CAPITAL IRISH FILM FESTIVAL 2023: The Best Of Irish Shorts

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Capital Irish Film Festival Short Films - But Why Tho

The Capital Irish Film Festival 2023 presented over a dozen short films of all kinds, from emotional family dramas to comedic adult and children’s animation. Running through many of these films are themes of queer love, hobbling masculinity, and the racism of Ireland’s migration system. These five Capital Irish Film Festival short films were my favorites.

As If There Were Trees

As If There Were Trees - But Why Tho

One of the several Capital Irish Film Festival shorts engaging with migration as well as masculinity, As If There Were Trees is about a young man in a poor town after the mother of his child left them to return home to Poland. He loses his job over some drugs, and he comes to resent his former Polish co-workers for still having jobs, much like everyone else in town. His aunt is the only one taking care of the child, really, and it’s a strong demonstration of how fragile masculinities, namely joblessness, being abandoned by a woman, and the fear of being unable to provide for his child result in aggression turned back on other men.


Capital Irish Film Festival Short Films - Homebird - But Why Tho

The winner of the Capital Irish Film Festival’s 2023 Norman Houston Short Films Award, Homebird is the story of a wayward son returning home for an awkward evening with his father after suddenly leaving a short time ago. This award-worthy short turns the typical queer tale on its head. Where so often the cause of a family’s riff is the queerness itself, here, it’s the assumption that there will be one. It’s from a lack of communication and the difficulty of men expressing their emotions that the conflict derives, and with its acknowledgment, a deeper kind of reconciliation.

Ship Of Souls

Ship Of Souls - But Why Tho

Perhaps my favorite short of the whole festival, Ship of Souls, follows a family shortly after a wife accidentally kills her husband in a car/bike accident. She returns to her husbands’ parents’ house with her sister-in-law to try and bring herself comfort through her traditional Japanese mourning customs. But these customs clash enormously with her father-in-law’s emotionally stunted expectations for mourning. What ensues is not only massively tear-rending but also a stunning exchange of culture as beautifully portrayed as it gets.

La Tumba

La Tumba - But Why Tho

I love a story that plays with language barriers. La Tumba is about a park ranger, deadset on being taken seriously, who stumbles upon a woman in the woods digging her own grave. After arresting her and alerting his superiors, he takes her back to his office until help arrives. But she only speaks Spanish, so a cross of heartfelt bonding and comedy ensues. This tale is really touching as well as a prime example of how you can tell a story about miscommunication without making it the point. In fact, they actually understand each other pretty well, all things considered, and it’s all the greater a story for it.


Capital Irish Film Festival Short Films - Viva - But Why Tho

In a dystopian future, everybody must die at a certain age to preserve the population for everyone else. A family spends its final night together before a couple goes through their life-ending process. In watching this family argue over the right and wrong of forcibly ending older lives, we see a deep and heavy debate about the philosophy of aging with grace and dying with dignity, much more so than it is about population control or anything more controversial like that. This short film possesses some of the festival’s best cinematography with truly gorgeous combinations of staging, lighting, and set design.

The Captial Irish Film Festival 2023 screened all of these short films and more. Follow all of our coverage of the festival here.

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