It’s great that these notable short films are finding more screens to be soon on in movie houses and at home via disc and streaming (via vimeo). Short films are a low-budget way for new directors to show their talent and occasionally lead to bigger and better deals. On Friday, I posted capsule reviews of the five Academy Award nominees for Best Short Documentary, and here’s my take on the five nominees for Best Live Action Shorts—“a diverse and satisfying two-hour program,” says Peter Debruge in Variety. Notably, none of the nominees are from the United States.
- Aya (Israel and France, trailer) – the longest of the bunch, at 39 minutes, is the comic story of a chance encounter between a young woman waiting at the airport and an arriving passenger. Rotten Tomatoes provides this insightful sentence: “She, charmed Makraioto woven minute before it, is in no hurry to correct him their.” To decode this a bit, the man mistakes her for his assigned driver, and she is in no hurry to correct him there. Directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis.
- Boogaloo and Graham (UK, trailer) – These are the names of the chickens lively Belfast children Jamesy and Malachy have raised, delighted in their pets and dreaming of running a chicken farm, until changes in the family threaten to shake up the chicken coop. Reportedly, the charming 14-minute movie has received requests from 80 film festivals around the world to show it. Directed by Ronan Blaney and Michael Lennox. My sentimental pick for the Oscar.
- Butter Lamp (France and China, trailer) – Nomadic Tibetan families pose for an itinerant photographer and his assistant in front of absurd and symbolic backgrounds, with the true background to the scene not revealed until the end. In only 15 minutes, this unconventional and memorable film captures the impact of globalization on Tibetans and the erosion of their traditional culture. Directed by Hu Wei.
- Parvaneh (Switzerland, trailer) – in this 25-minute film, an Afghan girl living in a Swiss refugee camp encounters bureaucratic difficulties when she tries to send money home to her ailing father. Only an unlikely friend can help. An award-winning student film, Swiss-Iranian Talkhon Hamzavi directed.
- The Phone Call (UK, trailer) – a shy woman working in a help line call center receives a call from a mystery man that will “change her life forever,” the movie’s promotion says, a “gather ye rosebuds” outcome only modestly hinted at. Featuring Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, who handle the telephone call beautifully and movingly, with Edward Hogg and Prunella Scales. “You’ll wonder how it can do in 20 minutes what some full length features can’t in two hours,” says Casey Cipriani for Indiewire. Directed by Mat Kirkby. Perhaps the more likely Oscar recipient. [And the winner!]