From all of the spectacular films that we featured in 2017, the Short Film Showcase team narrowed it down to ten favorites that stood out in the categories below. A few of the highlights include a man who lived alone in the woods for 40 years, a real-life wizard who bred unicorns and hunted mermaids, and a musical club of senior citizens who build their own coffins. Congratulations to the talented filmmakers who brought these incredible stories to life.
See our favorites from 2016 here.
This Mind-Bending Race Looks Like a Real-Life Video Game
This is one of the coolest filmmaking feats I’ve seen and the concept was relatively straightforward. It required one drone, one drone operator, one daredevil, and several unique locations. Ilko Iliev shows off his parkour moves as drone operator Marin Kafedjiiski captures him in motion from above. The bird’s eye view from the drone makes it feel like you’re watching a video game that is set in Bulgaria. I love that even though the piece is action-packed, it’s playful at the same time. –Rachel Link
This Is What It’s Like Inside North Korea’s Luxury Ski Resort
World news this year was dominated by stories about North Korea. But what do we really know about life in the Hermit Kingdom? Even for tourists who get a glimpse inside, the nonstop government propaganda makes it hard to distinguish what’s real and what’s fake. In this short by Jackson Kingsley, Britain’s fastest snowboarder, Jamie Barrow, does his best to get an authentic look at this mysterious nation while journeying to Kim Jong-un’s luxury ski resort in Masikryong. –Lauren Leadmon
Beautiful Animation Shows What It's Like to Be Homesick in a New Country
Iranian-born Naghmeh Farzaneh recounts her experience as an international student in the U.S. in this poignant animation. Despite feeling homesick and overwhelmed, she often thought back to her mother’s story about the resilience of geraniums. The piece is beautifully animated and tells Farzaneh’s story in a way that’s imaginative and relatable. Having studied abroad myself, I could definitely identify with parts of the story. –Rachel Link
He Hears Music in the Quietest Place on Earth—Can You?
Sirens, honking cars, yelling people—the world we live in is a very noisy place. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton hopes the natural soundscapes he records are a welcome alternative. He has spent the past 35 years traveling to remote places documenting the quiet sounds of nature away from noise pollution. In this piece from filmmakers Palmer Morse and Matt Mikkelsen, take a few minutes to slow down, put on your headphones, and just listen. –Rachel Link
This Amazing Musical 'Coffin Club' Will Make You Want to Join
Would you build your own coffin? Every week, seniors in New Zealand are having the time of their lives doing exactly that. These DIY “coffin clubs” allow members to cope with death and loss while bringing some fun and personality to their own final journey.
In this documentary-musical extravaganza by filmmaker Briar March, the charming members of the Coffin Club share their philosophy on life (and death) in a toe-tapping song-and-dance number. I dare you not to smile. –Lauren Leadmon
Unicorns and Mermaids? This Real-Life Wizard Will Make You a Believer
Think magic doesn’t exist? This real-life wizard, unicorn breeder, and mermaid hunter might convince you otherwise. In this strange-but-true documentary by Danny Yourd, the legendary Oberon Zell-Ravenheart shares the tales of his extraordinary adventures through myth, magic, and love. When it comes to “The Wizard Oz,” I think the great Mark Twain said it best: “Truth is stranger than fiction.” –Lauren Leadmon
He Spent 40 Years Alone in the Woods, and Now Scientists Love Him
Thanks to technology, we live in an era where people are more connected than ever. I think that’s what makes billy barr’s story so mind-boggling—how could anyone spend 40 winters completely alone in the middle of nowhere?
Seeing how this video by Day's Edge Productions was so popular this year, I’m starting to think we might all have a little hermit inside us begging for some alone time. And if you’re anything like billy, some peace and quiet might even lead to an invaluable contribution to science! –Lauren Leadmon
This Guy Explains Why the Solar Eclipse Will Blow Your Mind
From a U.S. perspective, the solar eclipse of 2017 was epic! I wasn’t able to make it to the path of totality myself, but the stories I heard were incredible. Temperatures dropped, birds went quiet, and crickets started chirping. If you missed it like I did, this film by Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh gives a great overview of what makes this celestial phenomenon so special. When the next one hits the U.S. in 2024, I’ll be ready. –Rachel Link
Take a Tour of a Soviet-Era Ghost Town at the Edge of the World
Welcome to Pyramiden—a communist ghost town at the edge of the world. Once a thriving coal-mining outpost, the abandoned Arctic town is now an unusual tourist attraction with only six residents who live there year-round. One of those people is Aleksandr Romanovsky, a tour guide who goes by the nickname ‘Sasha from Pyramiden.’ Aside from the occasional stray polar bear, Sasha lives a quiet life of solitude in the former Soviet-era settlement. In this film by David Beazley, get a hypnotic look at the man who lives in a place frozen in time. –Lauren Leadmon
Take an Epic Journey With the Elk of Yellowstone
What does an elk migration through Yellowstone look like? Scientist Arthur Middleton, photographer Joe Riis, and artist James Prosek use their various mediums to show you this impressive feat. Watch these remarkable ungulates traverse steep mountain passes and ford raging rivers. Elk are one of many migratory species that make up the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. See their journey unfold in this stunning film from director Jenny Nichols. –Rachel Link
The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the world and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic's belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.