By Don Simpson | February 9, 2012
Thanks to a very lucrative theatrical run with last year’s crop of short films, we will have the opportunity to see this year’s Oscar® nominated short films as they tour around the United States beginning on February 10, 2012. For the location(s) nearest you, check out the The Oscar® Shorts website. Also note that a majority of the featured cinemas will screen the live-action and animated shorts in two separate programs.
Here is our rundown on the five live action short films that have been nominated for an Oscar® this year. Compared to the short films we saw at Oscar® qualifying film festivals in 2011, these five films fail to impress us (but then again, neither do many of the feature-length Oscar® nominations this year). If we have to pick, though, our bets are on Raju to run away with the win (though we prefer Time Freak).
Also make sure to check out our post on this year’s Oscar® nominated animated short films.
Directors: Peter McDonald
The year is 1977. Damian is banned from watching football, playing football or listening to football due to a clumsy “mistake” he made as an altar boy that nearly dislocated a priest’s hip. Damian makes it very clear that he never wanted to be an altar boy, but that does not matter to his father. His father’s punishment stands as is — even if Liverpool is in the European Cup. But after two weeks, fate would have it that Damian is given another chance to prove himself as an altar boy, this time in front of the archbishop. After a long pep talk by the priest, Damian takes to the altar… The question remains: Will he make another “mistake”?
Directors: Max Zähle
Shortly after adopting Raju in Calcutta, the young Indian boy goes missing. Jan and Sarah — Raju’s new German parents — scour the crowded city looking for him, unraveling a wickedly complicated web of deceit. Morals and ethics are brought to the forefront of this 24-minute narrative, as right and wrong are totally blurred. Let’s just say that Raju represents the absolute worst nightmare of any Westerner who adopts a child from a third world country.
Directors: Terry George
After 25 years of self-exile in the United States, it seems somewhat surprising that anyone in Belfast even recognizes Jim Mahon when he returns to Ireland to show his American daughter Patty his homeland. It is not long before it is revealed that Jim has a long-festering secret concerning an ex-fiancee and a long lost best friend, Paddy. Writer-director Terry George (Reservation Road, Hotel Rwanda) obviously knows his way around the narrative, and he rushes through this 29-minute short as if he was racing against the clock. The Shore surely seems like an interesting story, but I just wish that George would have let us take a few deep breaths to enjoy the salt air.
Directors: Andrew Bowler
An inventor creates a time machine and uses it to travel back to yesterday again and again and again in order to stand up to a dry cleaner and chat up a woman whom he has a crush on. Featuring a totally clever yet ridiculous premise, Time Freak is nicely structured, well paced and a whole lot of fun.
Director: Hallvar Witzø
Would you like to die at the hospital or at home? Oskar receives this question at the end of a dire medical prognosis. At 70 years of age, Oskar is told by his doctor that he is going to die in 6 days. Inger from the Jesus Club arrives at Oskar’s home shortly thereafter to act as his Angel of Death — she has to stick around until Oskar dies to officially earn her Angel wings. Oskar, however, just wants to kill the seagulls around his house by whatever means necessary. Oh, and Oskar has not spoken with his brother in over 30 years, but now it might be time to communicate with him across the Atlantic Ocean via a giant tuba. Leave it to the Norwegians to fill a film about dying with so much quirky absurdity.
For more information, go to The Oscar® Shorts website.