Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oscar Shorts! Academy Award Nominated Short Films (Live-Action)

Since moving to Omaha about three months ago, my favorite find has been Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater. They play the kind of movies I want to see, and this week I was lucky enough to catch the five titles nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at this year’s Academy Awards. I’ll take a brief look at each of them, in the order they were presented.

Kavi / ***

Directed by: Gregg Helvey
Running Time: 22 minutes
Country: USA/India
Language: Hindi

“Kavi” tells the story of a young boy trapped in slave labor in India, being forced to pay off his father’s debts. The film has several effective moments, but in some cases feels a little too heavy-handed; the villains in particular are painted with extremely broad strokes. The overall story succeeds due to a tremendous performance by Sagar Salunke in the title role.

The New Tenants / ****

Directed by: Joachim Back
Running Time: 20 minutes
Country: Denmark/USA
Language: English

This was far and away my favorite of the nominated films. This darkly disturbing yet funny tale finds two men who have just moved into an apartment with a history that wasn’t divulged to them by the landlord. Unexpected visitors keep popping up to shocking and hilarious results. I don’t want to give too much away for those who will get a chance to see this, which I highly recommend you find a way to do.

Miracle Fish / ***½

Directed by: Luke Doolan
Running Time: 17 minutes
Country: Australia
Language: English

“Miracle Fish” starts a little slow but effectively builds its way to a powerful climax. Eight-year-old Joe (Karl Beattie), after being teased on his birthday, wishes for everyone in the world to go away. He sneaks into the nurse’s office for a nap, and when he wakes up he realizes his dream may have just come true. Doolan reveals the true nature of the film slowly, and does a remarkably effective job.

The Door / ***½

Directed by: Juanita Wilson
Running time: 17 minutes
Country: Ireland
Language: Russian

This is another slow burner, even with the short running time. It begins with a voice over stating, “That day we didn’t just lose a town. We lost our whole world.” I definitely thought the film was about one thing and it turned out to be about another. This is a very understated film, and packs quite a bit of power by the end.

Instead of Abracadabra (Istället för abracadabra) / ***½

Directed by: Patrik Eklund
Running time: 22 minutes
Country: Sweden
Language: Swedish

A 25-year-old man that still lives with his parents is the subject of another darkly funny nominee. The young man dreams of becoming a magician, much to the chagrin of his father. When a pretty lady moves in next door the would-be magician goes to great lengths to impress her.

Obviously I’ll be rooting for “The New Tenants,” and “Kavi” was clearly my least favorite, this is an overall solid lineup of nominees.

Theater: The Ruth Sokolof Theater, Omaha, NE
Time: 215 pm
Date: February 21, 2010

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