5 short films about young love to stream now

With characters like a disabled LGBTQ teen, a merman, and a pre-teen film director, these are not your average coming-of-age films.

by André-Naquian Wheeler
25 August 2017, 9:15pm

Screenshot, "VATTEN por NICLAS LARSSON", Camp David Film.

Watching a film about people falling in love can sometimes feel preferable to the real thing. You get to experience the endorphin rush (backed by a masterful score) and skip over all the interminable waiting around for texts back and awkward early dates. Thankfully, there are scores of touching short films about first love by emerging directors, available to stream online.

More young directors than ever are choosing to share their work on platforms like Vimeo and Youtube, making them great spaces to combat Hollywood's diversity and sexism problems. Noticing this trend, Vimeo launched the "Share the Screen" initiative last year, offering financial support to female directors and leading educational film workshops. And this online content is making its way to Hollywood. The queer short The Way He Looks was adapted into a feature film after it went viral.

Here are five short films about falling in love. These five shorts include diverse, fresh representations of romance, from a blind teenager realizing he likes the new boy at his school to a girl falling in love with a merman. And don't worry, most of them have happy endings.

Our Time (2013)

If you're a fan of Stranger Things, then Our Time, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, is sure to feed your 80s nostalgia. Made on a $400 budget, the 30-minute film tells the tale of Paul, a pre-teen aspiring filmmaker, becoming enraptured with Becca, who has just moved across the street. Directed by David Paul Irons, the visuals possess a nostalgic warmth, the title cards throwback to the skinny, neon text popular on VHS covers, and there's a banging synth soundtrack. Paul and Becca bond as they film a Rambo-inspired movie on Paul's clunky JVC camera, biking around the English countryside without a care in the world. The kids end up creating a wacky, static-heavy film and a tender romance. The trailer for Our Time cleverly riffs on all the motifs of 80s trailers, featuring a mysterious vaporwave soundtrack, a cheesy, dramatic voiceover, and awkwardly edited clips.

Cold Shivers (2016)

Cold Shivers depicts how familial abuse can prevent a teenager from creating healthy relationships. The film begins as an affectionate love story, a boy's girlfriend pleading him to usher in the next stage of their relationship by introducing her to his mother. The story then nosedives into dark, Norman Bates-esque territory, illustrating a mother-son relationship that has no boundaries. Showing this dynamic is important, as the sexual abuse of male adolescents is often overlooked. In fact, the National Center for PTSD found that one in ten males suffers from trauma as a result of sexual abuse and that boys are more likely than girls to be abused by strangers or authority figures.

Vatten (2012)

This eerie Swedish film is about a girl discovering that a teenage merman lives at the bottom of her school's swimming pool. There's little explanation, or dialogue, in the film, so viewers are forced to decide for themselves if Clara, who feels misunderstood by the outside world, is imagining this dreamy boy. The film illustrates the potential darkness of first attraction, Clara becoming dangerously enamored with this attractive creature. She goes to great lengths to maximize the time she can spend underwater, using a breathing hose while swimming and getting caught and arrested for breaking into the pool at night. The film is the creation of rising short film director Niclas Larsson (who somehow got Anna Wintour to make a cameo appearance in his 2015 short The Magic Diner). Watch the full film here.

Hi Maintenance (2016)

"Hi." Even though we're constantly saying "hi" to each other, how, when, and where we say it communicates a lot. There is the half-hearted version, the one shrilled with enthusiasm and wide eyes, the one said to get someone's attention, the one filled with nervousness, and the relieved one after a lengthy separation (just to name a few). Produced by Topman, Hi Maintenance tracks a British couple's ups and downs solely through their "hi"s. Composed of colorful sets, manic on-screen text and drawings, and youthful characters, this love story has some serious Wes Anderson vibes.

I Don't Want to Go Back Alone (2010)

There is a need for more intersectional LGBT characters in film and television. For example, a character who is LGBT and low-income or someone who is LGBT and HIV-positive. I Don't Want to Go Back Alone chips away at this issue by depicting the sexual awakening of Leonardo, a gay teenage boy who is blind. Shot in Brazil, the Portuguese language short is as sunny as its locale — including a tense, nervous first kiss, hand holding, and the perfect fairy tale ending. In fact, the 2010 short was beloved by the internet so much, it was adapted into the 2014 internationally released feature The Way He Looks. In both films, director Daniel Ribeiro proves depictions of differently abled characters do not have to be bleak and unrelatable. If anything, I Don't Want To Go Back Alone and The Way He Looks are uniquely exhilarating and inspiring.

Our Time
the way he looks
Hi Maintenance
cold shivers