The Best of SXSW 2020: Shorts

Due to concerns surrounding the Coronavirus, the entirety of the SXSW conference and festivals set to take place in Austin, Texas in late March has been canceled. Fortunately, SXSW has partnered with Amazon Prime Video to bring a portion of the shorts and features that were supposed to play at their film festival to the Amazon Prime platform for a limited time (April 27th-May 6th). I watched several of the short films made available, so I’m going to do a sort of rundown. There are some I wasn’t impressed with, so I’d rather talk about the ones that I liked and the ones you should definitely watch while they’re being made available. I usually see the Pixar shorts and a few of the Oscar-nominated shorts as well, but I’ve never been anything of a short film aficionado. Overall, I was very impressed with the field of shorts presented. Keep in mind, all the shorts discussed here are available on Amazon Prime and you don’t need an Amazon Prime subscription to view them.

Watch The Tiniest Murder Scenes Come to Life as Dioramas - Stream ...


Dieorama follows a court-appointed attorney who crafts dieoramas- dioramas with a twisted edge. My favorite aspect of this short was how the short treats this woman’s work with respect. It treats her work not as an off-kilter hobby, but as art that this woman has put her heart and soul into, and by the end of this short, I have a feeling, you will see it the same way.

Staff Pick Award at SXSW 2020: "VERT" by Kate Cox - Vimeo Blog


A short about a couple who try out a VR-like service that captures how your subconscious most wants to appear. This feels in the vein of Ready Player One or Black Mirror but has more to say about the interpersonal implications of this tech, not the global ones. What would cutting-edge technology mean for a middle-aged couple on their anniversary? Vert has a very good sense of atmosphere with the virtual space anchored by this almost otherworldly palpable use of purple. Vert feels intimate, while still exploring heady ideas of identity.

SXSW 2020 Schedule


Basic is a comedically adapt short film that explores the often negative emotions social media brings out in people. One woman’s commentary over another person’s social media profile illustrates what social media can turn people into and the insecurities it fuels. When the thing built to bring us together pushes people apart. It clocks in at just under 3 minutes. It’s fast and loose, but still has something to say about the world we’re living in.

Quilt Fever on Vimeo

Quilt Fever:

Quilt Fever is a delightful deep dive into the world of quilting at a convention in Kentucky that brings together the finest quilters across the country. It’s comprehensive, it’s touching and bound to make you feel the best out of all the shorts mentioned here. 

Lions in the Corner by Paul Hairston | Documentary | Directors Notes

Lions In The Corner:

This short is set in Virginia and follows a man named Scarface, who has set up a space called Streetbeefs where two people settle a disagreement MMA-style. I love how unbiased this short feels, what initially feels quite barbaric shifts to where I wouldn’t hesitate to call Streetbeef’s leader Scarface a hero. He is living proof of what happens when a beef between two people gets out of hand and he has the scars to prove it. He has taken his suffering and done something about it. He’s preventing violence in his community and using his past experiences to make sure no one else suffers that same fate. The camera captures, it doesn’t judge. I can’t wait to see what director Paul Hairston because this is an excellent debut.


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