The Short Film category is where new filmmakers get to shine. Several of this year’s directors show a lot of promise, both in terms of directing actors and in creating a gripping story. I wonder how many of them get offers for features after the exposure the nomination gives them. And again, I really wish there were more of these being shown in theaters before the features. It seems a waste that they make the rounds at festivals, but the majority of movie lovers rarely have a chance to see them. If I had a theater!
And the nominees are…
Ave Maria by Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont is a slight, absurdist story of a Jewish settler couple (with mother-in-law in tow) whose car crashes in the West Bank, right outside a convent of nuns who have taken a vow of silence. And it is the Sabbath, so the Orthodox settlers can’t talk on the phone. Just how they end up getting the help they need is the conundrum that the film humorously tackles.
Day One from Henry Hughes is about the first day from hell for an Afghan-American woman working as a US Army interpreter in Afghanistan. She hardly has time to settle in before she’s sent into the hills with a unit looking for a bomb-maker, and stumbles upon a woman who desperately needs her help. She is forced by gender and culture into a role way beyond her expertise. This short is extremely tense and the characters well drawn and I’d be interested to see what happens Day 2.
Jamie Donoughue’s Shok is based on the true story of two best friends, 12-year-old boys in Kosovo during the civil war, when the Serbian Special Forces were attempting to cleanse the land of Albanians. One of the boys makes a horrible mistake that tests their friendship and ultimately puts them and their family’s in the Serbs’crosshairs. It is a tragic story, extremely well shot and the boys are both wonderful young actors. This one wins on my Oscar ballot.
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut) is Patrick Vollrath’s tragic story of a divorced father’s attempt to reclaim his relationship with his 8-year-old daughter. What begins as their usual every other weekend excursion takes a turn and spirals out of control. The audience sees what is happening only slightly before the little girl does, and it is the proverbial “please, let this turn out differently” scenario, that you know will not end well. This film is a close second for the win.
Stutterer from Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage is a 21st century Cyrano de Bergerac tale. A young man with an extreme stutter meets a woman online and carries on a very successful, months-long texting relationship. She loves his turn of phrase. But when she comes to town and suggests they meet, he’s thrown for a loop. This is a cute film, with silly little twist at the end.
And here is a link to the Academy website where you can see trailers for all these shorts (and a lot more.)