Unknown Caller

By Nardeep Khurmi | Drama
A man gets a scam phone call on tax day, then lashes back at the scammers.

Donny is desperate to get his paper tax return sent off with the daily mail delivery. But he’s frustrated by a skeptical mail carrier, who can’t quite believe how unsavvy Donny is about the Internet — which Donny still calls the “information superhighway” — as well as his phone constantly ringing with an unknown caller.

When he gets a series of messages from phishers and scammers, he decides to give them a piece of his mind, calling them back to berate them for their nefarious schemes. But then he finds himself caught up in a surprisingly soul-searching conversation and realizes things are a little more complicated than he thought.

Directed by Nardeep Khurmi and written by Denzil J. Meyers (who also plays the leading role), this short dramedy has a lightness of touch that belies a much deeper inquiry into the humanity of the often faceless voices on the other end of those impersonal services and solicitation calls.

The narrative starts as a kind of oddball character portrait, of a man who isn’t adept or hip to the vagaries of modern technology, and in fact possesses a vague, alarmist mistrust of it all. The visuals mix a melancholic naturalism and somewhat abstract framing with pacing and editing that feels jazzlike and sometimes even jarring. But it adds a sense of energy and dynamism to what is essentially a film about a phone call.

The humor here isn’t found in hitting punchlines, but rather in portraying the misalignment between a man and the fast-moving mores of contemporary life. W Donny finds himself growing all the more enraged by the influx of “unknown callers” on his phone and in his voicemail, he decides to take his frustration out on them, calling them back to berate them. But when he finds himself having an honest conversation with the person on the other end, the film slows down, allowing its emotions and ideas to become richer and more resonant.

Both the writing and performances come to the fore here, and both the viewers and Donny slow down to settle and listen as the unknown caller explains who he is and the reasons for his line of work. What unfurls is somewhat of a miracle of connection, as Donny sees the humanity behind the faceless voice.

“Unknown Caller” ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, and perhaps it also functions as a Rorschach test of how idealistic or pessimistic one is about humankind. It also explores an emerging modern stereotype of the anonymous call center worker in a far-off country, pestering anyone with a phone number with scams, sales solicitations and phishing schemes. But the film reminds us that these voices are connected to living, breathing people, with feelings, experiences and stories of their own. These are people we may never truly know, but as Donny comes to discover, that doesn’t mean that we can’t see their humanity and offer them our benevolence.

You Might Also Like:

Feeling Through (Oscars)

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

Call Connect

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

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

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


By Christophe M. Saber | Comedy
A father slaps a disobedient child. Then a bystander threatens to report him for abuse.

The Landing

By Josh Tanner | Sci-Fi
A man uncovers the horrifying truth of what landed on his childhood farm.

Sometimes, I Think About Dying (Sundance)

By Stefanie Abel Horowitz | Drama
A woman thinks about dying. But a co-worker asks her out.

The Goodnight Show

By Charlie Schwan | Sci-Fi
A virgin tries to get laid before an unstoppable asteroid ends the world.

Naysayer ft. Steven Yeun

By David M. Helman | Drama
A father is cut off from his son, then takes matters into his own hands...

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Lost and Found (Oscars)

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.


By Joe Gillette | Romance
2 strangers at a wedding reception make an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time-loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield (Sundance)

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy.


By Noel Loozen | Comedy
A young man works in a food truck, across from a brothel with a girl who needs his help.

Long Branch

By Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart | Romance
A young woman finds a one-night stand. But he lives 2 hours away via public transit.

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.