Independent short films from the 2000s prove that the first decade of the 21st century was an amazing time for movies. Even with limited budgets, some of these films won Oscars in the short film categories. The following is a list of ten great independent short films from the 2000s: 

  1. “Thoth” is an Oscar-winning documentary about S. K. Thoth, a street performer who plays the violin while wearing a loincloth, percussively stomping his feet and wailing in a made-up language. Director Sarah Kernochan said of her subject in 2002: “In a world where people are waging so much war, this man takes to the street and wages love nearly every day of his life.” 

  2. “This Is John” is the Duplass Brothers’ highly amusing yet pitiful look at an average guy trying to record the outgoing message on his answering machine. Shot for only three bucks, this short film debuted at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. At just under eight minutes, it’s an extremely funny glimpse of the most mundane activity sparking an emotional meltdown.

  3. “Harvie Krumpet” is an Australian short film written, directed and animated by Adam Elliot. The story centers on a Polish immigrant who, despite a life filled with bad luck, always remains optimistic, living out his own eccentric journey. It won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 2003 and remains one of the best independent short films from the 2000s.

  4. “Ryan” is an Oscar-winning 2004 animated documentary, directed by Chris Landreth. The story is about the gifted Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, who ended up living on Montreal’s skid row after a history of alcoholism and drug abuse. This movie, one of the most acclaimed independent short films from the 2000s, also won the 2005 Genie and numerous other awards.

  5. “West Bank Story” is a 2005 musical comedy about competing falafel shops on the West Bank. The story features an Israeli soldier, David, who falls for a beautiful Palestinian cashier, Fatima. Not only do they have the longstanding Middle Eastern conflict against them, but also the hostility between their families’ rival restaurants.

  6. “Spitfire 944” is a 2005 short documentary by independent filmmaker William Lorton, which features an 83-year-old former U. S. Army Air Corps Flight Surgeon viewing 16mm footage of his 1944 Spitfire crash-landing for the first time. This film received an Honorable Mention at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

  7. “I Met the Walrus” is an animated 2007 short film directed by John Raskin, which illustrates a 1969 taped interview with John Lennon, conducted by a 14-year-oldBeatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan. This movie -- one of the quirkier independent short films from the 2000s -- received an Oscar nod and won a Jury Prize at the 2008 RiverRun International Film Festival.

  8. “August 15th” is a 2008 short film directed by Jiang Xuan. Based on a true story, a young Chinese woman gets on a bus with her boyfriend to go and meet his parents. Their happy trip takes a frightening turn when the bus is hijacked. Traveling along China's treacherous mountain roads, the passengers must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice for their own safety.

  9. “Rabbit à la Berlin” is a 2009 German-Polish documentary, directed by Bartek Konopka. The film recounts the story of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War, but from the perspective of wild rabbits that populated the zone between the two walls separating East and West Germany. Nominated for an Oscar in 2010, this fascinating short film has won awards at international film festivals.

  10. “Amanecer” (Daybreak) is a 2009 Spanish-language short film shot in Sydney, Australia. The story follows a young Colombian man as he strives to make a new life Down Under for himself and his family. As a foreigner, his education and experience don’t seem to count. Dreams become lies. Lies become reality. It is one of the finest independent short films from the 2000s.

-Shannon O'Neil