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Pick of the week: Is the golden age of short films upon us?

We’re living in a golden age of short films – or at least we should be. Whatever device you’re using to read this article constitutes a node in the greatest distribution network for electronic media ever imagined or devised, one that theoretically reaches most people on the planet. As anybody who’s ever filled an idle minute with a YouTube video of someone else’s cat knows, a widely shared clip can pile up hundreds of thousands of views literally overnight. But unlimited access to an overwhelming torrent of unedited and unfiltered images is one thing, and careful, artful curation is quite another.

There’s a reason why short-film programs at film festivals are usually packed, and the annual showcase for Oscar-nominated shorts has become ever more popular, even in a world where all of us could spend our remaining lifetimes, several times over, watching allegedly entertaining Internet videos at no cost. (At no financial cost, that is; I do not speak of the cost to your soul or your sanity.) As unreliable as the Academy Awards may be at every possible level, it’s a relief to encounter the 2013 Oscar-nominated shorts and reflect that a group of people who know quite a bit about the art and craft of filmmaking has decided that these are good examples.

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