Oscar-nominated short films
A selection of Oscar-nominated short films
An unexpected coming together of disparate cultures reliably delivers fascinating drama. In Ave Maria, a family of Israeli settlers crashes their car on the grounds of the Sisters of Mercy convent in the West Bank. The five nuns who live in the convent have taken a vow of silence, whereas Sabbath considerations prevent the Israeli family — a couple and the man’s mother — from using the telephone. How a novice nun helps resolve the situation in order to get the family out of the West Bank is the source of the film’s graceful humor. The cinematography benefits from the omnipresent light that seems to shine on the isolated convent. Live action, drama, not rated, 15 minutes, in English, Arabic, and Hebrew with subtitles, 3 chiles.
In this nuanced drama, an Afghan-American woman begins work as an interpreter for the U.S. forces in war-torn Afghanistan. On her first day, in the throes of altitude sickness, she must walk 10 kilometers with her battalion to locate a bomb-maker. The man is found and is about to be arrested when his veiled wife goes into labor. The translator finds herself in a heart-stopping situation: She must help deliver the baby, who may no longer be alive. She knows the language, but she has quite a culture gap to bridge. Live action, drama, not rated, 25 minutes, in English and Dari with subtitles, 3 chiles.
EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY
Everything Will Be Okay keeps us guessing which way the story will turn. A divorced father takes his eight-year-old daughter, Lea, out for the weekend. All is seemingly normal, until we realize that he plans to take her out of the country. While dramas set in a war zone or regions of political conflict have their place, director Patrick Vollrath shows that a story set in the beating heart of ordinary life can be just as riveting. Lea’s confusion brings to the fore the innocence of children and how they can be devastatingly torn in the tug-of-war between parents. Lea just wants to get to the fair her father has promised, in order to go on the bumper-car ride 20 times. She has no idea that her father is getting her an “emergency passport” in order to whisk her off to Manila. Live action, drama, not rated, 30 minutes, in German with subtitles, 4 chiles.
A solitary bear peddles his mechanical diorama on the street. A passerby with a coin to spare can see, in his invention’s peephole, the story of a bear being taken forcibly from his home and made to work in a circus where he misses his wife and child. Made in Chile, Bear Story can be seen as a political allegory: Machines may allude to the impersonal political machinery under which individuals can easily get crushed. There is the spark of early Wallace and Gromit in this somber, but delightfully told, story.
Animation, drama, not rated, 11 minutes, 3.5 chiles.
WORLD OF TOMORROW
Cloning will play a significant part in the future, especially for those who are well- off and hope to live forever. The privileged will be able to retrieve data and memories from those ancestors they were cloned from. They will be able to download their consciousness to a “cube” and float it into space — an immortality of sorts. In such a landscape, Emily Prime, from the future, contacts a little girl, Emily — the grandmother, so to speak, from whom she was cloned. The minimalist animation leaves us with spare lines and triangles, and perhaps this is intended. The film is buoyed by stellar voice work from actors Julia Pott and Winona Mae. This is a second nomination for director Don Hertzfeldt, who was also nominated for his animated short, Rejected
(2000). The advice Emily Prime gives is solid, whether or not clones are involved: Don’t dwell on petty things. Live. Now is the envy of the dead.
Animation, drama, not rated, 17 minutes, 3.5 chiles.
LAST DAY OF FREEDOM
Last Day of Freedom is a gem of a documentary both in style and content. Directors Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman use bare-bones animation to tell this story in a surprisingly evocative way. Bill Babbitt, an African-American, decides to turn in his brother, Manny, a Vietnam vet who has committed a crime. Bill grapples with the consequences of his decision. He gave up his brother to the cops to do the right thing — and he believed his brother would receive treatment for PTSD — and then the establishment betrayed him.
During the trial, the prosecution went straight for the death penalty, although the cops had assured Bill that Manny would not die. There were no blacks on the jury. Manny’s court-appointed lawyer was drunk during vital proceedings that had an impact on whether or not he would get the death penalty. In 1982, Manny was sentenced to death. While in prison, he received a Purple Heart medal. He was put to death almost 20 years after his sentencing. This is a moving story because Manny is both a murderer and a victim. As boys, Manny and Bill used to look together for clams — that memory, and the desire to somehow return to it, indelibly haunts this film. Documentary, not rated, 32 minutes, 4 chiles.
▼ Oscar-nominated shorts
▼ Screenings from Friday, Jan. 29; see Page 61 for schedule
▼ The Screen, Santa Fe University of Art & Design, 1600 St. Michael’s Drive $10 (discounts available), 505- 473- 6494
Everything Will Be Okay
Last Day of Freedom
World of Tomorrow