Short Film Roundup – Tribeca 2023

Solzy at the Movies is back with the 2023 Tribeca Festival short film roundup, which consists of a number of shorts playing the fest.

The one film on my list after they announced the short films that I did not get to watch was Harry Holland’s Last Call, which stars Tom Holland. Pre-fest screeners were not available when I inquired in late May nor is the film among the short films available through Tribeca at Home. Unless I have a way of watching Last Call later this year, it will not be eligible for the Solzy Awards for Short Films.

Alden Ehrenreich in Shadow Brother Sunday.
Alden Ehrenreich in Shadow Brother Sunday. Photographer: Ben Mullen.

Shadow Brother Sunday (World Premiere)

We already know what Alden Ehrenreich can do as an actor but he shows some solid promise as a filmmaker behind the camera. The short film also has one of those premises that could really do well should Ehrenreich expand his concept into a feature film. Ehrenreich stars as a musician, who returns home with the plan to steal his brother’s computer and sell it to the paparazzi.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Alden Ehrenreich
CAST: Alden Ehrenreich, Nick Robinson, Lisa Edelstein, Jacob Wysocki, Ana Auther, Jayne Taini, and Nick Searcy

Lexi Kiery (Jade Pettyjohn) in Fish Out of Water.
Lexi Kiery (Jade Pettyjohn) in Fish Out of Water. Photo credit: Idil Eryurekli.

Fish Out of Water (World Premiere)

When Tribeca first announced their short films, I jokingly told friends that the new Scorsese was premiering at the festival. Only it’s not the Scorsese film that many people were probably thinking. In any event, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Francesca Scorsese directs one of the longer narrative short films that I watched during Tribeca. The short film runs about 26 minutes in length.

Fish Out of Water is a drama deals with Lexi (Jade Pettyjohn), a struggling young mother. She has an opportunity to connect once more with her estranged family when her father informs her that her mother is not doing well.

DIRECTOR: Francesca Scorsese
SCREENWRITERS: Francesca Scorsese, Megan LuLu Taylor, Savannah Braswell
CAST: Jade Pettyjohn, Steve Witting, Welker White, Legend Lolli, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Alana Barrett Adkins

Eddie Cohen (Will Janowitz), Chloe Cohen (Ellie Sachs), and Robert Cohen (Richard Kind) in Proof of Concept.
Eddie Cohen (Will Janowitz), Chloe Cohen (Ellie Sachs), and Robert Cohen (Richard Kind) in Proof of Concept. Photo credit : Jonah Koplin.

Proof of Concept (World Premiere)

The short film is entertaining and very inside baseball when it comes to filmmaking. It is about an auteur filmmaker, Chloe Cohen (Ellie Sachs), who is trying to talk her father, Robert Cohen (Richard Kind) and uncle, Eddie Cohen (Will Janowitz), in to financing a short film. It ends up raising more questions than anything else. With a number of locations scattered throughout New York’s Upper West Side, Proof of Concept also manages to be a love letter to New York City. It’s certainly among the more hysterical shorts playing Tribeca. But again, it’s a meta short that will appeal to anybody who loves both short films, the filmmaking process, and film festivals.

DIRECTORS/SCREENWRITERS: Max Cohn, Ellie Sachs
CAST: Richard Kind, Will Janowitz, Ellie Sachs, Will Zabar, Jair Pimental, John Bubniak, Dan Manino, Joseph Lee, Andrés Vaamonde, Alan Bezozi, Michelle Gewirtz, Amy Zorn, Steven Koplin

Jack (Ryan O'Flanagan) and Emily (Taylor Misiak) in Somewhere in Between.
Jack (Ryan O’Flanagan) and Emily (Taylor Misiak) in Somewhere in Between. Photo credit: Skyler Bocciolatt.

Somewhere in Between (World Premiere)

This short film is an awesome love letter to Back to the Future. Taking place on New Year’s Eve, a couple are looking forward to the coming year but next thing you know, a man claiming to be their son immediately crashes the evening. It’s 15 minutes long but it quickly grabs and keeps our attention. I was having so much fun in watching that I didn’t want it to end. Should the filmmakers opt to make a feature film, I certainly would watch it! We can never have enough time travel movies in my opinion.

DIRECTOR: Kyle Vorbach
SCREENWRITERS: John Horan and Kyle Vorbach
CAST: Taylor Misiak, Ryan O’Flanagan, and John Horan

Starling running home tearing through the sky.
Starling running home tearing through the sky. Courtesy of Tribeca.

Starling (World Premiere)

Pixar might be having a bad time at the box office but one nice perk of working there is that their employees can use company equipment on their own time to further their creative future. Mitra Shahidi lost a childhood friend a few years ago and Starling is cathartic in how the filmmaker chooses to explore the grief in the Istanbul-set animated short.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Mitra Shahidi

Young Mara (Sparrow Mitchell) in Everybody Dies...Sometimes.
Young Mara (Sparrow Mitchell) in Everybody Dies…Sometimes. Photo credit: Simon Plunket.

Everybody Dies…Sometimes (International Premiere)

I saw this twice–first as a pre-fest screener and then on the big screen. My thoughts are that the short plays even better on the big screen but that’s also because there are less distractions in viewing it. I felt that this was one of the more interesting shorts in that goes in one direction before taking us in a different direction. Mara (Tanya Reynolds) has this idea that she kills everyone she’s ever gotten close to. This anxiety has had a terrible impact throughout her life.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Charlotte Hamblin
CAST: Tanya Reynolds, Mathew Horne, Sparrow Michell, Emma Amos, Abi Tedder, Rosie Sheehy

New York State Assemblyman George Michaels in a still from Deciding Vote.
New York State Assemblyman George Michaels in a still from Deciding Vote (Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images).

Deciding Vote (World Premiere)

Voting in favor of abortion rights might not seem like political suicide today but that wasn’t the case when New York State Assemblyman George Michaels (D-Auburn) decided to switch his vote when the bill was deadlocked 74-74 in April 1970. This documentary short looks back on the Michaels’ decision, including his speech. His surviving family chime in through present-day interviews. It’s rather short at just 19 minutes but G-d only knows this film could be longer. Here’s to hoping more politicians can display such a profile in courage in this era.

DIRECTORS: Jeremy Workman, Robert J. Lyons
FEATURING: Jim Michaels, Lee Michaels, Sarah Michaels, Rebecca Fitzgerald, Becca Michaels Kornet, Ruth Messinger

Troy Kotsur in To My Father
Troy Kotsur in To My Father. Photo credit: Brody Carmichael. Courtesy of the Emergent Order Foundation.

To My Father (World Premiere)

This doc short is the story of Troy Kotsur and his father’s influence on his career. Kotsur’s father had been the police chief in Mesa and was in an accident, which also left him paralyzed with life-threatening injuries. The actor wouldn’t be who he is without his father, who raised a Deaf child during a very different era. Without Kotsur receiving critical acclaim and an Oscar for CODA, it’s probably unlikely that a wider audience would get to know about his father’s impact on his life.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Sean Schiavolin
FEATURING: Troy Kotsur

The 2023 Tribeca Festival ran June 7-June 18. Tribeca at Home runs June 19-July 2.

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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.

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