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 Live-Action Short Nominees!
An Israeli entry, Aya centers around a young woman, Aya (Sarah Adler), who is asked to temporarily hold a sign for a soon to be airport arrival, Mr. Overby (Ulrich Thomsen). She agrees, but takes it a step further after the man assumes that she is, in fact, his driver.
She doesn't bother to correct him and on we go. Adler, perhaps known to audiences for Jellyfish, gives a delightful low-key performance as Aya, while Thomsen, matches her note for note. As they begin to drive, she tells him that she has a confession but it won't be what you expect. Eventually, things will become more readily apparent yet this chance encounter has already become something extra special.
Co-directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, Aya is an authentic, honest, and intimate short film that captured the Israeli Academy Award for Best Short Film. At 39 minutes, Aya is one of the longer shorts this year but it's also one of the most enchanting.
With a wonderfully retro vibe, Michael Lennox's Boogaloo and Graham is a charming film about two young lads, Jamesy and Malachy, growing up during the height of troubles in Northern Ireland. Gifted with two baby chicks, I'll let you guess their names, grow into the chickens that they are meant to be. After their mother's third pregnancy, she decides that these pet chickens are destined to become dinner.
How everything plays out is much of the fun in this 14-minute short film that kicks it off beautifully with an old Frankie Lymon tune and never lets up on the charm. While Boogaloo and Graham isn't my favorite among this year's nominees, it's a charming and beautifully shot film that is also nominated for Best Short Film at this year's BAFTA Awards.
Among the nominees for the 2015 best live-action short Oscar, Hu Wei's Butter Lamp has already won a slew of festival awards and is capturing the hearts of audiences worldwide with its unique, hearfelt, and inspired presentation that simply must leave a smile on your face after you've watched it.
The 15-minute short film centers around a young itinerant photographer and his assistant who convince Tibetan nomads to allow themselves to be photographed in front of various backgrounds.
That's it. Seriously.
You know what? It's amazing.
Butter Lamp has been accurately described as poetic and meditative and, indeed, it is very much these things. The film possesses a joy-filled simplicity, a serenity, and an almost awe-inspiring innocence that is simply breathtaking from its opening frames until its very end. Hu Wei, born in Bejing and now dividing his time between Beijing and Paris, has crossed cultures and timelines within the short span of a 15-minute short film that captures these Tibetan nomads, played by actual Tibetan nomads, in a way I'm not sure I've ever actually seen on the big screen.
Jean Legrand and Stephane Degieau's lensing is intimate yet universal, while the characters that Wei has chosen to portray are uniformly compelling and nothing short of mesmerizing. Wisely, Wei avoids any unnecessary distractions in what is only his third short film. After watching this film, I'm grateful to learn that Wei is already hard at work on his very first feature film.
With over 200 film festival appearances and 70 festival awards, Butter Lamp sheds light on culture in a way that is simple yet extraordinary. With the power of the images that unfold, Butter Lamp creates a road to better understanding.
Writer/director Talkhon Hamzavi's Parvaneh puts a remarkably human face on the issue of immigration as it follows a young Afghani refugee, Parvaneh (Nissa Kashani), as she arrives at a transit center in the Swiss Alps. Desperate to get some money sent back to her mother, the young girl meets nothing but indifference until she encounters a local girl (Cheryl Graf) who seemingly eyes an opportunity to take advantage of her desperation. However, when the two don't make it back to the money exchange in time, Parvaneh's invited to stay and go to a party. Suddenly, the two seemingly different cultures begin to find common ground and we're left with a lovely and memorable film about looking beneath the surface and getting past that initial impression.
If you find yourself ever wondering why a good number of British actors tend to be much better actors than their American counterparts, and I believe that to be true, you need only look at a film like Mat Kirkby's The Phone Call, a 20-minute short film starring Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins as Heather, a shy young woman who works at a helpline call center who receives a phone call from a mystery man (Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent) and has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever.
There you have it.
One short film. Two critically acclaimed performers. Why? Who knows? Maybe they knew Kirby? Maybe they had a day off? Maybe Kirkby's secretly a millionaire who could simply afford them? Whatever the reason, it seems relatively common for British actors and actresses to devote themselves to the craft of acting whether that craft takes them into stage work, short films, theatrical releases, or any number of other outlets. I mean, sure, that happens here in the United States but not with near the frequency.
Winner of a slew of film festival awards including Best Narrative Short at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, the Silver Dragon for Best Fiction Short at the Krakow Film Festival, Audience Award for Best British Short at the Leeds International Film Festival, and a host of others, The Phone Call is driven by its two powerhouse performances from Hawkins, who is nothing short of stunning here, and Broadbent, whose vocal work alone far surpasses a good majority of the megaplex performances that I've seen over the past year.
Despite both being veterans of Mike Leigh films, Broadbent and Hawkins had never worked together before gathering for this film that was shot only a couple weeks after Hawkins wrapped up her work on Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. I find myself sometimes having to remember what Hawkins actually looks like in real life, because she so completely absorbs herself into her characters that I frequently forget where Hawkins ends and the character begins. This is the case here as Hawkins completely embodies the soul of a young, shy woman whose presence becomes more and more mesmerizing and unforgettable as the story winds its way around. The same is true for Broadbent, though I suppose on a certain level he's given just a tad less to do than is Hawkins.
The film's production quality is terrific, though it will be interesting to see what kind of reception the film receives at Indy's Heartland Film Festival, a festival that has in the past been marked by positive and inspiring films yet has of late broadened the definition of what inspires and changes by including more and more films with edgier qualities about them.
Easily one of my favorite shorts from the 2014 Heartland Film Festival, The Phone Call is a deeply felt and emotionally unforgettable 20 minute short that will stay with you long after you've left the theater.