Cineuropa Shorts: Top European Shorts of 2014

As 2015 begins and the numerous lists of ‘Top Feature Films of 2014’ get published, Cineuropa Shorts had surveyed a selection of the most important people on the European short film scene to discover the favourite short films of 2014 (or at least those shorts that came to prominence in 2014). The chosen films represent a diverse selection of films and genres and represent the breadth and depth of shorts currently being created in Europe today.

The very nature of the diversity means that the lists are very different, though a few films have proved to strike a chord amongst all those surveyed. These include The Chicken (the recent recipient of the European Film Award for Best Short), Adrian Sitaru’s playful Art, Hungarian animation Symphony No.42 and the Finnish experimental documentary Emergency Calls.

In 2015 Cineuropa Shorts will look forward to covering the best and most exciting short films of the year and the festivals and events that showcase them. In the meantime, enjoy the following lists from Festival Directors, Filmmakers and journalists as they choose their favourite shorts of 2014.

Gaia Meucci (Short Film Curator, Encounters Short Film Festival, UK/Italy)

Serori (Dir. Pedro Collantes, Netherlands/Spain)
I thought this was funny, charming and quite shocking at the same time. Another great example of Pedro Collantes' talent for observing characters and drawing compelling situations from small, everyday encounters.

The Chicken (Dir. Una Gunjak, Germany / Croatia)
A truly impressive piece, so well narrated and sensitively constructed. in 15 minutes it plunges us in a Sarajevo household in 1993 as a little girl comes to terms with the implications of her actions in a country at war.

Escort (Dir. Guido Hendrikx, The Netherlands)
Gripping and very intelligently observed, this short documentary has the great merit of providing an unusual angle on a controversial issue, as we follow the three weeks training of the officers specialised in forced return of reused asylum seekers in Europe.

Working to Beat the Devil (Dirs. Chu-Li Shewring & Adam Gutch, UK)
Watching this was as demanding as rewarding a viewing experience for me. A bold, philosophical, and visually haunting portrait of an ageing scientist imagination.

Emergency Calls (Dirs. Hannes Vartiainen & Pekka Veikkolainen, Finland)
The impact of real emergency calls takes a metaphysical quality through the daring and imaginative visual style of this Finnish short. As we hear day-to-day dramas unfolding down the telephone line, we are reminded of the fragility of the human condition and of the invisible ties which connect us with one another.

Wouter Jansen (Distributor: Some Shorts / Programmer Go Short, The Netherlands)

Schipbreuk (Shipwreck) (Dir. Morgan Knibbe, The Netherlands)

Earth over Wind (Dir. Joern Utkilen, Norway)

Gangsters Backstage (Dir.Teboho Edkins, France)

Symphony No 42 (Dir.Reka Bucsi , Hungary)

The Noisemaker (Dir. Karolis Kaupinis, Lithuania / Sweden)

Marija Razgute (Producer of The Noisemaker / Artistic Director of Vilnius Film Shorts, Lithuania)

Abandoned Goods (Dirs. Pia Borg & Edward Lawrenson, UK)

Deserted (Dir. Yoav Hornung, Israel)

Beach Boy (Dir. Emil Langballe, Denmark/UK)

RIO 2016 (Dir. Bianca Rotaru, Romania)

Butter Lamp (La lampe au beurre de yak) (Dir. Hu Wei, France/China)

Dawn Sharpless (Distributor / Curator, Dazzle Films, UK)

Anthony (Dir. Jonathan Van Tulleken, UK)

Beat (Dir. Aneil Karia, UK)

Burger (Dir. Magnus Mork, UK/Norway)

Crocodile (Dir. Gaëlle Denis, UK)

The Boy With The Camera For A Face (Dir. Spencer Brown, UK)

Laurence Boyce (Cineuropa Shorts / Programme Director Sleepwalkers, UK/Estonia)

Art (Arta) (Dir.Adrian Sitaru, Romania)
A clever and playful piece of work it’s already struck a chord amongst festival audiences and it’s going to do a lot more during 2015. Look for it winning a ton of awards.

Our Curse (Nasza klatwa) (Dir. Tomasz Sliwinski, Poland)
A brilliant and moving documentary charting the plight of a mother and a father dealing with their son’s illness. It’s tragic yet also full of hope. It’s currently on the shortlist for an Oscar, so let’s see if it gets a nomination like it deserves.

Yes We Love (Dir. Halvar Witzo, Norway)
A brilliantly funny film from the director of the Oscar winning Tuba Atlantic. Four little vignettes that work as wonderful little surprises.

Cupcake (Dir. Jane Magnusson, Sweden)
Two strong performances and intimate direction make this film about two lovers whose forced seperation is imminent one of the year's best. It manages to be both clever and emotional and it's an astonishing film.

