By Thomas Wood | Drama
A young refugee goes to a party to meet a French girl. But he has trouble with the police.

Aly is a young asylum seeker in Paris. He arrived in Paris from Guinea and is waiting for his paperwork to go through the bureaucracy that is the French government. But in the meanwhile, life goes on, and after getting dressed and psyching himself up, he heads out to a party, where he hopes to impress Mathilde, the woman he has a crush on.

On the way, he waits in line for a meal being distributed to other refugees like him. But when he loses his place in line taking a phone call from his crush and gets into a scuffle with the police monitoring the crowd, he realizes that he can't easily escape the reality of his tenuous situation.

Written and directed by Thomas Wood, this short drama is a slice-of-life portrait of a young refugee in France, putting us in the shoes of someone who is an outsider and uncertain of his place in the social firmament. Aly is highly relatable, as a young man who wants to connect with a woman he fancies, and he's sweetly nervous about impressing her at a party later in the night. It's a hopeful romantic situation that many can relate to, and the film's visual naturalism with its handheld camera and offhand editing style gives us the sense of an ordinary life unfurling before our eyes. But the storytelling is alert to how someone's political and social realities -- often invisible to the outside eye -- can set Aly apart emotionally and culturally.

The film resonates with a quiet but powerful authenticity, both in the matter-of-fact documentary-like style and in its casting of lead actor Mamadou Diallo, who the director met as a volunteer at a non-profit distributing food to refugees. Diallo plays Aly first and foremost as a young man with relatable aspirations and hopes -- as someone with a crush on someone and trying to take it to the next stage. He's likable and appealing, his first scenes possessing an endearing vulnerability and excitement.

But as he heads out into the night and stops by for his meal distribution, things feel immediately more dangerous as he waits in line with other anxious refugees. As a tense situation develops, Aly realizes that he isn't "just" a carefree young man flush with anticipation and possibility. He's someone struggling to establish himself in a new country, with an uncertain future and many obstacles to overcome -- someone that some are wary of or look down upon.

Diallo ably portrays how this realization chips away at Aly's confidence and hopefulness, even as he finally makes it to the party and receives a warm welcome from his crush and other partygoers. But despite the conviviality, Aly is an outsider in this society, not yet accepted. The final image of "Aly" is both simple and profound in how it captures the loneliness that befalls its title character, an isolation made all the more poignant for its social setting. Even when surrounded by friendly people, Aly is alone, without a solid foundation -- and the comfort of a safety net if he stumbles.

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.