Image: Chris Smith and Jack De Sena

Thanks to the proliferation of film festivals, video websites, and cheap equipment, short films are entering a type of renaissance. Lots of great ideas are being committed to film (or digital, as the case may be) and don’t overstay their welcome. For some, it’s a jumping off point for feature adaptations and more long format work. For others, it’s simply the ideal expression of their ideas. Chris Smith and Jack De Sena are two filmmakers who are constantly tweaking genre staples with their short film work, injecting lots of awkward but heartfelt (if a bit dark) comedy into well-worn scenarios. Their latest film, Movies In Space, is no exception, exploring what happens when an astronaut becomes an ambassador for Earth on another planet, and soon finds himself embroiled in that alien world’s movie industry.

The film smartly sends up both the “rise and fall” true Hollywood type story while tweaking the sci-fi concept of two alien cultures mixing together. A gut-punch ending lands beautifully as well. The film toured around the festival circuit for a while last year, winning “Best Fantastic Short” at Fantastic Fest, “Silver Audience Prize” at Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and a few other accolades along the way.

For more films from the duo, check out their YouTube page, which has three other great shorts that also mess with the standard approach to genre clichés. It’s nice that so much talent is exploding on to the scene, and hopefully this will just lead to better things and bigger projects for the very talented filmmakers.