OSCAR SHORTS 2020

The Oscar shorts are comprised of three separate programs - animation, live action and documentary.  Each is separate admission.   

These are a delight to watch with something new and unexpected around every corner.  The program runs from January the 31st and will be screened exclusively at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto,

 

Listed are the titles (including country and running times) in each program and below that are capsule review of selected shorts. 

ANIMATED SHORTS (Running Time: 83 minutes)

Hair Love – Matthew A. Cherry, USA, 7 min.

Dcera (Daughter) – Daria Kashcheeva, Czech Republic, 15 min.

Memorable – Bruno Collet, France, 12 min.

Sister – Siqi Song, China/USA, 8 min.

Kitbull – Rosana Sullivan, USA, 9 min.

PLUS A SELECTION OF ADDITIONAL ANIMATED SHORTS:

Henrietta Bulkowski – USA, 16 min. (featuring the voices of Chris Cooper and Ann Dowd!)

The Bird and the Whale – Ireland, 6 min.

Hors Piste – France, 5 min.


LIVE ACTION SHORTS (Running Time: 104 minutes)

A Sister – Delphine Girard, Belgium, 16 min.

Brotherhood – Meryan Joobeur, Tunisia, 25 min.

The Neighbors’ Window – Marshall Curry, USA, 20 min.

Saria – Bryan Buckley, USA, 23 min.

Nefta Football Club – Yves Piat, Tunisia/France, 17 min.

CAPSULE REVIEWS OF SELECTED SHORTS

(More reviews will be added on this site as they are seen by me…)

OSCAR SHORTS - LIVE ACTION

BROTHERHOOD (Canada/Tunisia 2018) ***

Directed by Meryam Joobeur

The short film, BROTHERHOOD is the result of the TIFF talent lab in 2016.  Set in rural Tunisia, Mohamed is a hardened shepherd living with his wife and one of his sons.  The family ties are put to the test when the eldest son Malik returns home after a long journey in Syria with a mysterious new wife.  The film centres on the tension between father and son that rises over three days until reaching a breaking point.  Not a bad film that reveals the hardship of farming, but there are too many issues, besides the one mentioned brought up that remain unresolved.  This is likely the reason a full length feature based on the identical premise is in the making.

MEMORABLE (France 2019) ***
Directed by Bruno Collet

The most impressive of all the animated shorts in terms of animation MEMORABLE deals with a painter’s dementia.  The painter looks a little like Van Gogh, which makes one wonder if this is the inspiration of Collet’s film.  As the painter, Louis’ dementia worsens, he experiences strange events with his world slowly mutating with furniture, objects and people losing their realism. Unfortunately the film lacks a solid conclusion despite its impressive look at dementia.

NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB (Tunisia/France 2018) ***

Directed by Yves Piat

A playful comedy centring on two young brothers, one naive and the other not so.  They come across a donkey in the desert.  Strangely, the animal is wearing headphones over its ears and carrying packets of what the younger brother thinks is laundry detergent.  The elder one knows better but his decision to keep the info from his brother pays dearly.  Not really a fable with a message, but the short is a pleasant and light watch.

UNE SOEUR (A SISTER) (Belgium 2018) ****

Directed by Delphine Girard

Born in French Canada and moved to Belgium, director Delphine Girard has made an impressive short thriller that is my vote for BEST short in the live-action section.  The film begins with a woman calling her sister asking about her daughter.  But it is not what it seems as the call is picked by by emergency services.  It appears that the woman has being taken against her will in a car by a man on a date and she is desperately reaching out for help.  At times brilliant, chilling and startling, UNE SEOUR (filmed in French) packs quite the punch. The film also pays tribute to the to operators on the emergency line services who perform a marvellous but thankless job.

OSCAR SHORTS - ANIMATION

HAIR LOVE (USA 2019) **

Directed by Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith

An African American tale of a daughter and her hair or is it of a daughter and a father.  The girl is obsessed with her hair, undecided on what hair style to adopt.  Her father helps her in what appears to be tear-jerker tale of father/daughter relationship.  The short gets even more sappy when they visit their mother at the end.  Nothing really exceptional about this animated short except for the extreme sappiness.

KITBULL (USA 2019) ***
Directed by Rosana Sullivan

Director Sullivan has worked on Pixar-Disney’s famous box-office success, COCO.  Hr short KITBULL is a combination of the words pitfall and kitten.  The film reveals an unlikely connection that spark between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and an abused pit bull.  At first apprehensive, they eventually experience friendship for the first time.  Touching and well-animated, as expected from someone who has worked and studies at Disney’s Pixar.

MEMORABLE (France 2019) ***
Directed by Bruno Collet

The most impressive of all the animated shorts in terms of animation MEMORABLE deals with a painter’s dementia.  The painter looks a little like Van Gogh, which makes one wonder if this is the inspiration of Collet’s film.  As the painter, Louis’ dementia worsens, he experiences strange events with his world slowly mutating with furniture, objects and

people losing their realism. Unfortunately the film lacks a solid conclusion despite its impressive look at dementia.

SISTER (MAI-MAI) (USA/China 2018) ****

Directed by Siqi Song

This short gets my vote for the BEST in this section - being clever, imaginative and current in social issues.  The film tackles the morality of China’s one-child family policy, something necessary to curb China’s growing population but a policy that comes with strong moralissues.  The Mandarin title is ‘younger sister’ and tells, in flashback of a man’s growing up with what seems to be his annoying younger sister.  Revealing more of the story would only spoil it for the surprise.

OSCAR SHORTS - DOCUMENTARY

This section is my favourite and every year, showcases many stories that need be told.  They are short, to the point and often riveting filmmaking.

IN THE ABSENCE (South Korea 2018) ***1/2

Directed by Yi Seung-Jun

This accomplished documentary by director Yi, who has already several shorts including a full length feature doc under his belt tells of the aftermath of a South Korean disaster - the sinking of the passenger Sewol ferry.  The ferry sank in 2014 resulting in the loss of over 300 lives including many school children.  Through archive footage and interviews of the survivors and rescuers, the mishandling of the disaster is revealed as clearly mishandled, the authorities more concerned about red tape and not looking bad rather than saving the lives of the passengers.  The relatives of the deceased are shown demanding answers what is a moving and revealing doc.

WALK, RUN, CHA-CHA (USA 2019) ****

Directed by Laura Nix 

This short gets my vote for BEST in the documentary section.  Already known for her award winning feature doc INVENTING TOMORROW, WALK RUN CHA-CHA shows the director in lighter, more playful mode.  The short opens with a cha-cha dance instruction.  It is simply grand to watch a room full of older adults move in unison to the cha-cha or any other dance moves for that matter.  The camera then settles on an elderly couple Paul and Millie.  The two fell in love as teens way back when in Vietnam and now they they reunite their love on the dance floor.  If the story sounds sappy, it nonetheless works resulting in a truly charming love story set in dance.  And it is all true!

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