The Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film was first presented at the 5th Academy Awards in 1932. Paddle to the Sea was a nominee in this category one year and it still holds a special place in my heart. I saw it in kindergarten. Judging from this year’s selections, the category isn’t constrained by the country actually giving the award. Every film is represented by a different country and not one is from the U.S. This is usually a strong category but it’s a mixed bag this year with one really gripping film.
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?
FINLAND / 7MIN / Director: Selma Vilhunen
A mother in a panic tries to get her husband and two daughters ready in the morning for a wedding they are late for. The girls don Halloween costumes when their party dresses are discovered still in the wash. An amusing little comedy that is refreshingly succinct.
DENMARK / 23MIN / Director: Anders Walter
A young dying boy in a hospital learns about an imaginary land called Helium from a kindly hospital orderly. Tender story is whimsical tale with fanciful storytelling and magical elements. It’s also pretty sappy too so you‘ll either roll your eyes at the payoff, or sigh a big “Awwwwww!”.
Just Before Losing Everything
FRANCE / 30MIN / Director: Xavier Legrand
A boy supposedly on his way to school, is picked up by his mother. She proceeds to get her daughter from school as well who bids a tearful goodbye to some school friends. Both are driven to her place of employment instead. The only production in this group of five that is a truly gripping work that compels us to keep watching. It’s unclear just what exactly is happening and that keeps us interested as each new bit of information brings us closer to clarification. It’s a nailbiter.
That Wasn’t Me
SPAIN / 24MIN / Director: Esteban Crespo
3 European social workers are held up by child soldiers involved in some unnamed African conflict. This is a subject requiring a much deeper handling than this brief 24 minute film can give. Gratuitous without the necessary depth to make the violence meaningful.
The Voorman Problem
UNITED KINGDOM / 13MIN / Director: Mark Gill
Martin Freeman stars as psychiatrist that treats a prisoner Voorman (Tom Hollander), who believes he is a god. Amusing concept feels like it’s over before it even begins. Oh well. The interesting seed of an idea for a Twilight Zone episode.