Brighten up the dark days of winter with this collection of compelling one-a-day shorts – from big-name directors such as Jane Campion to Beyoncé and Chris Ware

January can feel like the longest month: a full 31-dayer to begin with, of course, but also inordinately stretched by its sense of constant renewal. New resolutions to be kept, new standards to be met, new taxes to be filed – and that’s before we factor in Omicron, which looks set to make it an especially testing start to the year. All in all, it’s a good time to investigate new ways to entertain ourselves and nourish our minds.

Cue the 31-day short film diet, a sequel to last January’s much-loved literary diet. This one-a-day starter pack – to form a different, more pleasurable kind of new year habit – is aimed at enriching our lives, not depriving it of small joys. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as regular watchers of short films per se, though we can be without realising it: what is a YouTube cat video, after all, if not a short film of some description?

We’ve kept to a broad remit in defining short films for this collection. Some are cinematic by design, others made by and for mobile phones. There are works by big-name film-makers such as David Lynch and Lynne Ramsay, while viral stars such as Mufasa feature alongside musical headliners including Beyoncé and Thom Yorke.

High contrast is the goal: if you feel disoriented transitioning from an animated Nazi-hunter thriller one day to an ebullient viral dance video the next, all the better to keep you on your toes.

What the shorts do have in common, we hope, is a certain spirit-lifting sensibility. They’re not all necessarily feelgood or inspirational in the conventional sense (though some, like the Netflix triumph-over-adversity doc Zion, certainly meet that brief), but they all offer a stimulating dose of beauty, invention, expansive thinking or occasional concentrated joy. We’ve tried to stick to free content – though some require a Netflix subscription or trial, or a free sign-up to Vimeo – and to steer away from outright downers, but themes of loss, prejudice and the climate are woven through in unexpected ways. Happy watching, and happy new year.

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