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The 25 Best Asian Short Films of 2023

As we have mentioned many times before, and particularly after the restrictions placed in the movie industry internationally due to Covid, short filmmaking has been experiencing a surge in all aspects, with the quantity increasing as much as the quality, to the point that, now, these films can actually be better than their feature counterparts. In Asia in particular, the 2023 has been utterly impressive in that regard, with the short titles of intense quality coming one after the other. 25 of those we collected in this particular list, which we feel is one of the most competitive and overall impressive among the plethora we publish every year.

Without further ado, here are the best Asian Short Films of 2023, in reverse order, although the order, particularly in the first 10, could easily be completely different. Some may have may have premiered in 2022, but since they mostly circulated in 2023, we decided to include them.

25. (2023) by (China)

Yifun Sun's approach is quite artful in its presentation, with the combination of his animation and Jingyu Li's 3D modeling resulting in an excellent flow that carries the short for the whole of its 2-minutes. Also of note is the way the man is drawn, with the his round shape, which changes a number of times, providing a very appealing image. Although quite brief, “Judgement” is essentially a full film, as Yifan Sun manages to tell his story and present his comments fully, in rather artful fashion. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

24. Mental Finger (2023) by Irvan Achmad and Calista Aradea (Indonesia)

Mental Finger” is a thought-provoking and entertaining short film that skillfully explores gender dynamics and toxic behavior through the lens of a badminton match. With strong performances, effective direction, and clever cinematography, the film delivers a powerful message while keeping the audience engaged and entertained. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

23. (2023) by (Thailand)

Moving somewhere between video art and a movie, “Blinded by Centuries” definitely stands out due to its visual approach. The many techniques used, from frame-within-frame, superimposing, manipulation of film speed all work quite well here, essentially keeping the viewer on their toes, trying to guess if they missed something important, particularly when the film speeds up. At the same time, the images themselves are quite powerful, both in terms of footage and the sequences with the actors, with the watermelon and its intense greens and reds having a hypostasis that can only be described as symbolic. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

22. (2023) by (Malaysia)

Bugs (2023) by Gwai Lou

Muhammad Ikhliel Amree and Syahmi Rafiq in the protagonist roles give naturalistic performances, probably being shot in the actual area they live in, with the first in particular, having a difficult role he portrays in flying colors. “Bugs” is a rather well-shot short, that manages to get its messages through in eloquence, while “forcing” its audience to question access to modern technology. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

21. (2022) by (China)

Xiaoxuan Jiang could have come up with a harsh, dramatic film, but her choice for the finale actually allows the movie to conclude with optimism, showing that life goes on, even in these circumstances, it only takes a bit more effort. “Graveyard of Horses” is an impressive short, that highlights the director's knowledge of her subject as much as her eye for composition. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

20. (2023) by (Philippines)

“Good Filipino Kids” is an excellent movie that manages to make its comments in eloquent and entertaining fashion, while benefiting the most by the acting, the direction and the production values, in a testament to the progress of Asian-American cinema. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

19. Canary (2023) by Taka Tsubota (USA)

Taka Tsubota creates a rather suffocating setting, since the cabin is a space where bullying is the rule and the outside is infested with monsters. The intense close ups, the red colors that dominate along with the shadows, and the inevitable physical violence that follows the verbal one, intensify the concept, with the same applying to the monstrous sounds heard periodically in the film. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

18. (2023) by (Japan)

The comments Ochiai expresses through his film are also quite interesting. The generational gap that shows that parents do not understand their children is here once more, but the movie shows that communication is the solution to such a problem. In order for communication to begin, however, people and particularly children have to be able to find the courage to open up and speak frankly, and finding role models and friends is the way to achieve this. Furthermore, the need for acceptance all people need on occasion as much as how far a compliment can go are also commented upon, concluding the rather rich context here. Lastly, a subtle sense of humor adds even more to the entertainment the film offers. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

17. (2023) by (India)

Pulkit Aora cleverly directs a very appealing short, which starts with a sense of disorientation about what is happening before gradually revealing the circumstances of the protagonist. Furthermore, the way Aora implements tension in his narrative, which grows as time passes until the wetting scene is impressive, with the overall pacing of the 12-minutes short emerging as one of its best traits, with editors Lisa Grienfield and Jolin Lee doing an overall great job on this aspect. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

16. Don't Go (2023) by (Japan)

Don't Go Back (2023) by Daichi Amano

“Don't Go” is an excellent movie that manages to make its comments about life and family in the most entertaining fashion, while retaining a cinematic artfulness from beginning to end. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

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