March 19, 2021

With the Great Corona Hiatus upon us, Paris’s cinemas are shuttered and enjoying movies has become an endless variation on “home entertainment.”

It won’t be surprising if you say you have watched most of the movies from your watch-list in the past year and even explored many new films with varying themes and genres. While two-hour movies are great for most people, there are many who just love watching short films. Some believe the shorter the film, the better it is, as they fit within their schedule. And why not? People can watch short movies during lunch breaks at work, during leisure time between study breaks, while surfing the web at night, or whenever during the day there are minutes to spare.

On the other side, short films generally convey a strong emotion to the audience, and the viewers can also feel a strong connection with the characters in the film and its central message. So along with the time frame, this inherent feature of short films makes them even more engaging for the audience.

An original motion picture with a running time of 40 minutes or less is classified as a short film. With a wide range of films and being one of the biggest exporters of films in the world, France to this day has a stronghold in the art of cinema and film making. Here’s a list of distinguished and well-acclaimed short French films that are must watch!

1.   The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge) (1956)

This fantasy comedy drama interestingly captures the innocence and adventures of a young boy who discovers a large red balloon. He realizes that it has a will of its own, and they follow one another through the spectacular streets of Paris. This 34 minute short film won numerous awards. Film director Albert Lamorisse won an Oscar for writing the Best Original Screenplay, the Palme d’Or for short films at the Cannes Film Festival, BAFTA Special Award (Film), and BAFTA Special Award (Film). The Red Balloon is the only short film to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

2.   The Jetty (La Jetée) (1962)

This 28 minute short film directed by Chris Marker was part of the French New Wave cinema. The movie is incredibly poetic and is almost entirely made of still images in black and white. This futuristic film explores the elements of time and memory, and the storyline is set in the aftermath of a nuclear war that has destroyed Paris. This film won the Prix Jean Vigo award for the Best Short Film, and several concepts from La Jetée were an inspiration for the 1995 science fiction film ’12 Monkeys.’

3.   I’ll Wait For The Next One (J’attendrai le suivant) (2002)

With four minutes of runtime, this film makes most of its short running time, and is timed perfectly. Be ready to feel completely immersed in the emotion of the characters along with the narrative. The film is directed by Philippe Orreindy, who shot every scene almost entirely on a metro train. The film won the César Award, European Film Award, and New York Film Festival Awards for Best Short Film (France). It was also nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Short Film, Live Action.

4.   Nefta Football Club (2018)

This live action short film is about two football fan brothers who bump into a headphones-wearing donkey in a desert on the borders of Algeria. This delightful 17 minute film is full of vigor and optimism, and a wonderful mix of children’s innocence, amusing comedy, clever dialogue, and a beautiful desert landscape. The two young stars and their journey are charming, and the story closes with an unexpected ending. The film received a nomination at the Academy Awards for Best Live Action Short Film, and at the César Awards for Best Short Film. It has also garnered a couple of film festival awards at CINEMED and at Florida Film Festival, among others.

5.   The Mozart of Pickpockets (Le Mozart des pickpockets) (2006)

This entertaining and witty film is about two pickpockets posing as policemen. The two men decide to make the team three by including the young boy, but soon things go downhill for them. This 31 minute film was directed by Dir. Philippe Pollet-Villard won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, and also won the César Award for Best Short Film.

6.   Just Before Losing Everything (2013)

This Oscar nominated Live Action Short Film will have you holding your breath throughout. While watching this 31 minute film, it feels like you have a lot of questions. It takes a while to realize what’s going on, and why is the woman and her children on the run? This high-tension film is a story about a frightened woman and her children who try to escape from the horrors at home.

7.   Oktapodi (2007)

Oktapodi was originally created as a graduate student project. This film is about a pair of octopuses in love who go through a series of events that separates and reunites them. It is a short and sweet entertainment with gorgeous animation. This 2.5 minute film won several awards as Best Animated Film or for Best Character Animation, and received a nomination for Short Film (Animated) at the Academy Awards. The Academy Film Archive has preserved this film under the ACME Filmworks collection.

8.   Happy Anniversary (Heureux Anniversaire) (1962)

This 12 minute French short comedy is about a young woman who impatiently waits for her husband to arrive at home for their romantic anniversary dinner. The husband is out on the streets of Paris running errands to pick up anniversary gifts for his wife, but various situations hold him up from reaching home in time for their celebration. The film won Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Live Action Subjects), and BAFTA Award for Best Short Film.

9.   Omnibus (1992)

Directed by Sam Karmann, this 8 minute short comedy film is about a Frenchman who mistakenly boarded the express train that does not stop at the station near his work. He desperately tries to convince the train driver to let him get off the train. The film won an Oscar and the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film, won Short Film Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and was also nominated for Best Short Film at the César Awards.

10.   Majorettes in Space (Des majorettes dans l’espace) (1997)

Directed by David Fourier, this 6 minute comical film with tremendous wit, brings up some extremely serious issues for viewers to take into account. The film deftly mixes entertainment with intellectual stimulation. It has won the BAFTA Award as well as the César Award for Best Short Film.

If you still feel you are running out of movie suggestions, you can check out this link for many more Short Films from France. Watching short films is surely worthwhile!


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