Our Five Choice Indie Shorts of 2023

It’s been an interesting year and we’ve manage to cover a few of the usual film festivals and found some favorites along the way. We were thankfully able to compensate for last year by really digging our heels in to the indie movies and festivals, and we’ve combed over some really talented directors, and writers.

These are five of the best short films we saw in 2023.

It’s Not About Fear (2023)
Directed by: Clément Jochem
Written By: Clément Jochem
Director Clément Jochem’s short horror film pretty much wears its themes on its sleeve, but that doesn’t make it any less scary or terrifying. James is having Lena over for a dinner date and is constantly stalked by the specter of an older woman. Before long he realizes the experience might not be his own. “It’s Not About Fear” is a grim but hopeful message about the long lasting effects that rape and/or sexual crimes can have on victims. Though the predators may not be around, their horrifying specter will linger with the victims forever, and it’s a continuous struggle to find a reason to move forward, and to sadly live with what they’ve inflicted. Director Clément Jochem approaches these themes with immense maturity and scathing symbolism that I loved. 

Jenna Has to Live (2023)
Directed by: Katie Hopkins
Written By: Katie Hopkins
We’re living in an age where the healthcare system is letting American citizens down, prompting those that can’t afford life saving medication like Insulin. In Katie Hopkins’ stark, sad drama, she puts her lens not only to a small scale narrative but on an issue that concerns pretty much all of us living hand to mouth. Director-writer Hopkins focuses on an impoverished young Jenna, a type 1 diabetic who has to sell some of her insulin in order to financially survive. This causes her to ration her insulin and put herself at risk time and time again. “Jenna Has to Live” is a sad albeit all too relevant commentary on how the government has failed us. In a wealthy country many lower class individuals have to risk their lives day to day in order to survive just one more day.

Leaving Yellowstone (2023)
Directed by: Kayla Arend
Written By: Kayla Arend, Trent Olsen
Director Kayla Arend’s short thriller is a film teeming with potential for a feature down the road. Executive Produced by Spike Lee, “Leaving Yellowstone” is a taut, eerie, and bizarre thriller about a young couple visiting Yellowstone National Park for a romantic getaway. While there, Tessa gets a different view of her boyfriend Mark during a moment of intimacy. Before long she makes a horrifying discovery that prompts a battle for survival and a game of cat and mouse. “Leaving Yellowstone” had me from minute one with its great concept, excellent symbolism, a pair of top notch performances, and genuinely gut punch plot twists that kept me tense from beginning to end. I can’t wait to see what Kayla Arend brings us down the road.

Nina & Irena (2023)
Directed by: Daniel Lombroso
The human race is… maybe it’s time for it to disappear…” is probably one of the heaviest bits of insight you’ll ever hear. It’s a bit of insight from someone who lived through, endured, and survived the holocaust and watched everyone and everything she knew be decimated in the blink of an eye. After contemplating the death of sister at age 90, Irena finds herself at a crossroads in a world that hasn’t grown or learned from the horrors of the holocaust. In spite of it, Daniel Lombroso sits down for a frank conversation with his grandmother, learning about the horrors she’d witnessed, and the bits and pieces that stuck with her. Whether it’s the recollection concentration camps, or her sheer disgust at the mere remembrance of the smell of burning flesh, “Nina & Irena” is a powerful and gut wrenching peek in to the darker sides of history and humanity. 

Versace Softboi (2023)
Directed by: Charlie Gillette, Sarah Metcalf
Written By: Charlie Gillette
In modern society even online dating can be incredibly dangerous for a young woman, as depicted in Charlie Gillette’s short suspense film. Apparently based on a true story, Gillette plays Alex, a young girl who realizes that the guy she’s been talking to on Tinder is sitting outside of her apartment. Although he doesn’t seem to pose an immediate threat to her and her friends, she feels especially spooked by his inherent presence and sheer boldness in staking out her apartment. Is he stalking her? Is he waiting to pounce on her and her friends? Or is it just one big coincidence? In either case, “Versace Softboi” ends on a particularly ambiguous note that keeps us unsure as to where it’s all going to go. All we really know is that a woman can never be too cautious.

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