Film Forum

The wildly different and lasting impacts of short films

From the animated short film “Negative Space.” (Photo: UniFrance)


For more than a decade, Fresno Filmworks has screened all three categories of Oscar-Nominated Short Films in the documentary, live action, and animation categories. Why? Because we believe that short-form cinema is alive and important.

Will short films ever regain the popularity of feature-length films? Hard to say, but there’s so much to discover within them. In the time it takes to watch one feature-length film, you may see five or more shorts, all containing different styles, purposes, and lasting impacts.

Take a look at the ways in which we’ve talked about short films through the years, as we lead up to our 14th annual Oscar shorts weekend on Feb. 8 and 9.

From the live-action short film “Bottle Rocket.” (Photo: Columbia Pictures)


In 2013, we started encountering what felt like a worldwide revival for the short-film medium. Buoyed perhaps by the age of the Internet, both amateur and veteran filmmakers began turning to short films as a way of capturing viewers’ attention and challenging themselves at their beloved craft with a new format.

From the animated short film “Stairs to No End.” (Photo: Israel Film Center)


In 2015, we looked at short films from a therapeutic lens. Here we focused on the core message of short films we’d screened and how they affected us on a personal level. Hope, sorrow, self-understanding, and appreciation were some of the themes that stood out. If you believe that works of art have a purpose, then perhaps a short film’s purpose it to nudge us into looking at the world, and ourselves, a little differently.

From the animated short film “Paperman.” (Photo: Walt Disney)


In 2016, we dove deep into the complexities surrounding otherwise innocent animated short films like the ones created by the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Though audiences often flock to animated films because they seem easier to digest and are family friendly, these short films are full of such intricacies that can really leave connect with audiences of any age. Filmmakers who create shorts tell their story quickly and succinctly, driving a central idea home in the span of just minutes. We are able to connect with these sort of animated films because the symbolic themes they offer up are easy to attach our own personal experiences to.

Sirley Carballo is a filmmaker and multimedia content creator. For Filmworks, she serves as communication director.

Every second Friday of the month, Fresno Filmworks screens first-run independent and international movies at the historic Tower Theatre.