Dembava (Dir. Laurynas Bareisa, Lithuania)
A devastating piece of work that eschews dialogue to create a horrifying narrative based on a true story. A masterclass in economy and mood, made all the more remarkable in that it is a student film.

John Canciani (Artistic Director, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, Switzerland)

All That is Solid (Dir. Louis Henderson, UK/Ghana)

Redemption (Dir. Miguel Gomes, Portugal/France/Germany/Italy)

Totems (Dir. Sarah Arnolds, France/Switzerland)

As Long As Shotguns Remain (Tant qu'il nous reste des fusils à pompe) (Dirs.Caroline Poggi & Jonathan Vinel, France)

Working to Beat the Devil (Dirs. Chu-Li Shewring & Adam Gutch, UK) 

Anna Veilande-Kustikova (Riga International Film Festival, Latvia)

The Satanical Thicket-One (Dir. Willy Hans, Germany)

Art (Arta) (Dir.Adrian Sitaru, Romania)

Symphony No 42 (Dir.Reka Bucsi , Hungary)

Ik (Dir. Jona Honer, The Netherlands)

Castratus The Boar (Dirs. Kastrāts Kuilis, Raitis Ābele & Lauris Ābele, Latvia) & Dembava (Dir. Laurynas Bareisa, Lithuania)

Simon Young (Director of Acquisitions, Shorts International / Short Film Advisor London Film Festival, UK)

The Karman Line (Dir. Oscar Sharp, UK)

Subordinate (Dir. Clara Leac, France)

The Nostalgist (Dir. Giacomo Cimini, UK)

The Secret World of Foley (Dir.Daniel Jewel, UK)

A Little Secret [Strach] (Dir. Martin Krejci, Czech Republic)

Molly Cowderoy (Programmer at Short Film City, Leeds International Film Festival, UK)

Art (Arta) (Dir.Adrian Sitaru, Romania)

The Chicken (Dir. Una Gunjak, Germany/Croatia)

Discipline (Dir. Christophe M. Saber, Switzerland)

Washingtonia (Dir. Konstantina Kotzamani, Greece)

Chorus (Coro Dos Amantes) (Dir. Tiago Guedes, Portugal)

Alexei Dmtriev (Filmmaker, Russia)

Art (Arta) (Dir.Adrian Sitaru, Romania)
It’s tempting to call Art the best fiction this year, but it’s not. It’s not really fiction (that Sitaru is a master of already). It’s much more diverse, hence — better.

Symphony No 42 (Dir.Reka Bucsi , Hungary)
The most well-known film on the list, so I will not write about it. But I will tell you one thing: go to Google Images and type in the director’s name. You can thank me later.

Howto (Dir. Elisabeth Caravella, France)
I saw this film only two weeks ago, and it easily became my favourite European experimental film of the year. Crazy, unexpected and fun.

Blessed be this Place (Dir. Carl Olsson, Denmark)
A Scandinavian cocktail of documentary and experimental film with a twist of fiction.

Parking (Dir. Ivaylo Minov, Bulgaria)
I can bet 5 euros (which is a lot of money in Russia now) that this will be a hit in 2015.

Carmen Gray (Film Editor Of Dazed, UK)

To Fly or Not to Fly (Dir. Aniela Gabryel, Poland)

Wantee (Dir. Laure Prouvost, France/US)

Pilots on the Way Home (Dir. Olga and Priit Parn, Estonia)

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, 2: Time (Dirs. Becky Sloane & Joseph Pelling, UK)

Shrove Sunday (Dir. Dina Barinova, Russia

Niclas Gillberg (Director Uppsala International Short Film Festival, Sweden)

Symphony No 42 (Dir.Reka Bucsi , Hungary)

The Bigger Picture (Dir. Daisy Jacobs, UK)

The Chicken (Dir. Una Gunjak, Germany/Croatia)

La météo des plages (Dir. Aude Léa Rapin, France)

Oripeaux (Dirs. Sonia Gerbeaud & Mathias De Panafieu, France)

Michael Pattison (Journalist, iD Film, UK)

The Take-Up (Dir. Patrick Tarrant, UK)

Salt Flats (Alykes) (Dirs. Ira Dika & Yorgos Savoglou, Greece)

No Novo Céio (I den nya himlen) (Dir. Eloy Domínguez Serén, Sweden/Spain)

Rivers Valleys Mountains (Flüsse Täler Berge) (Dir. Marco Kugel, Austria)

The Dogwalker (Hundvakten) (Dir. Caroline Ingvarsson, Sweden)

Sven Schwarz  (Managing Director at the Hamburg International Short Film Festival / Curator at A Wall is a Screen, Germany)

Seven Times a Day We Complain About Our Fate and at Night We Get up to Avoid Our Dreams (Dir.Susann Maria Hempel, Germany)
After this fantastic piece of experimental hand-made animation totally deserved to have won the „grand-slam“ of German awards for short films (Hamburg, Oberhausen, Dresden and the German Short Film Award“) I am pretty sure that the film will have a fantastic international festival run, starting with a slot in Clermont-Ferrands Labo. This work of art has to be seen on the big screen and will draws you into its gloomy story through its absolutely dazzling animated world.

