This is the second year I was lucky enough to find the Shorts HD Channel program of Oscar Nominated Short Live Action and Animated Films program at a nearby theater. These films are often the unsung gems of the film year. They are all excellent examples of what can be accomplished in their format and if you find this program playing anywhere near you be sure to check it out.
Live Action ShortsLet me warn you right off the bat, that this is a grueling experience. Of the five films nominated, only one has a fairly light subject and somewhat sunny demeanor. The remaining four all are excellent but display varying amounts of grimness that will be a challenge to get through. Three of them in particular might be so disturbing ass to cause you to rethink having the experience.
SHOK (Friend)This is a devastating slice of life about the horrors of the Serbian genocides of the 1990s. It is centered around the friendship of two preteen boys, struggling to live in war torn Serbia/Albania. Reflecting on it afterwards made me tear up and hope to heaven that such awful behaviors can be wiped from the planet. Imagine some of the attitudes of the Nazis, transplanted to modern day Eastern Europe and you will know what might be coming. As a story, it might be the strongest of the films.
Everything will be OKThere is a haunted tone around the story in spite of several moments of warmth. A creeping desperation seems to seep out of the main character, a divorced German father who is spoiling his daughter on his visitation weekend. Sadness surrounds the movie even more as we begin to see where the movie is headed. The end is heartbreaking, regardless of what you think about the actions the father is taking.
Day OneAn American woman of Afghan heritage joins an army platoon on it's mission in Afghanistan as a translator. The complicated cultural and political issues are explored in a tense sequence of events involving a surprising development in the process of trying to run down a maker of IEDs. There is humanity in everyone that we meet but there is also heart break and danger. This was the film that seemed most accomplished to me from a cinematic point of view. It is shot and directed very effectively and the actors are all convincing.
StuttererHuman communication is a necessity for us to exist as functioning beings. Imagine having the emotions and vocabulary to be a great romantic with a streak of poetry and philosophy, but you are denied the ability to exercise those gifts by a communication disorder. This movie had sadness on longing in almost every frame. It ends with a brief moment of hope that makes it worth the effort to sit through one man's personal tragedy.
Bear StoryIf you have ever read a John Irving novel, you should be well prepared for how morose a bear can be. This is an absolutely beautiful and amazing piece of animation that gives you a ticket to the saddest circus ever. The most depressed people in the world are apparently animators.
World of TomorrowOne of my students happened to recommend this to me the other day, I did not realize it was animated nor did I know it was nominated. There is a sarcastic wit to the film and it offers a depressing interpretation of the future. Cleverly written and performed by the voice actors, it is the least amazing artistic achievement, but it does have some terrific dialogue.
We Can't Live without CosmosThis was a delightful piece of entertainment that takes a sober turn but never seems to be morose. A couple of astronauts in training find ways to amuse and prepare themselves for the great adventure in space. They are kindred spirits that cannot be separated by distance or existing in different dimensions. It's a little weird but very accessible anyway.
PrologueThis film is from animation master Richard Williams, who is responsible for the animation in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." It is a depiction of a battle during Athenian and Spartan wars. It features nudity and violence that is pretty graphic for an animated project. It is a traditional hand drawn project that was completed over a number of years. The pencil drawings are the most impressive thing I saw in the animated program. I would probably choose this as the winner if I were voting.
There were three or four other Animated shorts but I did not write down the titles and after looking around on line for half an hour trying to find a list, I gave up. The ones listed above are the nominated films this year.
2016 OSCAR® NOMINATED SHORT FILM THEATRICAL ANIMATION TRAILER from The Short Movie Channel on Vimeo.