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Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts (2011)

February 20, 2011

Along with the Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts, Shorts International releases the lineup of nominated live-action films to U.S. theaters.  These are films being made by students, part-time filmmakers, or people just looking to express their unique views of the world.  Most years, these films, even with Oscar nominations, go unseen by a majority of the filmgoing population, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good.  We at Keeping It Reel have gotten to see all of these nominated live-action shorts, and wanted to share with you a little bit about each one.  Enjoy!

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The Confession

Directed by Tanel Toom / 26 min. / UK


A shy 9-year-old named Sam is going through Catholic school and is told that he is about to make his first confession.  Sam  is afraid he is going to have a bad confession because his conscience is completely clear and he has nothing to say.  In an attempt to create sins to confess, Sam and his best friend Jacob decide to play a prank on a local farmer.  What starts as a lighthearted trick turns tragic and Sam must deal with the consequences.  Let me start by saying that the acting performances, especially by the children, are really well done.  The main problem with The Confession lays in the writing and gravity of the situations the writer chooses to put these young boys through.  The film begins lighthearted, and quickly turns to something far too serious to be accepted by a logical mind.  This film is bubbling over with Catholic guilt and clearly stems from some serious religious angst.  While the acting and technical aspects of this film are quite good, the story leaves a little to be desired.  In a short film, you only have a few minutes to engage the audience and move a story along, so keep it simple.

Rating: **1/2

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Wish 143

Directed by Ian Barnes / 24 min. / UK


A young man (probably 15 or 16 years old) lives in a special care ward in England because he has a kiwi-sized tumor in his chest and has only months to live.  One day, a representative of a wish-granting foundation visits him for chance to get his biggest wish granted.  He can meet his favorite soccer star, or go to Disney Land… really anything he wants.  However, the only wish the boy has is to lose his virginity before he dies.  This wish is not intended to be in jest either, as local media and townspeople are catching wind of his life’s goal.  When he is approached with the actual chance to be with a woman, the young man has a revelation that changes his outlook on life.  Again with this film, the acting performance by the lead actor is really good.  The actor is engaging, very believable, and comes across as an honest teenage boy who just wants to be normal before he succumbs to his illness.  Across the board, this film is executed well and results in a heartwarming story that gets to the basic needs of any human; to not be lonely.

Rating: ***


 

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Na Wewe

Directed by Ivan Goldschmidt / 19 min. / Belgium and Burundi


Na Wewe gives us a quick glimpse into an occurrence that probably happened on a daily basis in the Republic of Burundi, a country in Eastern Africa, during a civil war in the 1990s.  A van full of people is travelling down a country road when a group of militants jumps out and forces everyone out of the car and demands that they identify themselves as Hutus or Tutsis.  The implication is that whoever identifies themselves as Tutsi will be swiftly killed at the hands of these armed “soldiers” (some of which are small children).  The selection process begins and, in what is both extremely tense and comical at times, the soldiers have to make sense of all the different backgrounds of the people in the van.  Though I liked this movie, it definitely did not give me a “warm fuzzy” feeling.  Many defenseless people are threatened with death and are robbed throughout this brief story, but that wasn’t my main problem.  This movie played very much like a public service announcement in attempts to educate presumably naïve Western audiences.  There are too many characters and too little time in this movie to actually care about anyone, and the conclusion of the film brings a “cheesy” scene that will make you think a certain internationally-known rock star benevolent figure (you do the math) might have been involved in the making of this film somehow.

Rating: **1/2

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The Crush

Directed by Michael Creagh / 15 min. / Ireland


A young boy named Ardal Travis is deeply in love… with his second-grade schoolteacher, Miss Purdy.  The only problem is that she has a man, and is newly engaged.  Miss Purdy and her fiancée run into Ardal and his mother on the street during the weekend, and the fiancée turns out to be a real jerk.  The second grader devises a plan to show his teacher that he is the right man for her, and not her fiancée.  At a glance, and after hearing the synopsis, you might think that this film has the possibility of being very lighthearted and cute.  Not so fast.  I believe that the filmmaker meant well, but what results is a movie that reads “creepy” the whole way through, whether it’s a softly underlying theme of pedophilia, or seeing the early years of a boy who will most certainly become a serial killer.  In principal, The Crush could be a fun and light short film that wins hearts, but some fundamental writing flaws hold it back.

Rating: *1/2


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God of Love

Directed by Luke Matheny / 18 min. / USA


Awkward Brooklyn-dwelling hipster Raymond Goodfellow is a lounge-singing dart-throwing champion who is head over heels in love with his lounge band drummer Kelly.  Kelly is not in love with Raymond, but rather his best friend Fozzie, who does not reciprocate the feeling.  One day, after a prayer to the god of love, Raymond receives a package filled with magical love darts.  If Raymond throws a love dart at the person of his choice, they will be enthralled with him for 6 hours, where he will have the chance to make them fall in love with him forever.   Of course, he utilizes his new darts on the subject of his desire, and they go on a special date where Raymond pulls out all the stops.  Throughout his journey in this film, Raymond learns some lessons about love and has a revelatory moment about where he stands in the universe.  This is definitely the short I was waiting for in the bunch!  God of Love is a hilarious, light, fun, and engaging short film that is reminiscent of Woody Allen’s early work.  If you can, see this movie!  Whether it is on the Internet, at the Shorts International showcase, or if you buy the DVD off of Luke Matheny’s website, you need to enjoy this short like I did!  Though it may not win, as the Academy always goes for politically charged films in these short categories, it is definitely the most enjoyable, and I look forward to seeing more of Luke Matheny’s work in the future!

Rating: ****


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There are the nominees for the Best Live-Action Short category for this year’s Oscar ceremony.  The show will be on ABC this Sunday!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Barry Mano permalink
    August 25, 2011 8:13 am

    Is there someplace I can purchase these shorts on DVD? Been trying to with no luck.

    Terrific pieces.

    Thx

    Barry

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