Os­car-nom­i­nated short films

A se­lec­tion of Os­car-nom­i­nated short films

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Priyanka Ku­mar


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 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.


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 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

Bear Story

Ave Maria

Ev­ery­thing Will Be Okay

Day One

Last Day of Free­dom

World of To­mor­row

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