Hard Rubbish

By Stephen Packer | Comedy
A teenager is mugged by a gang, then clumsily calls the cops to seek justice.

Adelaide, Australia in 2003. Fifteen-year-old Simon is hanging out with these friends one night in their upper-class suburb when they decide to vandalize a local girls’ private school, the latest gesture in inculcating their punk rock hooligan image.

In the course of their hijinks, however, they encounter a real gang, who don’t merely affect a hardened streetwise edge. They’re the real thing, and they see right through Simon and his friends, scaring them off through a chase through the suburbs.

The night continues to veer off-course, especially as a call to the cops in an attempt to get some justice goes particularly awry.

Based on a true story, this spirited action-comedy — directed by Stephen Packer and written by Michael H. Beck — is all about the sometimes vainglorious misadventures of being young, especially in the name of trying on new identities and exploring the world outside the bubble of family and school.

It’s easy to turn a story like this into farce or slapstick, but the excellent writing and directing keep this comedy on a fairly even keel, taking on a naturalistic look and feel, even as the pacing stays quicksilver and even buoyant. The camera and action are briskly paced, with an eye for engagement and an ear for understated deadpan wit and irony.

The story doesn’t unmask its central core of characters right away, setting them up as rebels and delinquents, though fairly tenuous ones. It’s not until Simon and his friends encounter a real group of edgier “thugs” — poorer, rougher in manner and more menacing — that the pretense begins to crumble, to low-key but comical effect. Embarrassed at being called out for their privilege and their pretense, the group tries to salvage their pride, but each move only seems to escalate their unmasking, much to their ever-deepening mortification.

“Hard Rubbish” has the gift of capturing teenage misadventure without leaning too heavily on nostalgia, and in the end, it achieves a strange, affectionate winsomeness in its comedy, especially in the final scenes when all pretense towards being edgy and punk rock falls away. After all, these are just a group of young boys in a game of pretending to be more savvy and lived-in than they really are. Which in and of itself is a marker of youth, where we try on personae and characters that gesture towards grown-up independence — but at the end of the day like to come home to a nice room and a midnight snack prepared by mom.

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 | Features
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 | Features
A virgin tries to get laid before an unstoppable asteroid ends the world.

Naysayer ft. Steven Yeun

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

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Features
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 | Features
2 strangers at a wedding reception make an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

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

Garfield (Sundance)

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Official Selection
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 | Features
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.