34 Best Short Movies on Netflix (April 2024)

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Netflix has acquired and put up almost every format related to films and TV shows for the audience. So it’s a matter of little surprise that they have a robust collection of short films, which are considerably shorter than usual feature-length movies and documentaries. So, if you are in the mood to watch something quick and amazing, these films will serve your needs.

34. Canvas (2020)

Telling you the plot of a 9-minute long short film is to ruin its purpose. So all that we can say about this beautiful, sweet, and heartwarming Frank E. Abney III directorial is that it is about a grieving grandfather whose pain has cost him his passion for painting until it is reignited. How? Well, love comes in various shapes and sizes. To understand what we mean, you can play ‘Canvas’ here.

33. The After (2023)

‘The After’ follows Dayo (David Oyelowo), who drives a taxi in London. While to the regular eye, he is just another driver earning a living, Dayo took up the job to try to come out of a singularly horrific trauma. As he tries to be a part of the lives of other people with the hope of getting away from his own, he ends up confronting a face that is very familiar and one that makes him confront his traumatic past. Can it be his salvation? ‘The After’ is an Oscar-nominated short film directed by Misan Harriman. You can watch it here.

32. One Last Shot (1998)

From Gemini Award winner Mike Clattenburg comes a short film that is a prequel to the “Trailer Park Boys” series. It shows two guys, Rob (Robb Wells) and Gary (John Paul Tremblay), who are best friends, and follows them as they spend a night out drinking booze before Rob moves to Vancouver to start a business. But there is a secret lingering in the dark that can either make it or break it for both of them. What is it? To find out, you can watch the film here.

31. What Did Jack Do? (2017)

This documentary-short written and directed by the great David Lynch showcases a monkey named Jack who is being interrogated by a detective (played by Lynch) for allegedly committing a murder. Will he confess to the crime? To find out, you can watch this unsettling, gritty black-and-white film right here.

30. The Elephant Whisperers (2022)

‘The Elephant Whisperers’ is a documentary film directed by Kartiki Gonsalves. Set amidst the scenic Mudumalai National Park, the film intricately explores the profound bond between an indigenous couple, Bomman and Bellie, and an orphaned baby elephant named Raghu. As the narrative unfolds, the audience witnesses the challenges and commitment of the couple as they strive to nurse the fragile Raghu back to health.

This poignant documentary doesn’t merely capture the essence of human-animal relationships but also brings to the forefront the rich tapestry of Indian culture and its long-standing tradition of environmental conservation. With an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film under its belt, the film brilliantly touches on themes of love, sacrifice, and co-existence, rightfully earning its place on this list. You can watch it here.

29. Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2022)

Directed by Ashley Eakin, this powerful short is set in 1939 Germany, wherein we meet young Peter (Knox Gibson), who has an amputated right limb. Adolf Hitler has ordered the elimination of the physically unfit, something that Paul is unable to make any sense of. He asks his mother, Eva (Hanneke Talbot), about it, as well. But when Nazi soldiers arrive at their doorstep, and his mother sends him to hide at a secret spot, young Paul makes a decision that will change his life forever. To find out what that is, you can watch ‘Forgive Us Our Trespasses’ here.

28. Two Distant Strangers (2020)

‘Two Distant Strangers’ is a short sci-fi drama film written by Travon Free and directed by Martin Desmond Roe and Travon Free. In a haunting portrayal of déjà vu, the film thrusts viewers into the harrowing world of Carter James, a cartoonist caught in an unending time loop. Each day, his journey home to his beloved dog culminates in a fatal confrontation with Officer Merk, forcing him to repeatedly relive the same dreadful day.

Featuring Joey Bada$$, Andrew Howard, and Zaria Simone in pivotal roles, the film serves as a grim reminder of the recurring tragic deaths of Black Americans during police encounters. The narrative, which spirals between moments of hope and despair, culminates in a powerful climax that lists names of Black Americans who have tragically lost their lives. Bagging the Best Live Action Short Film award at the 93rd Academy Awards, the film poignantly addresses systemic racism and police brutality, cementing its position on the list. You may watch it here.

27. If Anything Happens, I Love You (2020)

‘If Anything Happens, I Love You’ is an animated drama film directed by Will McCormack and Michael Govier. In a hauntingly silent space, two parents navigate the cavernous depth of their grief after the heart-wrenching loss of their daughter in a school shooting. The animated film delicately illustrates their journey, painting a raw and poignant portrait of mourning, regret, and the painful journey to acceptance.

