Welcome Oscar Shorts fans! The yearly tradition of releasing into theaters the Oscar nominated Short Films – Animated and Live Action is upon us. As feature length films seem to get longer and longer, the short film genre is not only a relief for our bladders, it also showcases a more personalized art form. These films tell complete stories and show us something unique about our lives. And save us from needing to ask our neighbors, what happened during the five minutes that was missed from the latest epic. Rejoice in what has become a favorite Oscar tradition. (Read my review of the animated shorts.)
Nefta Football Club
Directed by Yves Piat, Tunisia/France
Nefta Football Club is a sharp, subtle story of two brothers who are football fans who find a lost drug mule passing over the Algerian border. One instantly understands the value of the prize and the other finds a more practical use for their discovery. After all, creating borders stops disputes.
Directed by Bryan Buckley, USA
Saria is based on a true story of a massacre of 41 young women at the Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in Guatemala. The women endured beatings and unimaginable horrors before leading a breakout orchestrated by the savvy Saria, which ultimately fails. The movie sheds light on this tragedy and insists that we never forget the lives of these young women.
Directed by Delphine Girard, Belgium
A Sister is perhaps my personal favorite of the life action films. Told in a claustrophobic style, it is the story of a woman who has been taken against her will and relies on the quick thinking of an emergency call operator. Set in an escaping car and the call center, the entire reality of the story is the pursuit to save this woman. It is a scary story which shows how easily our worst fears can come to being. What is also frightening is how often these calls occur and how emergency operators must negotiate these stories every day.
Directed by Meryan Joobeur, Tunisia/Canada/Qatar/Sweden
Brotherhood is the story of a returning Tunisian son to his family after fighting alongside ISIS in Syria. His father does not approve of his choices nor the bride he returns with from the war. This family is broken by the issues surrounding the wars and the results on the family, much like the war itself are outside their control.
The Neighbor’s Window
Directed by Marshall Curry, USA
The Neighbor’s Window is the story of a couple with three young children who are quickly approaching middle age before their time. A young couple moves in across the street and thanks to the curtain-less lifestyle of New York apartment buildings, the couple can watch the lives of their younger counterparts. At first, a seemingly self-indulgent voyeuristic story, it quickly becomes a heartbreaking story of how no one is truly content with the lives they lead. It is an urban Rear Window replacing suspense with tragic loss.
Personal Favorites: A Sister, Nefta Football Club, Saria
Oscar Prediction: Saria
Philadelphia screenings of the Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films begins January 31, 2020, at Ritz Five landmarktheatres.com