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by Adrian Branzan, Samuele Matteuzzi, Elina Boeva, Katarina Mihelic, Ada Gabor

The Best Independent Dramatic Short Film of the AAIFF category includes films ranging from dark comedy, romance to fantasy and escapism. This category always presents a carefully curated selection of dramatic shorts that not only portray distinctive filmmakers — their vision and their voice — but emotional, powerful storytelling as well.

By immersing itself into the stories of interesting characters trapped inside colourful scenarios, the audience is also given a chance to reflect on reality and see it from a different perspective. This category is always rich in flavour and unstoppable in its force to provoke and capture human emotion.


MAKE LOVE (2022) – Dir. Alex Osmolovsky
Centred around the Israel-Palestine conflict that continues to rage on presently in our society, the story follows two young Palestinian terrorists that are sent on a suicide mission to fulfil their assigned duty. Their original plan begins falling apart when they come across and witness two soldiers from the opposing side, engaging in the physical act of love. 

Osmolovsky talks about how the idea for the film bore fruition and what he hopes to achieve with his vision:
“The creation of the film started when we were sitting with colleagues at the office with other screenwriters and directors, just discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that of course everyone knows in the world, but everyone knows it from some usual perspective. We were talking about these underground tunnels that the Palestinians use for digging, unfortunately because of the situation there, and we said ‘they always dig these underground tunnels expecting to see soldiers from the other side; what would happen if at the end of the tunnel, they will just see young people- the same as they are, almost teenagers, but they are soldiers but naked and just making love without any thoughts of the war’. I hope and believe that a moment like that can change everything, because in the end, from both sides, its young people- and the main ideal of the film is that you will not burn as a terrorist or as a soldier- you just burn as a human being. All the things you learn at school, all the propaganda, all of that changes you, but in the end, we are young people who want to live, love and enjoy. That is something that stops our characters, and completely brings them to shock in a way they don’t know what to do…. they totally forget that they came to fight, struggle, to kill- they forget about that and act like teenagers when seeing naked bodies.

OUT OF THE ABYSS (2022) – Dir. Guang Wei Yan

The protagonist of the film is a “Beijing drifter”, over 30 years old. He is not successful, nor competitive, but he is content, down-to-earth and struggles on his own. Experiencing so many difficulties in life, he finally becomes violent and takes the wrong road.

In the Q&A, Guang Wei Yan says: “This film comes from one of my feelings: I’ll create this feeling to show all the predicaments to the audience. This is my opportunity.”

MEDEA (2022) – Dir. FeiFei Zhong

A young woman’s promising artistic career is in jeopardy as she discovers she’s pregnant and struggles in deciding what to prioritise in her life.

FeiFei Zhong wanted her film to focus on portraying the struggles and burdens women continuously face in today’s society:

Basically, I wanted to have an idea revolving around the difficult conditions females may face in their daily lives. Society now has so many responsibilities for females. We are wives, mothers, daughters, and still, we have so many other things to think of. So that is why I wanted to make this short film, to describe the shackles female dance in- to show how it’s really not quite easy for us to deal with the ‘daily’ life”.

HIBERNATE (2022) –Dir. Houssam Hassan Hamo

A poor Syrian child with a passion for music sees a young woman playing the accordion. He chases after her trying to enter a musical institution, where he can finally fulfil his dream of being an accordionist.

LUCKY (2022) –Dir. Yin Ze

A financially unlucky man gambles in the hopes of winning. In his desperation, he even goes to extreme measures which do not end in his favour. The story is based on a real-life incident in a small town in southern China.

THE HEART SUTRA (2022) – Dir. Shi Yi

A fantasy like tale in which a middle-aged painter walks a path that confronts him to do some soul searching, as he heads to his friends feast for fathering a baby.

Shi Yi discusses the hurdles she went through and how it challenged her creatively when making the film:

I had to overcome a lot of difficulties in order to better express the core spirit of my script, and then to achieve the some of the images I wanted to express in the film. Let’s say there’s a shot of the burning scripture, because I don’t have a macro lens, I can’t put the burning scripture on top of the burnt paper, I can’t have a macro lens to express it, so how should I go about it? I came up with the solution, that is, I should enlarge the word. Then I wrote this word as a large word, and then I used our close-up lens to shoot it again, so as to make an expression for something like this, I did a lot of new attempts to overcome the whole difficulty of shooting”.

JOPEL (2022) – Dir. Clifton Abuan

Jopel is a less fortunate kid from the streets of Manila , who wanted to make his mom happy by buying her a birthday cake. He did not have any money but was fortunate to have the heart & talent to overcome it all.