Short films are often made with a practical purpose in mind: to serve as a calling card on the path to feature funding, to show off the cool camera trick someone picked up, to showcase everything learned at film school, to reach a (hopefully) memorable punchline. It’s the reason so many shorts are forgettable — they seldom stand by themselves, though there’s no rule that a film has to be at least 70 minutes long to have a purpose. And the greatest proof of that fact is Benh Zeitlin’s epic short “Glory at Sea,” which you can now watch online here, 25 minutes of messy and magnificent post-Katrina magical realism. The film premiered at SXSW this year — on the way to the festival, the filmmaker was in a bad car accident that left him in the hospital, which is even more unfortunate when you’re sans health insurance — and has been a critical favorite since. I’m happy to have a chance to see it again.
And while you’ve got the headphones on, New York has “The Last 15,” a 2007 short from Antonio Campos, of this year’s divisive directorial debut “Afterschool,” up online to watch as well. Regarding the latter — I found it heavy handed, overblown and mostly insufferable, but there’s no denying how wicked talented Campos is, and the short falls along the same lines. Campos, who’s only in his mid-20s, is up for Breakthrough Director and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You at the Gotham Awards tonight.
[Photo: “Glory at Sea,” Court 13 Pictures, 2008]