Its minimalist black-and-white animation only deepens the emotional impact, focusing on the parents’ internal turmoil and the ghosts of their memories. Awarded at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film, it resonates powerfully with its audience, underscoring the harrowing reality many families face in today’s world. This film dives deep into the complexities of human emotion and the profound effect of loss, making it a deserving entry on this list. Feel free to check out the movie here.

26. Anima (2019)

‘Anima’ is a short musical film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Born from the genius of Thom Yorke, Anima isn’t just a film; it’s an otherworldly experience. Accompanying Yorke’s third studio album, this visual extravaganza intertwines mesmerizing choreography and dystopian themes. Yorke’s character, amidst a sea of uniformed passengers, seeks a connection with a woman, played by Dajana Roncione. Their ethereal dance sequences set against surreal backdrops evoke feelings of longing, alienation, and fleeting moments of connection. With influences ranging from dystopian classics like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Metropolis to the comedic charm of Charlie Chaplin, it’s a cerebral journey through an evocative soundscape. The film’s nomination for the Grammy for Best Music Film is a testament to its innovative blend of music and visual storytelling. You can check out the film here.

25. Maradona’s Legs (2019)

‘Maradona’s Legs’ is a short adventure drama film directed by Firas Khoury. The 1990 World Cup forms the backdrop for a quest led by two young Palestinian boys. With eyes set on an Atari, their mission is simple yet challenging: find the sticker showcasing Maradona’s legs to complete their World Cup album. Their spirited journey takes them to Nazareth, as they navigate the streets with infectious enthusiasm and determination. While many children’s narratives are often animated, ‘Maradona’s Legs’ carves a niche with its live-action portrayal, immersing viewers in a whimsical tale rooted in childhood dreams and aspirations. The film serves as a reminder of simpler times and the lengths one would go to for seemingly small victories. Through its youthful lens, the film captures the essence of ambition and the innocence of childhood, making it an endearing addition to the list. You can watch ‘Maradona’s Legs’ here.

24. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023)

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar‘ is an adventure comedy film directed by Wes Anderson. This film is based on Roald Dahl’s short story of the same name and is the first of Wes Anderson’s four-part series of short films adapted from Roald Dahl’s work. The plot follows Henry Sugar, a wealthy bachelor who fuels his gambling tendencies using his inherited wealth. An unusual discovery of a book detailing Imdad Khan, a man with a unique ability to see without his eyes, changes his life. Upon learning about Imdad’s technique, Henry dedicates three years to mastering the skill. He uses this newfound talent at a casino, only to realize the ethical implications of his actions.

Wes Anderson’s whimsical filmmaking style juxtaposed with Dahl’s magical realism crafts a mesmerizing visual experience. Bringing together a compelling narrative and a powerful ensemble cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, and Richard Ayoade, the film not only highlights the transformative power of discovery and self-realization but also serves as a testament to the potential of short films in captivating audiences. You may watch it here.

23. The Swan (2023)

This short thriller is the second film in Wes Anderson’s four-part short film series adapted from Roald Dahl’s work. The film, narrated by Rupert Friend, introduces us to Peter Watson – an intelligent boy with an innate affinity for birds. His life takes a sinister turn when he is pursued by two remorseless bullies, with Ernie leading the cruelty. The film features Ralph Fiennes and Asa Jennings in prominent roles.

Diverging from his quintessential style, Wes Anderson delves deep into the emotional landscapes of trauma, resilience, and the human spirit’s indomitable will to rise above adversity. The haunting narrative, minimalist cast, and dedicated adherence to Dahl’s original masterpiece are a testament to Anderson’s unparalleled storytelling prowess. ‘The Swan‘ stands as a cinematic marvel, compacting a spectrum of emotions into a tight 17-minute frame, evoking deeper feelings than many full-length features. You may watch ‘The Swan’ here.

22. The Rat Catcher (2023)

The third film in Wes Anderson’s four-part, Roald Dahl adapted short film series, ‘The Rat Catcher,’ reaffirms the director’s narrative prowess in a mere 17 minutes. Tapping into universal human fears, the film offers a unique perspective on the creatures society often disregards or fears. The role of Ralph Fiennes as the enigmatic “Rat Catcher” serves as an embodiment of this narrative, merging horror and sympathy in equal measure. Anderson’s choice to incorporate animation amplifies the surreal atmosphere, taking audiences on an unexpected emotional journey.

