The Best Belgian Short Films To Watch This Year

Oh Willy...
Oh Willy...
Photo of Ayla Sileghem
5 January 2017

Not only is Belgium the home of great comic books and delicious chocolates, but the various short films it produces are works of art. Nominated, awarded, or just greatly appreciated, Culture Trip presents ten gems that are all pinnacles of Belgian entertainment.

Death of a Shadow/Dood van een Shaduw (2012)

Starring the very popular Matthias Schoenaerts and directed by Tom Van Avermaet, this film effortlessly plays with morbid themes. Schoenaerts plays a soldier who died during the First World War. Using a steampunk camera, he literally captures the shadows of other people in the moment they die. If he can gather 10,000 shadows, he’ll get a chance to live again. This film was nominated for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

Oh Willy… (2012)

Using only woolly fabric, this stop-motion looks like you could reach out and touch the soft décor. But the fluffiness stands in contrast to the story about death and grief. Willy returns to the nudist community he grew up in, to visit his dying mother. After she passes away, he travels through the woods alone to find himself. The most impressive part about this film is the technique. Directors Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels bring life to stiff handmade puppets and put emotion in their little glass eyes.

Gridlock/Faits d’Hiver (2001)

In director Dirk Beliën‘s dark-humored short film, an impatient manager gets stuck in traffic on his way home. He uses his brand new cell phone to call his wife, only to speak with his daughter, who has some disturbing news for him.

Junkyard (2012)

This beautiful Dutch-Belgian animated short, directed by Hisko Hulsing, tells an unsettling story: the protagonist is robbed and stabbed by a junkie. In the last moments before his death, he remembers the close friendship he had when he was younger, only to drift apart after his friend got involved with a life of drugs and criminality.

La Nuit de l’Ours/The Night of the Bear (2012)

In only seven minutes, this short tells the story of a woman who lives on a deserted island. The perfect harmony she maintains with the island and the animals is disrupted when she finds a wounded hunter and decides to take care of him.

Tanghi Argentini (2006)

Guy Thys‘s short film from 2006 tells the story of a bored office clerk who is fascinated with tango. He enlists the help of a colleague to teach him the tango so he can impress his internet date. It was nominated for Best Short Film at the 80th Annual Academy Awards.

Flatlife (2004)

In this animation, four people live in an apartment building, and no matter what they do, they can’t help but annoy their neighbors. This short film received a Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, even though it wasn’t finished and the first minute was broadcast without sound. Filmmaker Jonas Geirnaert spent two years on this project and drew all the images by hand. The entire animation is available on YouTube.

Perdition County (2014)

This project made by film students takes you to a fictional wasteland. Desmond belongs with a group of pilgrims who collect human skulls. When he stumbles upon two children, he’s determined to save them.

Beauty and the Beat/ Je sens le beat qui monte en moi (2012)

A tourist guide named Rosalba has a strange illness that causes her to dance whenever she hears music. Alain drives the tourist office’s minivan. Each is attracted to the other, but neither will admit it. This light-hearted French-Belgian comedy was directed by Yann Le Quellec and was nominated at the Lutins du Court-Métrage in 2013.

Mumbler/Mompelaar (2007)

In this dark, surreal film directed by Marc Roels and Wim Reygaert, a man with a speech impediment finds himself at a murder scene. What happens next is both baffling and horrific.

Bad Hunter (2013)

Sahim Omar Kalifa‘s short is not set in Belgium, but in rural Kurdistan. When the hunter Bahoz returns home, he catches a man trying to rape a young woman. After scaring the rapist away, he mends her clothes so she can keep this a secret from her family, but the family soon shows up at Bahoz’s doorstep.

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