Oscar Shorts | Live

Parveneh
ParvanehA young Afghan girl recently arriving in Switzerland has a problem. She needs to send money back home but her ID is not valid. She asks for help from a young Swiss girl with problems of her own. Together they wind up stumbling their way to a solution and realize kindness transcends cultural and language barriers. This is a dialed-down sentimental film which is well-acted and sends a good message, however I had some trouble with two aspects. The first being the how the two girls came together, it seemed hurried and a bit unrealistic. Secondly, there was little tension, so the resolution of the problem was like being smacked with a feather.

The Swiss girl walks away with the Afghan girl’s hijab and the Afghan girl walks away with the Swiss girl’s pink scarf. Close scene.

Butter Lamp
butterThis Tibetan Language film has a minimalist plot and strikes your funny bone at the oddest of angles. Groups of Tibetans are placed in front of  large cloth scenes ranging from  beaches to Disneyland, none of which are in Tibet. The ensemble preparations as the photographers stage scene after scene is just so offbeat and real, you can’t help but smile and occasionally laugh out loud. In the end the last cloth scene is rolled up and the setting revealed – its a space right in front of a freeway overpass construction site.

I liked this one but I don’t have a good reason!

ayaAya
Israeli films are not typically known for humour, however this one may change the Israeli film industry’s image.

At Tel Aviv’s airport a driver is called away to attend to his illegally parked car, handing his sign to a woman standing nearby. When the driver’s passenger arrives, he mistakes her for his driver, understandably. The woman drives him to Jerusalem taking advantage of the chance encounter. During the drive the film plays on a unspoken spark between the two. In its brief 39 minutes Aya covers, quite convincingly and with some hilarious dialogue,  a human need to be heard.

The Phone Call
For me, this UK entry was the best dramatic entry from the shorts. A understated woman working in a crisis center receives a phone call from a man who has juphonest taken an overdose of antidepressants. Over the next 20 minutes, you get to know the caller and the crisis center worker as he explains his reasons and she tries to talk him into saving his own life.

The cinematography is situationally brilliant. You never see the caller, only the interior of the room from where he places the call; tight zooms on a clock, pictures and artifacts of his life. On the other end, at the crisis center, the camera switches  between the worker’s watch and her facial expressions as she desperately tries to unearth his location; she knows she only has so much time before its too late.

This is a tense and beautifully composed piece. It ends on a note that is neither depressing nor uplifting, just a nod to the thought that life is a cycle – some leave, some enter, life continues.

Boogaloo and Graham
Like Israel, I don’t expect a comedy from Northern Ireland, but Boogaloo and Graham, for me, was the best comedy from the shorts.

bandgDad brings home a couple of newborn chicks for his two sons, they become completely enamored of their new pets. As the chicks grow, they walk them on leashes, bathe them and basically treat them like family. Mom, who never really wanted pet chickens, becomes pregnant and uses that as a edict to turn the pets into dinner. But then, something unexpected happens. Sure, the chickens are spared but how that comes to pass is simply hilarious and most of the credit goes to the acting from the two boys playing the sons and some well-thought out dialogue.

This was an enjoyable shorts collection but no specific entry screams winner. If I had to choose today, I would either go with Boogaloo or Phone Call.

 

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