The star-studded cast, including Richard Ayoade and Rupert Friend, accentuates the depth of Dahl’s storytelling, while Anderson’s signature visual flair ensures a compelling watch. Robert Yeoman’s cinematography seamlessly weaves together the film’s dark undertones with its whimsical charm. The film, both heart-rending and thought-provoking, pays a fitting tribute to the essence of Dahl’s storytelling, highlighting the blurred lines between the humane and monstrous. This short film stands as a testament to Wes Anderson’s ability to adapt and reinvent while staying true to Roald Dahl’s iconic storytelling. This dark, twisty journey leaves viewers both haunted and enlightened, reflecting on the true nature of monsters and the society that creates them. You, too, can be a part of the experience here.

21. Poison (2023)

Wes Anderson concludes his Roald Dahl series with ‘Poison,’ a riveting exploration of fear, perception, and human frailty. Set in a colonial-era bungalow in India, the story takes a suspenseful turn as Timber and Dr. Ganderbai race against time. In his portrayal of Harry, Benedict Cumberbatch offers a masterclass in restrained panic, emphasizing the tangible weight of the looming threat. The chemistry between Dev Patel’s Timber and Ben Kingsley’s Dr. Ganderbai accentuates the palpable tension that Anderson so masterfully crafts.

Anderson’s ability to maintain an almost claustrophobic intensity in a short timeframe is commendable, ensuring that viewers remain on edge until the film’s revelatory climax. The realization of a non-existent threat is a powerful metaphor for the often irrational fears that plague humanity, a commentary on the psychological torment one can experience based on mere perception. Anderson’s nuanced representation of colonial-era India, oscillating between the mystical and the fearful, adds layers of complexity to the narrative. As the final installment in Anderson’s Dahl series, it leaves an indelible mark, urging viewers to reflect upon the phantoms of their own making and the very nature of fear itself. You can stream the short here.

20. All in My Family (2019)

Created, written, and directed by Hao Wu, the story is a personal account of his family’s acceptance of his same-sex marriage and children of his own. Hao Wu is a filmmaker of Chinese origin, and his family is a traditional one; the process of opening up to them regarding his life in America was not easy. This 40-minute short film throws light on this particular journey of his. When long-standing traditions are challenged, it is not easy to break away from that context as it shapes our thinking. From that first hit of reality to finally rationalizing and acknowledging change, it is a long and not-so-easy route. This personal and honest journey of Hao Wu takes us through all those phases as he introduces his family from America, complete with kids, to his traditional Chinese one. You can watch the movie here.

19. The Claudia Kishi Club (2020)

Claudia Kishi is a fictional character in the ’80s book series ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ written by Ann M. Martin. Claudia Kishi could be seen as one of the earliest representations of a character of Asian origin in popular culture. At that time, not many such characters were seen as free of their stereotypes. Many girls from Eastern cultures could relate to her character and have been inspired to see themselves in a new light. This documentary talks to many people who grew up reading the ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ books and how the character, Claudia Kishi, impacted their lives. You may watch the film here.

18. ReMastered: Who Shot the Sheriff? (2018)

ReMastered is an original Netflix documentary series that brings to us the defining moments of a musician’s life. This particular episode is based on Bob Marley, a pioneer of reggae and one of the best-selling musicians of all time. The documentary specifically looks at the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976. He was caught amid the feud between Edward Seaga’s conservative Jamaica Labour Party and Micheal Manley’s social-democratic People’s National Party. This documentary highlights the possible involvement of Seaga and the CIA in the attempt to assassinate Bob Marley, who survived the attack with minor wounds to the arm and chest. Feel free to check out the film here.

17. Ram Dass, Going Home (2018)

In the documentary by Derek Peck, we meet Baba Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher, near the end of his life. A peaceful and patient journey of a graceful and poised man coming to terms with his own eventuality makes this documentary worth watching. Peck does not portray his subject as larger than life but delicately shows Ram Dass in a loving and respectful light. The short film focuses on his life at home in Maui, where he stayed after suffering from a stroke twenty years before that. Ram Dass talks about the importance of love and deepens his spiritual practice in his last years. You can watch ‘Ram Dass, Going Home’ here.

16. ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads (2019)

Probably the most enigmatic and mysterious member of the 27 Club, Robert Johnson became one of the most prominent influences on generations of musicians. The blues musician becomes the heart of speculation given his out-worldly talent that people believed that he may have sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents. In his brief life of 27 years, he wrote only 29 songs and became one of the best guitarists of his time; he defined the subsequent genres of music. This documentary hopes to bring more clarity around Johnson as a person and his musical journey. You may watch it here.

15. What Would Sophia Loren Do? (2021)

Directed by Ross Kauffman, ‘What Would Sophia Loren Do?’ is a short documentary film. The movie primarily focuses on the life of an Italian-American mother and grandmother who is a lifelong fan of actress Sophia Loren and has found strength and joy in her work. The documentary lays bare the surprising impact that celebrities often end up having on their fans, living thousands of miles without ever personally getting to know them or their circumstances. You may watch ‘What Would Sophia Loren Do?’ here.

14. Lorena, Light-Footed Woman (2019)

Originally in Spanish, this Mexican documentary directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo is about the long-distance runner Lorena Ramirez. Belonging to the Raramuri community from the Chihuahua region of Mexico, Lorena owns with grace what her people are known for, long-distance running. “Raramuri” means “light-footed,” and that is what the community prides itself in. What is astonishing about Lorena is her almost superhuman ability to run extraordinarily long marathons, even as long as 100 km, that too in her traditional garb of a floral skirt and sandals. The approximately half an hour-long documentary is an engaging account of a female athlete who stays true to her roots as well as the indigenous community that she hails from. You can stream the film here.

13. The Trader (2018)

What if you stumble upon a region where potatoes are the only currency? What if money isn’t as valuable as potatoes? This may sound funny, but this Sundance jury award for nonfiction winner is anything but funny. It tells the struggle of Georgia, a Republic strangled in poverty and hopelessness. The people are suffering from hunger, lack of jobs, and enough currency to sustain their lives, and they seem to have no solution ahead of the tunnel. This gut-wrenching story is both long and short enough to leave you in a deep abyss of hollowness for some time. You can stream ‘The Trader’ here.

12. ReMastered: Tricky Dick & the Man in Black (2018)

This short film captures the dynamics between American President Richard Nixon and Johnny Cash, the country music sensation during one of the most volatile periods in American history. Almost touching an hour, the documentary presents the way things turned out when Johnny Cash was invited to play at The White House. Although Nixon finds a common thread between the two of them and their life journey, we see how Cash starts to walk in the other direction metaphorically. This throws light on the impact of art and its influence in the real world; the documentary shows the intermingling of music and politics. What stands out the most about the film is the context, with the divided opinions on the Vietnam War and the clashes between the establishment and the counterculture. You can stream it here.

11. End Game (2018)

Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, ‘End Game’ is a short documentary film. The film sheds light on the medical practitioners, primarily from San Francisco, who are trying to change the public opinion on death and life in general by offering their patients not just palliative care but a new perspective on life. Naturally focusing on terminally ill patients, the documentary offers an emotional and moving perspective on some of the most crucial moments of human life and the long-lasting consequences of choices that people make in them. So, if you are looking to watch something that gives you a new perspective on life, well, ‘End Game’ might just be the right choice for you. You can watch the movie here.

10. Fire in Paradise (2019)

The town of Paradise in California faced the deadliest fire that the state had ever seen in 2018. Directors Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper revisit the disaster through the eyes of the survivors and the emergency responders through personal interviews and firsthand footage of the tragedy. Eighty-five people were killed in the fire, and the town of Paradise was destroyed, making it the deadliest fire of the century for the state of California. This film became a strong contender for the Oscars, having won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Hamptons International Film Festival. You may watch the film here.

9. Extremis (2016)

This award-winning short documentary is as real as they get. It tells the life and death decisions of families of patients on the verge of death. Being a documentary, it successfully projects emotions of vulnerability, indecisiveness, and the pain of letting go of their loved ones. We witness the inner conflicts of doctors, nurses, and support staff, the execution of the right to die in a dignified manner for terminally ill people in various forms, and the heartbreaking realities the families faced during those times. Feel free to check out the film here.

