Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Oscar Nominated Shorts for 2010: Live Action

Landmark E-Street in downtown Washington is showing the Oscar nominated films, both Live Action and Animated. This review is for the Live Action. The shorts are distributed by Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures. The official website is here. http://www.shortshd.com/theoscarshorts/

"Kavi" (17 min, directed by Gregg Helvey as part of a degree program), from India and USA, 17 min, shows modern day slavery in India, where debtors are forced to offer their kids’ labor to pay debts. Kavi (Sagar Salunke) wonders why he can’t go to school (“some boys go to school, others work) or play cricket, why life is so unfair. The physical imagery of the brick kiln itself is striking.

"The New Tenants" (20 min, dir. Joachim Back, story by Anders Thomas Jensen, Denmark/USA, 2.35:1) presents a cantankerous male couple (Vincent D’Onofrio, Jamie Harrold) in a seedy apartment, visited by rather prying and then dangerous neighbors and visitors, with a cache of powder (remember the feature “Brick”?) The gay partnership angle comes into play at the very end.

In “Miracle Fish” (17 min, dir. Luke Doolan, Australia, 2:35:1), a little boy, on his 8th birthday, slips to sick bay to get away from bullies. Pretty soon, in his fantasies, he faces a real danger from a real school shooter, with an explosive climax to follow. The film gets attention, of course, because of some tragic occurrences at schools in recent years.

The most interesting film for me was “The Door” (18 min, dir. Juanita Wilson, Ireland/Ukraine). A father (Igor Sigov), facing the loss of his daughter to cancer, recalls the day his family had to evacuate its apartment in the Ukraine right after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. The family is not allowed to take any belongings with it. Imagine if you were a writer and couldn’t even take your manuscripts, let alone laptops or flash drives, with you.

Instead of Abracadabra” was reviewed here April 25, 2009, as part of Filmfest DC.
My choice for the Oscar goes to “The Door”.

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