Academy Awards Preview – Live Action Shorts

Oscar, Academy AwardsGetting ready for Oscar, the Trenton Film Society continued its “shorts weekend” yesterday with the live action shorts (see 3-1-14 post for the documentary shorts). Again, there were five nominees—all  foreign.  Between films were excerpts of interviews with a number of directors, including Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and Sean and Andrea Nix Fine who grabbed the documentary Oscar last year for Inocente and Shawn Christensen who won the live action prize with Curfew—both of them extraordinary.

In these interviews, a number of producer/directors talked about the constraints of the short film, which are parallel to the challenges of the short story. The author/creator must be economical, focused, and, if the creative process is working well, can say something more piercingly memorable than in a novel or full-length film. They also spoke about how early short films presage the themes and approaches of full-length features later in the creator’s career.

Possibly, the beauty of short films will become more recognized as people become accustomed to consuming media in shorter and shorter formats. (Thank you, YouTube!)

The live action nominees were:

  • Helium (Denmark) – a sweet film, in which a new hospital worker befriends a dying child and helps him prepare for death by envisioning the imaginary land of “Helium”
  • Avant Que de Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)(France) – A woman and her children flee her abusive husband—tremendous tension, nicely paced
  • Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I have to Take Care of Everything?)(Finland)—Hilarious doings as a couple and their two young daughters get themselves ready for a wedding—the shortest, at 13 minutes
  • The Voorman Problem (U.K.)—starring Martin Freeman (Dr. John Watson in Sherlock) as a prison psychiatric consultant who confronts an inmate prisoner who believes he is a god, possibly God. Based on a bit of David Mitchell’s interesting novel No. 9 Dream (though I didn’t remember this bit)
  • Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)(Spain)—Spanish aid workers encounter xxx child soldiers, and it isn’t pretty.

Watch them online or through Netflix and know what Ellen DeGeneris is talking about tonight!


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