Are you ready for some amazing short films? It's time again for Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia!

This year, over 200 films were selected out of 5,720 films that were submitted from 126 countries and regions around the world. 

The festival theme is "Meta Cinema: Transcend, Discover, Begin." And one of the opening short films of the online venue is Boy Sprouted—featuring a script written by artificial intelligence!

This festival is an Academy Award-accredited festival, meaning the winner of the best short awards in the competition, as well as the Non-Fiction competition and Animation competition, is eligible for nomination in the short film categories of the Academy Awards the next year. 

The festival was founded in 1999 as the Short Shorts Film Festival (SSFF). In 2004, SSFF added a program for Asian short films and established Short Shorts Film Festival Asia with the support of the Governor of Tokyo. Now, the combination of the two festivals takes place annually in Tokyo as Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, one of the largest short film festivals in Asia. It's happening now, from Thursday, April 28, to Thursday, June 30, 2022. 

This weekend, the festival launched its new film from the Japan Cultural Expo Project. The short is online now and is called Mom's Celestial Robe of Feathers. This is the second short film that SSFF & ASIA and Japan Cultural Expo produced, the first one being The Old Woman Skin, a modern story based on a folktale of Fukushima Prefecture.

Watch the movie below, and check out what we can learn after.

The inspiration for the story should inspire you

In this short, a young girl, Ruri, is on the precipice of life change. She's about to leave her island home for new opportunities with a friend and her unlikable boyfriend. But one day, Ruri finds an old love letter to her mother and a ticket to France, and realizes her mother never pursued her own dreams of becoming a pastry chef in Paris. Ruri believes her own birth (and her slightly blundering, often drunk father) "trapped" her mother on the island. When she sees her own plans begin to fall apart, she seeks to help her mother instead.

This touching short film is based on a short story, "Mom’s Celestial Robe of Feathers,"by writer, poet, and lyricist Kumiko Takahashi. It was featured in the Japan Cultural Expo Project last year, and you can read its English translation here.

The short story, in turn, is based on the Okinawan Kumiodori dance titled "Mekarushi," which was written in 1719. In the old tale, a man steals a heavenly woman's feather robe and forces her to live on Earth with him.

6_12'Mom’s Celestial Robe of Feathers'Credit: Courtesy of SSFF & ASIA

It's graduation time here in the United States, and you can see a lot of high school students ready to set off to college as well as college grads moving into the beginning of their professional careers—so maybe we're just being nostalgic, but this short really struck a chord for us. As adults, a lot of us probably do wonder what we would have done differently, or how various choices altered the course of our lifetimes.

It's been a tumultuous couple of years on top of that, and many are reevaluating what's important and what to focus on. This short reinforces that it's never too late to learn new things about the people you love, and there's no deadline on your goals. If you want to rekindle an old dream, go for it! (Filmmakers, go make that thing you keep putting off. Write that script!)

22_1'Mom’s Celestial Robe of Feathers'Credit: Courtesy of SSFF & ASIA

This short should also inspire you to look at the stories around you already. Are there folktales you can update? Cultural touchstones you can use as jumping-off points? You never know, maybe that story from the 1700s you heard once is just the spark of creativity you need.

Kazuhiro Taira wrote, directed, and edited Mom’s Celestial Robe of Feathers. Check out more on the film here, and be sure to watch all the other great shorts available through SSFF & ASIA!