Broader IX: Five Short Films About Women, by Women

By Grace Rogers, Highlighter Staff Columnist

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Still from “Making Space,” dir. Petra Collins

Short films: they’re small, but mighty. Much like literature’s genre of memoir, short films pack a lot into a mere snippet of life. Through one story, relationship or event, critical commentary and nuanced narratives are made in a matter of minutes: as you’ll soon see, an entire adolescence can be represented in the acceptance of a training bra.

But finding shorts on the interwebs about women, by women is no easy task. Just spend a couple of minutes scrolling through big dog websites, like Short of the Week, and you’ll see pages upon pages of shorts made by male directors. Even most of the female-protagonist-overcomes-struggle narratives are headed by men, a truly ironic nod to the abysmal representation in the film industry.

Luckily, I’ve done some searching for you — here are five short films about women, by women.

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I Feel Stupid

Directed by Milena Pastreich and written by Ana Lily Amirpour, “I Feel Stupid” follows Lein, an awkward 15-year-old girl who resists the romance, makeup and cigarettes involved in growing up. Finding it all to be “stupid,” she’d rather just hang out with her pet pigeons. But once she’s influenced by the return of her old friend, Amber, Lein confronts what’s worth clinging onto and what’s better left behind.

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Seashells

Written and directed by Natalie Neal, “Seashells” tells the story of a fourth-grade girl, Valentina, and her new training bra. Jolted by the quick onset of womanhood, Valentina doesn’t accept her soon-to-be-boobs easily: after crying in her bed, she stares at herself in the mirror with a foreign fascination. Thankfully, with the help of the Spice Girls and Barbie, she comes to terms with growing up and accepts the inevitable uncertainty that comes with it.

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A Million Miles Away

Written and directed by Jennifer Reeder, “A Million Miles Away” illustrates the power of mutual support through a female chorus teacher and her all-girls choir. Troubled by the fear of failing her students and her love life, she comes to class in pieces, only to find her students picking them back up again. With the help of her teenage students, she comes-of-age all over again.

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Making Space

Made by Petra Collins and her closest squad, “Making Space” documents the importance of dance for young girls in the South. Touching on themes such as body image, gender roles and the comfort of internet communities, the three-part series is a gorgeous illustration of girls helping girls and an intimate look at the healing powers of dance.

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Blue Girls Burn Fast

Created by activist, actress and future NYU student Amandla Stenberg, “Blue Girls Burn Fast” follows Andy, a woke teenager coming to terms with her foster mom, her love interests and her emotions. It’s a coming-of-age tale, cliché but #relatable nonetheless, with clear bits of Amandla in it (see: the appropriation of black hairstyles). Sprinkled with phrases like “Mac-DeMarco-fuck-boy,” it’s a tale many teenage girls can see themselves experiencing.

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