Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Reel Review: The Oscar Nominated Live-Action Short Films

Each year, the Oscar-nominated Short Films are released into theatres as a showcase for the art of the short film; a very refined genre of filmmaking which always has a strong focus on storytelling and characters…a focus that is often lost on feature films with a lot of time to work with. Short films can arguably be the most pure form of the cinematic arts, and the annual release allows us to catch these very-well done films on the big screen where they rightfully belong.

When this year’s nominations were announced, there was controversy over the lack of diversity in the selections. Those empty cans who are rattling the most clearly did not pay due attention to the complete list of nominees, as this year’s nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film are a virtual tour across the world in an examination of culture.

This year's nominees are:

AVE MARIA – The mundane routine of five Palestine nuns is interrupted when an Israeli family crashes their car into the convent.

Short on plot but very light on humor, this is a culture-clash of nuns who have taken a vow of silence who reluctantly break those vows and their coveted routines to help out a Jewish family. Although it’s thin on story, it’s an interesting examination of what it means to be true to your beliefs, and if the strictest of worship is best for our fellow man.

EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY – A divorced father in Austria picks up his eight-year old daughter for a day of fun, but his actions quickly become suspicious.

This is a slow-burning nail-biter which gets more and more frightening as it goes on. Basically a story about a dad who is quietly plotting to kidnap his own daughter, it is a calm thriller with an emotional wallop of ending, and is an astonishing example of how a short film can be so moving while working with so little. It’s also an acting powerhouse, with eight-year old Julia Pointer as the highlight.

SHOK – The friendship of two boys is tested as they try to survive the war in Kosovo.

The war between Serbian and Albanian people is seen through the eyes of two children, which brings one shocking turn after another. The war in Kosovo is often forgotten by most of the world, and by seeing it through the eyes of a child, makes it new with all of its horror. Told through a bookend with the adult version of one of the two friends, SHOK is powerful and shocking.

STUTTERER – A young man with a severe stutter travels to London to meet his online girlfriend for the first time.

A true charmer which takes a look at dating in this century and how it can change our perceptions of a person. It’s a very well-done tale which generates a lot of empathy for the main character who can barely spit out two words, and the ending which involves a long-awaited meet with his online girlfriend has a twist that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud.

DAY ONE – A new interpreter arrives at a war zone (presumably Iraq), and immediately falls into a situation where she has to deliver a baby.

On paper, DAY ONE seems very light on story, but it is also a look at culture-clashes as strict traditions ban certain people from doing certain tasks, which puts the new interpreter in one sticky and dangerous situation. It’s a great little war-story with a bittersweet ending, although the time taken to get there is a little bit of a grind.


Review for the Animated Short Films HERE

The Oscars will be awarded February 28th.


1 comment:

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