Movies to watch now. The PBS Short Film Festival | THIRTEEN

Christina Knight | July 11, 2022

With so many choices and streaming platforms, it’s hard to get motivated for a streaming recommendation that comes with the caveat “it gets better after the first two episodes.” And when you have a moment to relax, who has the patience to browse through a paid app or its features? If you fancy a good movie in an increasingly serialized world, the PBS Short Film Festival is the answer. Starting at midnight Monday, July 11, audiences nationwide don’t need to subscribe, purchase, or RSVP to watch nearly 30 great short films, on demand. The free festival celebrates its 11th anniversary.

Many documentaries are crafted with the dramatic arc of a drama and their emotional impact is even more intense to be true. Some are dramas based on real events. The independent filmmakers at this online festival are not tied to a commercial system or the needs of a major studio or distributor. Directors, producers, and writers are a diverse bunch, telling the stories of people who don’t make up the largest potential demographic of viewers. Great characters and good storytelling are the common denominators. The slogan of the festival is “”Stories that stick”.

Each year, the films have used creative and unexpected ways to tell stories of race, social injustice, religion, addiction, environment, government policies and love.

Scene from Chilly and Milly, a 2022 PBS Short Film Festival film.

Have you ever watched a movie and immediately looked up the filmmaker to find out what other movies he’s made? This happened after watching my top pick, Chilly and Milly, one of 27 films at the PBS Short Film Festival (more, if you dive into the 2021 and 2020 films). The video vignette of an everyday superwoman looking worriedly at a tired man drew me in. In nine minutes, the short film about family love, illness and caring made me want to be the best person I could be. Director William D. Caballero combines 3D animation and documentary footage of his parents, Puerto Rican Americans who left New York with their son in search of a better life in North Carolina. But Caballero’s father’s failing kidney traveled with them. Chilly and Milly (2021) was also part of this year Sundance Shorts, where only 59 of the 10,374 short films submitted were selected. Caballero, NYU graduate and Guggenheim Fellow, aims to make films that “empower, enlighten and express”; his works have appeared on HBO and the PBS series Cropped America.

What is the PBS Short Film Festival?

The PBS Short Film Festival is entirely online. You can stream on or through the PBS video app, or here on Thirteen, the NYC metro PBS station website, or on our streaming app, THIRTEEN Explore. The festival is also broadcast on the PBS YouTube channel and Facebook PBS.

You can find more information about the films and the filmmakers on Behind the Lens, the PBS Short Film Festival Blog with articles and interviews.

PBS Short Film Festival films have been selected and provided by 16 public media partners and PBS member stations. This year’s lineup includes films from black public media, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Independent Television Service (ITVS), Latin Public Broadcasting, Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), Point of view, South Coil, Vision Maker Media and Global Channelas well as local PBS member stations, Alabama Public Television (APTV), KLRU-TV Austin PBS, Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB), MPT Digital Studios, WKAR (Michigan State University), WMHT (New York) and WSIU (Illinois).