Of the twenty-four categories, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences devotes three categories to honor achievement in a short subject: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action. Submissions must be less than 40 minutes in length and have held a seven-day theatrical run in either Los Angeles County or the Borough of Manhattan during the eligibility period (October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2013 for Animation and Live Action, September 1, 2012 – August 31, 2013 for Documentary). The Academy has presented an Oscar for Live Action Short Film since 1932.
Shorts HD TV have done an excellent job making these shorts more and more available to the movie going public. Each category collects and exhibits all five nominees for the price of one feature-length movie. If a trip to the theater doesn’t excite you, then all will be available via iTunes, Amazon Instant, Xfinty, VOD, and the usual rental suspects. Click here to see where you can find the nominated short subjects in theater near you and here for download and streaming options.
Helium – Alfred (Pelle Falk Krusbæk) is a young boy dying in a hospital. Enzo (Casper Crump) is the new maid, and what he lacks in grace and composure, he makes up with empathy and fantastic story-telling abilities. Alfred wants to know if he will go to Heaven when he dies, but Enzo gives him a much more personal option, Helium. Helium is a wonderful world with floating homes where Alfred will no longer feel sick and can play soccer all day long. When Alfred’s condition worsens, Enzo utilizes the help of a doctor (Marijana Jankovic) to finish his story of Helium. This Danish short is poised to tug at your heartstrings and does so without an ounce of regret.
Directed By: Anders Walter Written By: Anders Walter & Christian Gamst Miller-Harris Running Time: 23 minutes
The Voorman Problem – Doctor Williams (Martin Freeman) is called into a maximum-security prison to speak with Voorman (Tom Hollander), a prisoner who believes himself to be God. If Doctor Williams can prove that Voorman is insane, then he will be moved to an asylum. The problem is that Voorman might not be insane. Voorman might actually be God. Doctor Williams has a hard time accepting that, but he’ll have a lot of time to think it over while he spends the rest of his life in solitary confinement. Whoops, maybe he was crazy the whole time. This UK short has little to offer outside of the initial enjoyment of the twist, but it is enjoyable none-the-less.
Directed By: Mark Gill Written By: Baldwin Li & Mark Gill based on the novel “number9dream” by David Mitchell Running Time: 13 minutes
Just Before Losing Everything – Julien (Miljan Chatelain) is a ten-year-old boy who ditches school to hang out under a bridge. A car pulls up, honks twice and Julien gets in. A way down the road, Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux) gives a very tearful goodbye to her boyfriend before getting in the car. The driver is Miriam (Léa Drucker) and these are her children. Today is the day that they finally break free from the terror and abuse reigned upon them from Antoine (Denis Ménochet) and it’s going to take a village for a wife to flee this husband. This is a powerful French film that addresses a very serious subject. Watch how all the women watch Miriam on this day, their faces are screwed with pain, fear, and pity. Watch how all the customers of a supermarket turn and watch Miriam and her children walk. Do they watch because they know, or because Miriam feels like everyone is watching her? A nail-bitter from moment one, especially when Antoine happens to show up at work looking for the checkbook. The other shorts are good, but this one is for keeps.
Written & Directed By: Xavier Legrand Running Time: 29 minutes
That Wasn’t Me – Three doctors are traveling through a non-descript African war zone. They are taken hostage, two are executed, one is raped, and then another militia enters the picture and kills the first guerillas. The surviving doctor takes her executioner hostage and forces him to help her back to the city. Years later, the solider recounts the horrors of his past for an auditorium of students.
Of all the shorts, this one is the most problematic in tone (jumping between tense drama, atrocity and action warfare) and exhibits a terrible sense of xenophobia. We are led to believe that the woman who witnesses the execution of her friend and lover at the hands of this youth would stay by him as he cleaned up and reformed his life. What happened between that tragic day and the day he gave this talk to the students is where the story lies. A missed opportunity.
Written & Directed By: Esteban Crespo Running Time: 20 minutes
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? – A lovely Finnish short about a family that just doesn’t have it together. They overslept by two hours for a wedding, the kid’s (Ranja Omaheimo & Ella Toivoniemi) dresses are still in the washer, and they end up going with their Halloween costumes. Mom (Joanna Haartti) tears her hose and spills coffee on Dad’s (Santtu Karvonen) shirt and then they can’t find the present. They decide a potted plant will do in a pinch, but they miss the train to the church and have to run. And would you believe that they mixed up the dates? Some people have all the luck. Slight, but fun. Loads of fun.