8. Zion (2018)

Zion is the newest entrant on this list. It is a great inspirational story of one Zion Clark, who was born without legs and was brought up in foster care. Abandoned by his mother, he was floated from one foster home to another during his growing years and suffered a great deal of neglect and hatred from people around him. But that didn’t stop him from making the best of his life and abilities. The story packs a punch in its 11-minute runtime, and the emotional resilience shown by Zion is something to look up to. You may watch ‘Zion’ here.

7. Resurface (2017)

Director Josh Izenberg has made a moving tale about war veterans suffering from PTSD. The short documentary unearths the story of Iraq war veteran Bobby Lane, who, after his discharge from the military, is going through a severe bout of depression and suicidal tendencies. He wants to cross one thing off his bucket list before taking his own life, and that is surfing. But as fate would have it, surfing changed his perspective about life and his mental state. Much is because of the therapeutic attributes of surfing and the peaceful nature of the vast ocean itself. The short neither lacks research-based facts nor the emotional connection one feels for these traumatized war heroes. You can stream the film here.

6. Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (2017)

Well, this is one docudrama you must not skip while surfing through the endless catalogs of Netflix. ‘Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower’ tells the story of a 14-year-old kid from Hong Kong, Joshua Wong, who stood against the gargantuan Chinese Communist government. Hong Kong was invaded by the Chinese in 1997 but was promised autonomy in the near future. But the promise faded with time and faced complete obliteration with the introduction of Pro-Communist teachings in Hong Kong schools. And this is where Joshua comes into the picture. He, along with like-minded people, formed solidarity to repeal propaganda-based teachings and to remind China of its forgotten promise. A moving and thoughtful documentary about the nature of dissent against a Leviathan-like structure. You can stream ‘Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower’ here.

5. The Speed Cubers (2020)

Starring Max Park and Feliks Zemdegs, ‘Speed Cubers’ is a documentary co-produced and directed by Sue Kim. The primary focus of the film is the competitive world of speed-cubing, which has become a global phenomenon in recent decades. Feliks Zemdegs ruled the sport for several years and proved himself the greatest of all time until a less-known challenger from California won the Gold medal in 2017. The surprising win sparked a rivalry and friendship between the two fastest cubers on the planet, which is the focus of the entire documentary. ‘The Speed Cubers’ offers valuable insight into the journeys of the Rubik’s Cube-solving champions and the challenges they face in the future. You can stream it here.

4. Heroin(e) (2017)

This is a story that focuses on a very specific issue in the American society of today, an issue that can have serious repercussions on the fabric of American society in the future- the opioid epidemic. The rapid increase in the intake of opioid drugs in the USA has made life harder for some communities, and none can face the burnt more than Huntington, West Virginia, where the rate of overdose is almost ten times higher than the national average. The title pays homage to three courageous women of the community who are giving their everything to fight this rising concern. It’s very moving and sheds light on a serious problem that has plagued America today. You can watch the movie here.

3. The White Helmets (2016)

Thanks to World media and the wizardries of the internet, almost everyone knows about the plight of war-torn Syria and the citizens’ existence in hell. When we see the extent of destruction done by humans, we also see that faith in humanity is restored by common civilians.  The white helmets are those Bravehearts who worked tirelessly to save humans from under the rubble in Aleppo, Syria. A real-life documentary of the victory of destruction over humanity and the philanthropic deeds of people stuck at the center of the war. You may watch the film here.

2. Period. End of Sentence. (2019)

This Oscar-winning documentary is inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who has been instrumental in leading the revolution on menstrual hygiene in India. This documentary is based in the North Indian village of Hapur, where women had no access to menstrual hygiene products. The lack of access to necessities and the stigma surrounding menstruation causes a lot of young girls to drop out of school. Everything changes when a sanitary pad vending machine is installed in the village, and the women learn to manufacture and market the pads they make. This empowering story was recreated on screen by the director Rayka Zehtabchi and produced by Guneet Monga. You can check out the film here.

1. Out of Many, One (2018)

Netflix’s ‘Out of Many, One’ is a documentary film directed by John Hoffman and Nanfu Wang that sheds light on the deep-rooted socio-political conflicts of the country and offers a much-needed look at the politics of immigration. About 1 in every five immigrants around the world chose America as their home, which proves the country’s exceptionalism and the promise of a better life that it offers. However, moving to another country comes with its challenges, which are further complicated in the light of domestic politics. Feel free to check out the movie here.

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