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The Independent Critic

  • Ave Maria
    Director: Basil Khalil
    Running Time: 14:13
  • Day One
    Director: Henry Hughes
    Running Time: 25 Mins.
  • Alles Wird Gut ("Everything Will be Okay")
    Director: Patrick Vollrath
    Running Time: 30 Mins.
  • Shok ("Friend")
    Director: Jamie Donoughue
    Running Time: 21:05
  • Stutterer
    Director: Benjamin Cleary
    Running Time: 13 Mins.

     
 Oscar Nominated Short Films - Live Action  

For over a decade, ShortsHD has proudly brought the Oscar® Nominated Short Films to audiences across the globe. This exclusive release features the year's most spectacular short films across Live Action, Animation and Documentary, and for a limited time is available to watch on the big screen.The 2016 Oscar® Nominated Short Films will be released in theatres on January 29th, giving you the opportunity to see the nominated films before the Oscar® Awards ceremony on February 28th.

In addition to the theatrical release, the nominated Live Action and Animation short films will also be available to buy online and on VOD/Pay Per View Platforms (AT&T, DirecTV, Vubiquity, InDemand, COMCAST, Cable Vision, XBOX, Sony, Century Link, Vimeo, Frontier & Google Fiber) so you can continue to enjoy them long after the winning envelopes have been opened.


A joint Palestine/Germany/France effort from director Basil Khalil, Ave Maria centers around five Palestinian nuns living in the West Bank wilderness whose serenity is interrupted by the arrival at their doorstep of a family of Israeli settlers in a broken down car just as the Sabbath comes into effect. The nuns, living under a vow of silence, must find a way to work cooperatively with their unsettled settlers if they are to help them.

Khalil has taken a somewhat familiar concept, the fragile weaving together of Palestinians and Israelis, and turned it into a unique and vibrant film filled with both reverence and light touches of humor and humanity. Eric Mizrahi's lensing bathes the film in a sort of kitschy, off-kilter beauty that feels like Sister Act meets Brady Bunch meets 70's western. There's a young novitiate who is a dead ringer for Sister Act's Wendy Makkena and who has her innocence and spirit, as well. The end result is a short film that is simple yet sacred, reverent yet funny and filled with characters who deserve more than 15 minutes of your time.

Grade: B+

On the heels of a painful divorce, an Afghani-American joins the U.S. military as an interpreter and is sent to Afghanistan. On her first mission, she accompanies troops pursuing a bomb maker and must bridge the gender and culture gap when the man's pregnant wife goes into labor. Director by Henry Hughes, Day One is inspired by a true story and actually feels like a true story thanks to the authentic, centered performance by Layla Alizada. Kee Kyung's lensing is jarring and unpredictable, while Omar Fadel's original music companions the film quite nicely. Day One is an effective, meaningful 25-minute short film though it didn't linger in my psyche' as did some of the other nominated shorts this year.

Grade: B

If I were to pick a favorite among this year's nominees, it would likely be the Austrian/German Alles Wird Gut ("Everything Will be Okay"), a beautifully produced, acted and constructed film that manages to captivate even as writer/director Patrick Vollrath's story begins to reveal itself. By far the best acted of this year's nominees, Alles Wird Gut is a riveting drama involving a father, Michael (Simon Schwarz), who arrives to pick up his daughter Lea (Julia Pointner) for what appears to be their usual weekend together. As the 30-minute short slowly unfolds, it becomes obvious that this weekend is not any other weekend.

Alles Wird Gut captures the messiness of family in a way that is deceptively simple. You believe you know where everything is going, yet you are only partially right as Vollrath never lets things be as obvious as they really seem. Schwarz gives a performance that is both unhinged yet sympathetic. It would be interesting to experience how this film plays in different countries as my American mind went through several possible conclusions even as the story was still unfolding. As the young girl, Julia Pointner gives an aching, heartfelt performance that helps to make the film an odds-on favorite to capture the golden statuette.

Grade: A

Written and directed by Jamie Donoughue, Shok continues this year's Oscar trend toward story-driven short films amongst the live-action shorts. A UK/Kosovo joint effort, Shok follows two boys living in Kosovo under the newly formed Serbian government. The story, not surprisingly, is about much more than simply the wartime in which it is set. While Donoughue certainly addresses war and ethnic cleansing, but somehow manages to make the film a much more intimate, personal one that examines friendship and trust and the fragility of human relationships. While I give a slight edge to Alles Wird Gut, a Shok win wouldn't be exactly, well, shocking.

Grade: A-

Each year, it seems as if Indy's own Heartland Film Festival manages to land one of its official selections or winners amongst the short film Oscar nominees. This year is no exception. Stutterer seems practically tailor-made for Indy's Heartland Film Festival and this tearjerker certainly shouldn't be dismissed as a potential award-winner. The story itself is rather simple - a guy who stutters is nervous about meeting a girl he's known only online for six months. Written and directed by Benjamin Cleary, Stutterer is a spirited and emotionally honest film with a nearly perfect ending and a delightful journey to get there. I'd call Stutterer this year's dark horse nominee. While the Academy has a tendency to pick universal, socially aware shorts as winners, it's hard to deny the entertainment value and beautiful story behind this gem of a film.

Grade: A-

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  

    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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