SXSW 2018: Shorts Roundup

Rachel Sennott as Danielle in SHIVA BABY.

A number of shorts premiered during the 2018 SXSW Film Festival.  What follows below is a recap of some of the films that I had a chance to watch during SXSW, including Men Don’t Whisper, which I previously saw during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.  Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby takes the honor for the best live-action short I so far during the festival.

Shiva Baby

Rachel Sennott as Danielle in SHIVA BABY.

Emma Seligman’s short film is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen to be set during a shiva.  This even takes the film adaptation of This Is Where I Leave You into account.  Rachel Sennott stars as Danielle, a college student who has hooked up with a sugar daddy.  She runs into him at the funeral and a ton of chaos shortly ensues.

I love what Seligman did with the film.  Among the narrative shorts, it’s one of my favorites to premiere this year.  Having spoken with Emma the other day, I can’t wait to see what the feature version of the film looks like.  If this film is any indication, she’ll have a bright and promising future as a director.

Men Don’t Whisper

Jordan Firstman, Bridey Elliott, Charles Rogers and Clare McNulty appear in Men Don’t Whisper. Photo Credit: Drew Daniels

I recapped this one during Sundance.  The short film will be released on March 14, 2018.

We Win

Ana Nogueira & William Jackson Harper in We Win. Photo Credit: Autumn Eakin

Michael Stahl-David, directing from a script co-written with Ana Nogueira, reteamed with The Light of the Moon cinematographer Autumn Eakin for a short that takes place during a mafia game night.  It’s nothing at all like the recently released Game Night but the stakes get raised on relationships in the short starring Nogueira and William Jackson Harper.

On My Way Out: The Secret Life of Nani and Popi

Co-directed by Brandon Gross and Skyler Gross, this documentary short about their grandparents, Roman and Ruth Blank, premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival.  At 40 minutes, it may be a bit long but it’s one of those stories that you can’t believe.  At 95 years old, a big secret gets revealed when Roman reveals that he’s gay.  It has drastic consequences on the family.  Not only do their children have to come to terms but it’s a secret so big that Ruth may never be the same.

Roman reveals that he knew from a young age but decided that it was better to live in the closet than risk getting murdered for being out in the open.

Death Metal Grandma

Inge with her band the TritoneKings.

Director Leah Galant follows Inge Ginsberg as the Holocaust survivor makes one last attempt for fame as a Death Metal Singer.  Ginsburg auditions for America’s Got Talent.  No matter what happens with the audition, if there’s a message from the film, it’s that one should never give up on their dreams.

Ginsberg relocated to Switzerland in 1942 as a refugee and later worked as a spy for the OSS!  Here’s how fresh the film is:  she auditions for America’s Got Talent in the fall of 2017!

Are We Good Parents?

Are We Good Parents?
Photo. Credit: Ludovica Isidori

Directed by Bola Ogun, the short comedy stars Tracie Thoms, Sean Maguire, and Gabrielle Skye Goodman.  Lauren (Thoms) and Bill (Maguire) have always assumed their daughter is gay.  When they learn she’s going to her first dance with Ryan, they have mixed feelings.  Their daughter never came out before so they start to worry about the environment they raised her in and whether or not they did the right things.

It’s a fun short and hits all the right beats.

Pink Trailer

Jenny Leiferman and Macey Isaacs. Credit: Jeff Leeds Cohn

Pink Trailer is a dark comedy directed by Mary Neely and written by stars Jenny Leiferman and Macey Isaacs.  The short is about two best friends, Lucy (Isaacs) and Julie (Leiferman), who are doing their best to hide from their neighbor, Benny (Bill Kottkamp).  While Lucy is taking anti-depressants, she runs out of them and soon, they have to deal with Benny whether they like it or not.

With a background in improv, Neely is a filmmaker to watch.  Both Leiferman and Isaacs display chemistry and the two ought to be a force to be reckoned with in whatever future projects they work on.



Undiscovered is the Sasquatch movies to end all Sasquatch movies.  Filmmaker Sara Litzenberger puts so much heart and emotion into her animated take on the mysterious Bigfoot and why the creature is so elusive when it comes to photos.  In just under three minutes, this animated short is enough to rival any animated short coming from the Disney/Pixar factory.  All Sasquatch wants is to have a good photo taken.  This is where the hikers come into play–they have cameras but once he jumps into frame, anything goes and he just can’t get a good photo taken of himself.  The last hiker who is really old school by using a Polaroid camera–a las, the hiker trips and leaves the camera behind leaving Sasquatch to take as many selfies as he wants

For more on the shorts and when they’re playing at SXSW, click here.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

2 thoughts on “SXSW 2018: Shorts Roundup

Leave a Reply