I flew to Austin, Texas this year for the 20th annual SXSW Film Festival to party hardy and watch short movies. I'm pretty excited now that the jury winners have have been announced. Unfortunately, most of the winners movies aren’t online yet, since they’re still making the festival rounds. So most of the films I’ve culled below are past winners from the Lonestar State’s biggest Festival. The selection here is unabashedly weird—pushing both visual and intellectual boundaries—but those are the kinds of films SXSW champions and they're really all that should matter, anyway.
Eager by Allison Schulnik: 2014 Animation Special Jury Award Winner
Allison’s forth animated short film finds her playing with ideas of transformation, creepiness, and twisted beauty. It may very well be her best film to date. Bleeding flowers, disfigured horses, and parasitic creatures consume and expel each other in a weird and dark dance. Poetic and haunting, this film will fuck you up if you down some drugs beforehand.
The Apocalypse by Andrew Zuchero: 2013 Midnight Short Film Award Winner
When you’re sitting around with your buddies trying to come up with an idea for something to do, watch this film and don’t do what they do because it has some dire consequences. This killer black comedy premiered at Sundance and went on slaying at SXSW.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling: 2012 Midnight Short Film Award Winner
At this point, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared has cemented itself as the anti-Muppets/Sesame Street puppet educational songsters in the most bizarre and endearing way. No idea, animation style, or boundary is sacred in the path to explore creativity. Becky and Joe premiered their second installment of the series, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: Time, at this year’s SXSW and it may just be better than the first.
(Notes on) Biology by Ornana Films: 2012 Animated Short Film Award Winner
A pretty simple premise of a boy strolling into biology class late, taking a seat, starting notes, and getting distracted by doodles. Shot entirely in stop-motion with students fussing about and an animated science notebook full of gun-slinging robot elephants, the energy and playfulness are what this short’s about.
The Wonder Hospital by Beomsik Shimbe Shim: 2011 Animated Short Film Award Winner
Ideal beauty is a pretty difficult task to confront and traverse in 12 short minutes, but this fantastically warped exploration of a person’s path to discover their “after” image gets at something deep. At times it's nearly impenetrable with its highly stylized animation and confusing narrative progression. But the film finds its footing when it lands in a fever dream atmosphere of fear and desire.
The Eagleman Stag by Mikey Please: 2011 Wholphin Award Winner
This is hands down one of 2011s best short films. In The Eagleman Stag, filmmaker Mikey Please combined stunning black and white stop-motion animation with high-minded ideas to tell the story of the quickening death of a man. It’s cerebral. It’s surreal. It’s scary. It’s truth. Pretty heady stuff and he’s back this year at SXSW with his new short animation, Marilyn Myller.
Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at Tribeca Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Hamptons International Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.