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Heartfelt Dramas

With winter upon us, what better way to light the fires of creative inspiration than delving into the ASFF library? From disturbing class-driven thrillers to tragi-comic stories of pesky technology to harrowing tales of guilt and sorrow, we’ve found five brilliant dramas to beat the January blues.

Voice Activated | Steve Anthopoulos, 2023

 Aleks Mikic stars as Trent in this touching tale of a florist who must deal with the difficulties of a debilitating stammer. Written and directed by Australian filmmaker Steve Anthopoulos (Nest), the troubled Trent is forced to interact with a voice-activated car – AVIV, the world’s most advanced GPS assistant – as he tries to make an important delivery. Smartly capturing the frustrations of the modern world and what it takes to live with a stutter, this is a joyful work.

The Long Goodbye | Aneil Karia, 2020

The Long Goodbye, which played at ASFF 2021, won both director Aneil Karia and his co-writer/star Riz Ahmed the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. It marked a stunning achievement for a short that deals with racism and the rise of the far right. What begins as a lively family drama swiftly takes a darker tone, as a near-future suburban estate comes under attack from the authorities. Created in conjunction with Ahmed’s own album The Long Goodbye about his break-up from Britain, it’s a sobering and powerful experience. 

Fighter | Bugsy Steel, 2018

Fighter, directed by Bugsy Riverbank-Steel, tells of a Down’s Syndrome teenage boxer (Tommy Jessop) who is about to step in the ring – until forces beyond his control threaten to derail his right to fight. “I want to fight. I want to fight and I want to win – because I’m a fighter,” yells this young man, as he gets in the zone. A film about overcoming ableism, Fighter is a deeply personal story about tackling obstacles – one where you can see the toil, pain and sweat drip on the canvas.  

Bricks | Neville Pierce, 2016

“You people think money can buy you everything – but it can’t buy you knowhow.” So says the bricklayer (Jason Flemyng) at the heart of Neville Piece’s modern re-working of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. Here, Flemyng’s labourer and Blake Ritson’s stockbroker, who is spending £200,000 on a new wine cellar, come to blows in the most disturbing of ways. Elegantly made, the short includes a beautiful score from David Julyan, the composer who worked for Christopher Nolan on his early films, including Memento

Meat | Sunday Emerson Gullifer, 2015

All set in an elite Australian boarding school, Meat stars Sam Delich as Matthews, a pupil who appears to be cruising through life until he gets behind the wheel of a car. It’s a joyride that leads to his life spiralling out of control. Adapted from a monologue written by director Sunday Emerson Gullifer as part of the Australian Theatre for Young People’s National Studio and the Voices Project, it’s an impressively acted piece, with expert editing from Andrew Kristiaman. 

Explore the ASFF Short Film Library.

Words: James Mottram

Still: “This Wild Abyss” dir. Thomas Mendolia