ShortsHDT, the global Short Movie Channel in high definition (www.shorts.tv), working with Magnolia Pictures, will open "The Oscar® Nominated Short Films 2015" in theatres on Friday January 30, 2015. "The Oscar® Nominated Short Films" showcase the Live Action, Animation and Documentary nominees as three separate theatrical events. This will be the only opportunity for audiences to watch the nominated shorts prior to the 87th Academy Awards® ceremony on Sunday, February 22, 2015.
Oscar nominated shorts (live-action and animated) open Friday, January 30th at Landmark's Keystone Art Cinema. These are two feature-length programs, so separate admission is required. This is The Independent Critic's look at this year's Animated Short Nominees!
Marieke Blaauw's A Single Life is a cleverly Dutch short, and this one is seriously short at just over two minutes in running time, that will leave you both thinking and laughing. A woman receives a record, a delightful and spirited tune. The real kicker is that she discovers that when she moves the needle backward or forward, she can speed or slow down time. How this plays out is rather simple, yet thought-provoking with animation that is fluid and fun to watch.
If there's a film that should rival The Dam Keeper for this year's Oscar, it would be Daisy Jacobs's inventive and inspired The Bigger Picture, a film that weaves its way through the uneasiness of family dynamics while dealing with an aging parent.
It's difficult to describe Jacobs's animation, a poignant blending of stop-motion with chalk-like texturing that has a fluidity to it that is just absolutely captivating. The film's textures and perspectives are constantly changing, yet somehow it all adds up to both a beautifully animated film and an emotionally resonant one. The story itself feels realistic, focusing on two brothers with markedly different ways of coping. It's not surprising that it's a British film, given Jacobs's ability to find emotional truth and touches of humor, and it's not surprising that the film is at least modestly inspired by the director's own family's dealings with her ailing grandmother.
While I'm giving a slight nod to The Dam Keeper, I'd still be smiling of Jacobs took home the Oscar for this beautiful and meaningful film.
The Dam Keeper, an official selection of the 2014 Heartland Film Festival, is one of my favorite shorts from this year's festival.
The weird thing? I'm not exactly sure why.
Narrated by Dutch actor Lars Mikkelsen and co-written and directed by Robert Kondo and Duke Tsutsumi, The Dam Keeper isn't the kind of dazzling animated short that you would find in any American multiplex despite the fact that Kondo and Tsutsumi are both known for their art direction on such films as Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, Monsters University, and Ice Age. While those films are decidedly designed for mass consumption, the tale in The Dam Keeper is quieter and more involving yet no less entertaining.
The film is set in a desolate future where one town's survival is due solely to a large windmill dam that acts as a fan to keep out poisonous clouds. Despite being constantly bullied by classmates and facing an indifferent public, Pig, the dam's operator, works tirelessly to keep the sails spinning. When a new student, Fox, joins his class then everything begins to change.
The Dam Keeper is made up of over 8,000 paintings and is beautifully designed and drawn utilizing lush, broad hand-drawn strokes and an atmosphere that focuses more on substance and meaning than style. At a mere 18 minutes, The Dam Keeper is the kind of short film that starts out making you believe it's one then then veers towards its deeper purpose.
The film had its world premiere at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival and received the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Kids Audience Award at the New York International Children's Film Festival, and the Young People's Jury Award at TIFF Kids. While it's not in the running for one of Heartland's Grand Prizes, The Dam Keeper is one of those films that will stay with you long after its closing credits have rolled.
If you saw Disney's Big Hero 6, then you very likely saw this film play right before it. At 6 minutes without dialogue, Feast is either an essay on gluttony or an ode to life journeys and bachelorhood, etc. In the film, a man lures a starving puppy with a single french fry - thus begins a mutual journey of dietary bliss that lasts until the man finds a girlfriend and everything begins to change.
This is Disney, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the animation is beautiful, the story is heartfelt, and the Academy will be listening as usual. While it's never really surprising to see Disney win this category, for my money The Dam Keeper is a better, bolder, and more wholly satisfying film.
Director Torill Kove took home the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2006 for The Danish Poet, and this film is her third nomination in the category. "Me and My Moulton" tells the tale of two sisters putting up with the oddities of living with their modern architect parents.
This autobiographical short has a Norwegian sensibility about it that permeates every frame with colors that are at times bleak and at times bright. Essentially a tale about childhood and parenting and how parents can simultaneously inspire and disappoint their children, Me and My Moulton is a definite darkhorse to give Kove a second Oscar but it's a beautiful short and worthy nominee.
The 50/50 x 2020 Pledge
The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.