Looks Like Me is an experimental poetic love letter to Black womanhood that explores Black culture and its subsequent appropriation, self-love, and self-discovery, all in less than 5 minutes.
Through quick edits, bejeweled makeup, and choreographed dance, Dawson-Amoah gives us a glimpse of how Black girls and women are treated and perceived in a world not built for them.
Whether through its thought-provoking narration or its stunning cinematography, this film will leave you speechless, so go give it a watch, like, right now.
#4: Misdirection (2019) dir. by Carly Usdin
A queer comedy about college, crushes, and compulsivity, Misdirection – directed by and starring two incredible non-binary talents – follows a college freshman as she falls in love with the art of magic tricks in order to escape the crush she has on her (straight) best friend and her unrelenting struggles with OCD.
Funny in all the right places, Misdirection still manages to tug at its viewers’ heartstrings with the aid of its lovable protagonist and oh-so-relatable subject matter, while still remaining a light and fun watch.
If you’re interested in the misadventures of a sapphic novice magician, check this short film out here:
#3: The Present (الهدية) (2020) dir. by Farah Nabulsi
Beautifully directed by British-Palestinian director Farah Nabulsi, The Present follows a man, Yusef, and his daughter as they set out on a journey through the West Bank to buy Yusef’s wife an anniversary gift.
What starts off as a seemingly simple task becomes an increasingly life-threatening trek amongst armed soldiers, segregated roads, and awkward checkpoints that leave Yusef and his daughter reeling from the sheer cruelty of Israeli occupation.
Raw in its depiction and unyielding in its execution, The Present offers a rare glimpse of the state of affairs in the West Bank from the eyes of an average Palestinian, all in less than thirty minutes.
If you’re prepared for some disturbing imagery and hard-to-swallow themes, I highly recommend you check out this extremely important film, available to stream on Amazon Prime and Netflix.
#2: Sometimes, I Think About Dying (2019) dir. by Stefanie Abel Horowitz
An official selection in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Sometimes I Think About Dying is an extremely moving short film about the pain and loneliness of social anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
The film follows the narration of Fran, an office worker who regularly thinks about death and dying, as she attempts a relationship with a coworker, all the while keeping her loud thoughts hidden away.
The compelling performance by Katy Wright-Mead, in addition to the melancholic color palette, makes this a story that just might bring those who are all too familiar with its depiction of mental health struggles to tears.
While I’d like to issue an enormous content warning for suicidal ideation, I think this is an incredible little film that deserves to be seen (and is slated for a 2023 feature-film adaptation and release directed by Rachel Lambert).
Check it out here:
#1: The Widow (2015) dir. by Katie Found
Directed by the same woman who wrote and directed the Australian sapphic coming-of-age film My First Summer (a.k.a. one of my favorite movies of all time), The Widow is Found’s first dive into filmmaking, following a woman who is suspended between the duties of wife and caregiver of her severely mentally-ill husband.
With nothing but a dimly-lit house and a room filled with goddamn tissues, Found creates a less-than-10-minute masterpiece that subtly explores themes of guilt, obligation, and the toll that taking care of a loved one can have on a person's life.
This short is criminally underseen and had me in tears by the end of my first watch, so I simply had no choice but to gift it the number one spot on this list — not because it’s a perfect short film, but because it deserves to be seen and loved by those who need to hear its message the most.
Go give it a watch right this instant:
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