Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animated/Documentary/Live Action Fiction

18 Feb 2019

2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animated)  **** Highly Recommended

 

Oscar nominated shorts will be screened at the Bell Lightbox from now (Feb 8th) till Oscar Presentation Day - on February the 24th.  There are 3 categories - animated; live action and live action documentary.

Watching shorts is a real treat and less tiring than watching a full length feature. Plus, not knowing what these shorts are about, one will surely be in for a nice surprise as well.

One thing about this program of shorts is that most of the animated shorts will leave one teary-eyes.  And for a variety of reasons - joy, sadness, loss and pure beauty.  These are animation for adults that kids can also enjoy.  Total length of program around 70 minutes.

ANIMATED SHORTS:

Capsule Reviews:

ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR (Canada) ****

Directed by Alison Snowden and David Fine

 

Five different animals meet with a canine therapist to discuss their inner angst and how to overcome it.  Among them is a praying mantis (who eats her partner after mating), an angry ape, a worm and a cat and a pig.  This animated shot moves fast and furious and is undoubtedly the craziest and most hilarious of all the shorts.  A bit of all over the place piece but one can forgive this fact if one laughs hard enough.

 

BAO (USA) ****

Directed by Domee Shi

 

This American production is from Disney/Pixar and will most likely be then that will win the coveted Oscar.  Set in Toronto, the animation is immediately recognizable from the subway train interior to the neighbourhood chinatown.  The story follows an aging Chinese mother suffering from empty nest syndrome.  One of her dumplings becomes her new son till it grows big and leaves hime.  BOA is a feel-good tearjerker that will definitely leave one in tears - but in a  good way.

LATE AFTERNOON (Ireland) ****
Directed by Louise Bagnall

An elderly woman Emily switches from the past and present memories in what could be Alzheimer’s.  A perfect excuse for the animator to have colours and images flow comfortably into each other resulting in a  very beautiful piece of animation.  Emily tries to piece together her life while trying too to remember what is going on at present.  Very sad and remarkably moving, LATE AFTERNOON is my favourite of all the animated shorts.

ONE SMALL STEP (USA/China) ***

Directed by Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas

This is a beautifully told animated tale of dreams coming true.  The protagonist is a little girl who lives with her shoemaker father.  She dreams of becoming an astronaut.  No wonder her name is Luna Chu.  The story unfolds from the point of view of the shoes that grow from kid’s spaceman boots to adult footwear.  Luna has problems in school, in sports but presses on till she eventually succeeds.  Teams can come true when one does not give up on them,

WEEKENDS (USA 2018) ***
Directed by Trevor Jimenez

Another animated short from the U.S. (besides BAO) in this program that is set in Toronto.  The CN Tower can be seen in the background.  On WEEKENDS, a young boy leaves his mother’s house to stay with his Japanese samurai loving father who then has custody,  The living conditions are very different.  The boy appears to enjoy both worlds.  The boy drifts into fantasy and dreams and ponders over his stay at both places together with their new partners his mother and father are dating.  Beautifully drawn and touching, WEEKENDS is a pleasure to watch.

Other shorts films shortlisted that will be screened: 

Wishing Box, dirs. Wenli Zhang and Nan Li, USA, 6 minutes, English  Tweet Tweet, dir. Zhanna Bekmambetova, Russia, 11 minutes, Language TK

 

 

 

 

2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Documentary)  **** Highly Recommended

 

Oscar nominated shorts will be screened at the Bell Lightbox from now (Feb 8th) till Oscar Presentation Day - on February the 24th.  There are 3 categories - animated; live action and live action documentary.

Watching shorts is a real treat and less tiring than watching a full length feature. Plus, not knowing what these shorts are about, one will surely be in for a nice surprise as well.

One thing about this program of shorts is that they are true stories about life and hardships.  The subjects of these docs are as different as night and day and range from the U.K. to India and Africa.  These are docs are both educational and entertaining and most will leave one teary-eyed as well.  Total length of program around 140 minutes.

 

BLACK SHEEP (USA 2018) ****
Directed by Ed Perkins

 

This gut-gut-wrenching emotional shocker has my vote for best doc short.  It all begins for rather innocently for a black kid Damilola Taylor returning from school.  A 10-year old school Nigerian boy has just been murdered in his neighbourhood.  Camilla finds his mother crying when he got home  The family move out of London (from Peckham to Essex) only for Damilola to find matters worse - in terms or racism in his new neighbourhood of all whites.  His first encounter is a young boy calling him nigger.  I understand and feel for Camilla as I experienced the same thing while in Ireland while walking when kids in a car made slanted eye faces at me.  The short works as what transpires is real and the enactment is terribly effective.  One can never predict how the narrative of the short will lead to making it even more intriguing.

 

END GAME (USA 2018) ***
Directed by Rob Epstien and Jeffrey Friedman

 

This doc follows medical practitioners and several patients as the patients live their last years of their lives.  The staff try their utmost best to make the patients comfortable and their last days meaningful., thus encouraging the audience to re-evaluate their own lives in the light of what is happening.  Many of the subjects in the film have now passed away.  END GAME is a very sad and needless to say, emotional film about life and death.

