The rest of the Oscar-nominated shorts

Back in April, I wrote about the Oscar-nominated shorts I had seen to date. I’ve since seen all of the rest of them. I’ll tell you how at the end.

Short Film (Live Action)

The Present (Palestine, 24 minutes), IMDB: “On his wedding anniversary, Yusef (Saleh Bakri) and his young daughter set out in the West Bank to buy his wife a gift. Between soldiers, segregated roads, and checkpoints, how easy would it be to go shopping?”

Not easily at all, as it turns out. One can’t but help think the guys at the checkpoint weren’t so much protecting as being schmucks. But it does have a nice ending.

Feeling Through (USA, 18 minutes). IMDB: “A late-night encounter on a New York City street leads to a profound connection between a teen-in-need (Steven Prescod) and a DeafBlind man (Robert Tarango).” Touching and effective. The only one of these I saw before.

Two Distant Strangers (USA, 32 minutes). IMDB: “A man trying to get home to his dog gets stuck in a time loop that forces him to relive a deadly run-in with a cop.” OK, it’s a young black man and a white cop. A warped Groundhog Day. Unsubtle but with a thought-provoking impact. The Oscar winner, and rightly so.

Ayn Levana (White Eye) (Israel, 20 minutes). IMDB: “A man finds his stolen bicycle, which now belongs to a stranger. While attempting to retrieve it, he struggles to remain human.” Having had bicycles stolen from me, I could definitely relate. Does the new owner need it more than the original owner? Issues of immigration are also involved. A good film.

The Letter Room (USA, 33 minutes) IMDB: “When a corrections officer (Oscar Issac) is transferred to the letter room, he soon finds himself enmeshed in a prisoner’s deeply private life.” What would you do in the same circumstances? Especially since his life is pretty much his job? Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron in the last Star Wars trilogy, is very effective here.

Animated Films

Burrow (USA, 6 minutes). IMDB: “A young rabbit tries to build the burrow of her dreams, becoming embarrassed each time she accidentally digs into a neighbor’s home.” Pleasant, light fare.

Genius Loci (France, 16 minutes). IMDB: “One night, Reine, a young loner, sees the urban chaos as a mystical oneness that seems alive, like some sort of guide.” A surrealistic…something. I’ll admit I don’t really get it. Something with her sister and a baby and a muse.

Opera (South Korea/USA, 9 minutes) IMDB: “Our society and history, which is filled with beauty and absurdity.” That doesn’t tell you diddly. From Indiewire: A Provocative Animated Short Confronts Never-Ending Polarization. “It consists of a giant pyramid with cyclical activities.” It’s almost hypnotic.

If Anything Happens I Love You (USA, 13 minutes). IMDB: “In the aftermath of tragedy, two grieving parents journey through an emotional void as they mourn the loss of a child.” And without dialogue, but great use of shadows, you can feel the sense of disconnectedness this couple is experiencing, long before you know why. It’s quite extraordinary and deserving of the Oscar.

Yes-People/Já-Fólkið (Iceland, 8 minutes).  IMDB: “One morning an eclectic mix of people face the everyday battle – such as work, school, and dish-washing. As the day progresses, their relationships are tested and ultimately their capacity to cope.” It’s a story about the mundane, which can be rather interesting, but this wasn’t, at least for me.

If Anything Happens I Love You

Highly commended

The animation nominations run less than an hour, so the packagers usually throw in a few more to create a 90-minute program.

Kapaemahu (USA, 9 minutes) IMDB: “Kapaemahu reveals the healing power of four mysterious stones on Waikiki Beach – and the legendary dual male and female spirits within them.” It was very affecting, telling a story I did not know. You can see it here.

The Snail and the Whale (UK, 27 minutes) IMDB: “A tiny snail goes on an amazing journey by hitching a ride on the tail of a huge humpback whale. Based on the picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.”  It’s a sweet story, with some star power, with the late Diana Rigg as the narrator and Sally Hawkins as the snail.

To: Gerard (USA). IMDB: “A sprightly elderly man brightens the day of a little girl through magic.” A guy from Dreamwork produced this, and it’s very good.

I suppose I would have replaced Burrow, Yes-People, and possibly Genius Loci with these three.


I reviewed all of these – Do Not Split (USA/Norway), Hunger Ward (USA), the winning Colette (USA), A Concerto Is A Conversation (USA), except one.

A Love Song For Latasha (USA, 19 minutes.)  IMDB: “The injustice surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins at a South Central Los Angeles store became a flashpoint for the city’s 1992 civil uprising.

As one critic noted, “The decision to embrace poetic abstract over reenactment is an easy one to make. And that’s exactly what Sophia Nahli Allison does.” It may be a bit confusing for some but it’s worthwhile.

I’d say either Latasha or Collette was the best film.

My local Landmark Theatre, Spectrum 8 offered packages to see one, two, or all three packages. Obviously, I picked the latter, for a total of $30, not much more than the price of three in-person tickets. I ordered them in mid-April and had until mid-May to start watching them. Once I started, in the first week in May, I had until the first week in June to see them all.

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