If it is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving weekend, this means that it is time to present the Solzy Awards for Short Films in 2020.
This certainly is not the traditional year for films. I’ll admit right now that I have not watched nor covered anywhere close to the amount of short films like in prior years. Some of this definitely comes down to festivals getting cancelled. While SXSW and Tribeca got cancelled this year, many shorts were still available for press and industry. At the same time, the general public didn’t quite have the same access. My thoughts as March gave way to April was basically: what content will get people to visit my site? And so, I just didn’t feel the need to really watch or cover what few films were available through Tribeca’s press library if nobody was going to see the films anytime soon.
While I could show extreme bias and outright award Pandemic Therapy, it wouldn’t be fair to other filmmakers.
There’s usually at least one short film that stays with me following the premiere. This year, Meats was one of those films. I’ve been a fan of Ashley Williams’s work going back to her work in Good Morning, Miami. I know a number of vegans and vegetarians so I loved this idea of non-meat eats developing cravings for meat while pregnant. I wrote more about the film during Sundance (click on the above link). Coincidentally, you can also watch the Solzy Award-winning short film starting Thursday on Topic’s streaming service.
I fell in love with three three shorts for very different reasons.
This is another film that stayed with me this year because of the content. When I first saw the film for SXSW coverage consideration, it must have been February or March. Even though I watched it over two months before the racial protests, I knew then how important the film was. One of the things I see going around a lot is how Jews of Color get treated differently in their communities. Here we have a girl prepping for her Bat Mitzvah and feeling like she has to choose between race and religion.
Any animated short film from Disney is usually a contender in this category. If not for the pandemic, it’s quite possible that we don’t have one of the most existential films of the year. This film also features some of what we saw in Frozen but through Olaf’s perspective. What happened to Olaf as he came to life outside of Arrendale? How did he come to terms with his identity?
Blackheads is one of the few animated shorts that piqued my interest heading into SXSW in March. Before the fest was cancelled, that is.
Best Documentary Short (TIE): The Lost Astronaut (Ben Proudfoot), Tangled Roots (Samantha Knowles)
I didn’t watch either of these two films until they screened during the Black Perspectives program of the Meet the Press sidebar of AFI FEST. The Lost Astronaut is a short doc on Ed Dwight Jr. He had been set to become the first Black astronaut in 1963 but things suddenly changed. Technically, Ben Proudfoot’s film premiered last December through The New York Times Op-Docs but I’m considering it eligible for 2020 since I both saw it this year and announce my short film awards just before Thanksgiving.
Tangled Roots follows Kentucky State Representative Attica Scott in her efforts to dismantle discrimination against Black people for being penalized for their hair. The film was set to make its world premiere during Tribeca earlier this year. I’m a Kentucky native so I knew I had to watch the film. After all, it is about a member of the Kentucky General Assembly. Plus, I still keep myself apprised of Kentucky politics. You can watch the film through BET.