Allan Ellen

By Juan Ros | Romance
A couple with a serious crisis travels to a desert to recover their lost love.

Allan and Ellen are a couple that has traveled to the desert, where they must work together to get through some kind of quest pursuing a mysterious figure eluding capture. But they bicker and snipe at one another, unable to work together as they move through the landscape.

But when Allan falls through a hole, he lands right in his subconscious, where he delves into his deepest fears via a surreal, dystopian dream. Meanwhile, Ellen is spirited away into her memory, where she reckons with the initial spark of meeting Allan in the past and their tense, unhappy present. Their individual explorations converge, and together they must decide their future.

Written and directed by Juan Ros, this short sci-fi romance takes the tropes of technology and the tools of cinematic storytelling and uses them as a metaphor for self and soul exploration. Able to dissolve the boundaries between time and space, the style allows an emotionally flailing couple to explore their inner psyches, in the hopes of making a breakthrough.

The film has the sheen, polish and panache of a high-end time travel film that will appeal to fans of "Mad Max" and Terry Gilliam. The impressive and ambitious visuals blend glossy sheen with steampunk elements, and the images often dazzle the eye as they capture the zig-zags between different places and timeframe. Yet as we swoop from one dazzling angle and movement to the next, the couple framed in each impressive shot is having an intimate crisis.

The emotional content is almost lost in the stylish, ambitious visuals, creating a kind of disconnect between the style and content. But as their pair dig into their psyches, the visuals settle into a more naturalistic style. We see Allan and Ellen meet cute with a winning sweetness that's as quirky and unique as they are. Actors Maarten Dannenberg and Karina Kolokolchykova have gentle, tender chemistry together, navigating both joyful and tumultuous emotions with both subtlety and precision. They make appealing romantic leads, and we root for them to work things out, even as the film explores the inner tensions and divisions that may pull them apart.

A fascinating, impressively envisioned blend of "Mad Max" and romantic drama, "Allan Ellen" has a long runtime for a short, but it rewards that length with a deep exploration of how two individuals come together as a couple. Many romances focus on courtship, but the film is a rare exploration of what it means to choose your partner, again and again, especially when the "shine" has worn off. Ironically, for the couple, it involves reconciling their own inner fears and faults as individuals. Only after that personal growth and self-knowledge can they take the next step -- whether it's together as a pair choosing to deepen their bond, or apart to pursue new avenues of growth.

You Might Also Like:


By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.


By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.


By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.


By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...


By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.


By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I'm Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening. That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.