Though France is a country famous for its robust film culture, international attention for the region rarely extends beyond the obvious Oscar contenders and feature-length festival favourites, leaving the nation’s rich body of compelling and original contemporary short films sadly overlooked.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the best French shorts we have to offer, all of which are available to watch right here, right now, without leaving your couch.
1. Past Tense (dir. Ted Hardy-Carnac)
A dramatic and concise depiction of an old man stuck in the remnants of his past, unable to let go. Centred on a commanding performance from Laurent Claret, this film has everything from a skin-tingling soundtrack to exquisite cinematography, all within the course of a single extended take. If you’re looking for a riveting 3-minute film to watch on your way home, this is it.
2. The House in the Water (dir. Jingyang Sun)
From director Jingyang Sun comes a deep, emotionally complex character drama. Carl, a charming writer without inspiration, becomes a literature teacher in high school and yet, the tired man secretly desires a change in his life. Enter Laila, a student from another class who embarks on an inner adventure when she comes across Carl and realises that he’s the writer that she’s been looking for all this time.
3. Noée in the Storm (dir. Mathilde Chavanne)
The story of a fifteen-year-old girl whose strong and ardent demeanour hides a fragile and clueless soul that absorbs everything without shedding a tear. One day, she crosses paths with Oscar, who has the eyes and colour of a survivor. Without even knowing it, they begin turning each others’ lives around. Featuring a lead turn from Lilith Grasmug that will give you chills.
4. Montmartre Kiss (dir. Jimmy Laporal-Trésor)
Romance, action, drama – packed with a little bit of everything, Montmartre Kiss follows the story of Il, a young man who has been in love with his friend Elle since he was a teenager. One night, he decides to take things further and makes a plan to seduce Elle, but his plans are jeopardised when a couple of gangsters intervene. All the thrill and the excitement makes this one a perfect watch on a cold, rainy night.
5. The Green Dogs (dir. Mathias Rifkiss and Colas Rifkiss)
It doesn’t get much better than this quintessentially French short starring Pascal Demolon and Philippe Duquesne. Oswaldo and Babass, two fifty-year-old workers keen on football, are threatened by the relocation of their factory in Romania. They instigate a match against the young managers of the company and soon they resume training with their mythic crew from the ’80s, The Green Dogs. Both men, however, are not the young champions they used to be, and the stakes are raised when Oswaldo bets their professional future on the result of the match. The results are as motivating and inspirational as you’d hope.
6. White Sun (dir. Scott Noblet)
A heartwarming coming of age film about Abdel, a sixteen-year-old who spends his summer vacation looking after his gravely ill mother. One day, Abdel comes across a rumour that Hakim, his older brother, whom he hasn’t seen for years, is supposedly hiding somewhere in the vicinity. By delving into the psychology and deep-rooted conflicts of its characters, this film feels like comfort.
7. Perseverance (dir. Gabin Tellenne)
Dimitri is a fish captain in Trouville-sur-Mer, Normandy. Accompanied by his deckhands, Joris and Omar, embarked on a trawler, they track fishes. Far from their families from Monday to Friday, in the harshness of the job, they face the whims of the sea. An immersive and insightful documentary that finds profundity amidst the daily grind aboard “La Persévérance”.
8. Eve (dir. Boulomsouk Svadphaiphane)
This spine-chilling psychological thriller follows the story of a young girl who wakes up in a cellar out of nowhere, hidden away from the rest of the world. Not able to remember or figure out what she has done to be locked up, she decides to make her escape.
9. Near Future (dir. Ted Hardy-Carnac)
Between love and tragedy, even one glimpse back can make a difference. Living up to its enticing title, Near Future is an artful, engaging, and thought-provoking work anchored by strong performances from Adeline Adelski and director Ted Hardy-Carnac.
10. Mars (dir. Angela Terrail)
The disturbing yet gripping Mars follows a young soldier, Oleg, who is lost in the middle of the desert and alone save for a leopard companion. We don’t want to give too much away on this one, but it is not for the fainthearted.