 

 

LIFEBOAT (USA 2018) ***

Directed by Skye Fitzgerald

This well intentioned short has the aim of informing audiences of the plight of refugees as they risk their lives for a better life.  The film has many disturbing scenes such as overcrowded raft lifeboats filled with refugees with their legs dangling over the side.  They have nowhere to do their business.  Many are sick with fever.  Many die  The short begins with  a search of dead bodies on a beach.  The film follows volunteers from a German non-profit organization as they risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts pushing off from Libya in the middle of the night.  LIFEBOAT puts a human face on one of the world's greatest contemporary global crises and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in the refugee crisis in a meaningful way.  Unfortunately, the narrative is fragmented resulting in the film seeming all over the place.  Still LIFEBOAT is quite the eye-opener.  This one will likely win the Oscar because its theme is the most current.

 

A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN (USA 2017) ***

Directed by Marshall Curry

This is a short, black and white short doc that is no less disturbing for its theme.  Assembled from archive footage, A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN  details a 'German-American Bund' rally held at the Madison Square Garden on February 20, 1939.  American Nazi leader Fritz Kuhn speaks to the gathered crowd when one man, 26-year-old Isadore Greenbaum, rushes the stage to protest the gathered National socialists.  What happens to Greenbaum is gut shattering.

PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE (USA 2018) ***

Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi

This feminist (in such a good way that it will leave even the males cheering the women) short starts of on the ignorance of Indians on menstruation and slides from topic to topic ending with the manufacturing of women’s pads.  The film centres o a few Indian women from a rural village outies Delhi, India who strive to do more as women.  One wants to join the police force.  Others make, sell and market women’s pads.  This is the lightest of all the documentary shorts but no less educational, informative and entertaining.

 

2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Live Action)  **** Highly Recommended

 

Oscar nominated shorts will be screened at the Bell Lightbox from now (Feb 8th) till Oscar Presentation Day - on February the 24th.  There are 3 categories - animated; live action and live action documentary.

Watching shorts is a real treat and less tiring than watching a full length feature. Plus, not knowing what these shorts are about, one will surely be in for a nice surprise as well.

One thing about this program of shorts is that they are the most gut wrenching.  The subjects of two of these involve children, boys before the age of puberty.  DETAINMENT and FAUVE are two my favourites for the fact that they are both totally engrossing from start to finish.  Total length of this program around 109 minutes. 

All the shorts are about delinquent kids except one that is centred on a senior.

Capsule Reviews:

DETAINMENT (UK 2018) *****Top 10

Directed Vincent Lambe

Liverpool, England.  A baby has been murdered.  Caught on video surveillance are two boys and friends, suspect for the murder.  Each are questioned by the police act different locations in the presence of their moms, as the interrogation tears away the layers of lies to reveal what really happened.  DETAINMENT is harrowing because it is hardly imaginable that murder could be committed by two young lads and that test Live -Action short.  The actors playing John and his mother deserve Oscars for their vivd portrayals.  DETAINMENT gets my vote as the best of the program.

 

FAUVE (Canada 2018) ***** Top 10
Directed by Jeremy Compte

FAUVE sees two mischievous boy playing a game of points to see who wins by coming up with  6 points first.  The game consists of showing who is the toughest one.  The game leads the boys to a quarry where one is pushed into grey mud that functions like deadly quicksand.  This scene is extremely well filmed.  In a moment, the fun and games turn into tragedy while the two pubescent boys learn go through their rites-of-passage.  The  figure of the fox that appears to the boys serves as a metaphor that makes the proceedings all the more chilling.  A difficult but excellent watch!

 

MADRE (Spain 2018) ***

Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen

A single mother while with her mother received a call from hr 7-year old son vacationing with his father on some beach in France.  The child is concerned that the dad has not returned and have left him alone for a while.  Things get worse, when pedophile goes after the boy.  All the terror is conveyed through the cell to the madre who is at wit’s end as to what to do.  It is a neat concept of terror conveyed through talk but the open ended ending is a disappointment.

 

MARGUERITE (Canada 2017) ***
Directed by Marianne Farley

 

It is never too late to come out.  The film begins innocently enough with a nurse washing an elderly lady.  The friendship develops both to disclose secrets and longings.  The short shows the trails of growing old and the need to come to terms with the past and present.  Sad and happy at the same time!

 

SKIN (USA 2018) ****

Directed by Guy Nattiv

SKIN is the most disturbing of all the shorts about kids.  There are two difficult to watch scenes.  One is the brutal beating of a black man for no reason that takes place in front of the victim and attacker’s two sons in  parking lot.  SKIN is about a skinhead family.  The second scene has the father reaching the son how to use a weapon as it it was a toy.  The skinhead father finally gets what is coming to him in a climax that would leave the audience satisfied.

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