San Siro (Dir. Yuri Ancarani, Italy 2014)
Even if you do not care about soccer or in this case soccer stadiums at all you will say that this was the shortest half hour of film you’ve ever seen. Brilliant images showing the spaceship like San Siro stadium that leave you craving for more.

Butter Lamp (La lampe au beurre de yak) (Dir. Hu Wei, France/China)
Naming this film as one of the best of 2014 is somehow stating the obvious. Awards everywhere in Europe leading up to being shortlisted for an Academy Award. But in the end this brilliant fictitious observation absolutely deserved all the award and praise it received. In no better way has the gaze of the spectator ever been turned around to question who is looking at whom…

Démontable (DirDouwe Dijkstra, Netherlands)
The best way to describe the media craziness of everyday war time news directly on our kitchen table. (or so). 12 loaded minutes of thought provoking, surprising and entertaining filmmaking.

M.A. Numminen in der Sauna (Dir. Claes Olson, Finland)
This film shows that true short films only need very short time and a few ingredients to be perfect: naked men, singing, a sauna and the maestro himself M.A. Numminen. A kick into the ass of every high browish approach to short film!

Marcin Łuczaj (Programmer ZUBROFFKA Short Film Festival, Poland)

Beach Boy (Dir. Emil Langballe, Uk)

Cupcake (Dir. Jane Magnusson, Sweden)

The Return (Dir. Yohann Kouam, France)

Symphony No. 42 (Dir.Reka Bucsi , Hungary)

Washingtonia (Dir. Konstantina Kotzamani, Greece)

Philip Ilson (Director London Short Film Festival / Short Film Advisor London Film Festival, UK)

Beat (Dir. Aneil Karia, UK)

Shiteaters (Dir. Agata Wojcierowska, Poland)

Emergency Calls (Dirs. Hannes Vartiainen & Pekka Veikkolainen, Finland)

Adeline For Leaves (Dir. Jessica Sarah Rinland, UK)

Leidi (Simon Mesa Soto, UK)

Enrico Vannucci (Short Film Advisor Venice Film Festival / Ozu Film Festival, Italy)

Arta (Dir. Adrian Sitaru, Romania)

Deserted (Dir. Yoav Hornung, Israel)

Les corps étrangers (Dir. Laura Wandel, Belgium)

Marc Jacobs (Dir. San de Jong, The Netherlands)

The Bigger Picture (Dir. Daisy Jacobs, United Kingdom)

Matt Lloyd (Director Glasgow Short Film Festival, UK)

Schipbreuk (Shipwreck) (Dir. Morgan Knibbe, The Netherlands)

Escort (Dir. Guido Hendrikx, The Netherlands)
Two vital Dutch documentaries exploring different, but equally tragic experiences of migration. The former observes the aftermath of a mass drowning off the coast of Lampedusa, in swooping mournful Steadicam. The latter is a measured account of how Dutch border guards are trained to return failed asylum seekers to their country of origin. Hendrikx brilliantly captures the internal conflicts of the young trainees, treating a difficult and emotive subject with considerable humanity. Apparently the film has been withdrawn at the request of the Dutch Border Patrol – if true, this seems a deeply crass and self-defeating act.

An Incredibly Elastic Man (Nieprawdopodobnie Elastyczny Człowiek) (Dir.Karolina Specht, Poland)
An inventive animation which explores notions of space, human relations and the cinematic frame in a fresh and highly entertaining manner.

San Siro (Dir. Yuri Ancarani, Italy)
I had the good fortune to see this at Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, on a massive cinema screen - which is undoubtedly where it belongs. Charting the preparations for a match at Milan’s Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, this film manages to be both a monumental architectural study and an essay in anticipation and rising tension, which had this non-football-fan riveted for all of its 26 minutes.

Please Relax Now (Dir. Vika Kirchenbauer, Germany)
I saw this at IndieCork Film Festival. The back three rows were filled with rowdy young men – not the usual short film audience, and certainly not the expected audience for this direct-to-camera invitation by transgendered artist Kirchenbauer to openly masturbate in the cinema auditorium. Their shifting reactions – amusement, mockery, discomfort and finally outrage – were priceless, making this my favourite cinematic memory of 2014.

02 January 2015, by Laurence Boyce