The 2012 Oscar Nominated Short Films program opens Friday, February 10th, so people can see them before the 84th Academy Awards ceremony on February 26th. The list of Live Action Shorts has been whittled down to 5 films out of 107 contenders. The final selection, when seen back to back, is so diverse and inventive that trying to rate one against the other can be a headachy undertaking. Each film has its own brand of storytelling and distinct aesthetic, making the collection as a whole very entertaining, and frankly, enlightening. The Live Action Short Films nominees will be shown along with the Animated Short Films finalists.
“Pentecost” is by Irish director Peter McDonald. Damian Lynch (Scott Graham) is something he never wanted to be: an altar boy. His real passion is football; and the European Cup finals are imminent. After causing a minor disaster during his last service at Mass, his father bans him from all things football. Damian’s sin is not his lack of piety, but his lack of altar boy flair. In this church, Mass is as much a performance as any football game. However, Damian is given a chance to redeem himself when he is roped back in to serve at the next Mass—a big event led by the arch Bishop. If all goes well, he will regain his status as altar boy, and more importantly, he will be allowed to watch the European Cup. “Pentecost” is a satirical look into the inner workings of small-town Irish Catholic churches.
“Raju” is written and directed by German filmmaker Max Zähle. It’s a story of a young German couple, Jan (Wotan Wilke Mehring) and Sarah (Julia Richter) who arrive in Calcutta to adopt and take home a young Indian boy named Raju (Krish Gupta). While out for a day of sightseeing, Raju suddenly disappears.
Jan’s relentless search for the boy leads to a discovery that raises serious ethical questions for the would-be adoptive parents. Max Zahle creates an immersive experience that challenges our cultural assumptions.
“Time Freak” is written and directed by American filmmaker Andrew Bowler. Evan (John Conor Brooke) is searching for his roommate, Stillman (Michael Nathanson) who has been missing for three days. He finds him in a cavernous basement-like room, where he has been working obsessively on his new invention: a time machine.
As Evan presses him for more information, Stillman eventually confesses that he hasn’t gotten very far, time-wise. With “Time Freak,” Andrew Bowler gives us a hilarious look at how our grandest endeavors get bogged down by our own petty absurdities.
“The Shore” is written and directed by Irish filmmaker Terry George (Hotel Rwanda, In the Name of the Father). Joe (Ciarán Hinds) returns to Killough Ireland with his American born daughter Patricia (Kerry Condon) for the first time after 25 years of exile.
As Patricia learns about her father’s former life, she decides to help him mend broken connections with people he loves. Reflecting on the former conflicts of Northern Ireland, Terry George leavens his story with humor, irony, and a powerful sense of place.
“Tuba Atlantic” is a Norwegian film by writer Linn-Jeanethe Kyed and first-time director Hallvar Witzø. Oskar (Edvard Hægstad) is given six days to live. He is a cantankerous, seagull-hating misanthrope whose determination to die alone is thwarted by his Death Angel (Ingrid Viken)—a Christian girl, on a mission to guide Oskar through the death process. Oskar has only one wish before he dies: to contact his brother in America. But he is not trying to make a phone call or send a letter. In fact, he is not even sure if his brother is alive. Instead, he watches the wind, and waits for the right moment. Kyed and Witzø take quirky to a whole new level, illuminating the dusky tones of the Scandinavian shore with sudden sparks of oddball humor, and flashes of the surreal.
The Oscar Shorts program has grown increasingly popular since it was launched in 2005. This year’s films will be released by ShortsHD and Magnolia Pictures on February 10th. The films will also be available at the iTunes Store
More info is available at the ShortsHD site: http://theoscarshorts.shorts.tv/