2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 2 of 3)

ShortsTV has made the Oscar-nominated short films (animated, live-action, documentary) available to audiences since 2006. The 17th-annual theatrical rollout of films nominated in the live-action, animated, and documentary short categories begins February 25. To learn more about the participating theaters and how to purchase tickets, visit the website here. The program will play in theaters only for the first four weeks. They then will be released to VOD via iTunes, Amazon, Verizon, and Google Play beginning March 22.

LIVE-ACTION

American singer Nina Simone once said, “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” So if aliens wanted to understand the human experience through the Oscar-nominated live-action shorts this year, they would have to conclude that life on planet earth is pretty awful. That’s not to say there isn’t some interesting work here, but every single one is blighted by misery. As a personal challenge, I tried to list them in order of enjoyability.

PLEASE HOLD
USA | 19 MIN | 2020
DIRECTOR: KD DAVILA

In the near future, a young man is informed by his phone that he is under arrest. A police drone apprehends him without explanation. He’s brought to a holding facility using a fully automated system without a human being in sight. This portrait of an American justice system gone wrong takes the frustrating experience of navigating a computerized phone-system maze to its horrific extreme. A perfectly realized idea is masterfully executed. I guess I should watch the British anthology series Black Mirror (itself based on The Twilight Zone) because I’m told this melding of science fiction technology and a dystopian society is like an episode of the TV show. I was captivated throughout. This is director Kristen (K.D) Davila’s directorial debut.

ON MY MIND
DENMARK | 18 MIN | 2021
DIRECTOR: MARTIN STRANGE-HANSEN

A forlorn chap goes for a walk and winds up in a bar. He orders a quadruple pour of whiskey. As he’s about to leave, he spies a microphone. “Is that…karaoke?” he asks. This 18 minute short is all set up which unnecessarily draws out a simple idea. He wants a recording of himself singing the classic “Always on My Mind” for his wife Trine. The story is pretty lethargic, but it admittedly builds to a touching conclusion in the last 3 minutes. The somewhat clumsy execution feels like the work of a student filmmaker. However Danish director Martin Strange-Hansen won in this category for This Charming Man back in 2003.

ALA KACHUU – TAKE AND RUN
SWITZERLAND | 38 MIN | 2020
DIRECTOR: MARIA BRENDLE

The Academy adores films that highlight “barbaric behavior that is the normal practice of a certain country.” They usually appear in the “Documentary Short” category, but this Live Action short continues the perpetual tradition. 19-year-old Sezim wants to study in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek through a college scholarship. However, her plans are thwarted when she is forcibly kidnapped by a group of young men and taken to the hinterland. There, she is forced to marry a stranger against her will. If she refuses she will become a social pariah. Sezim is tormented by the traditions of Kyrgyz culture. She desperately seeks a way out. “Ala kachuu” is a form of bride kidnapping. Sources suggest that currently a third of brides are taken against their will in Kyrgyzstan. My respect if you can pinpoint that country on a blank map. This admirably exists to highlight an appalling practice, but it’s a chore to watch. The extreme length doesn’t help. If it were 2 minutes longer, this 38 minute “short” would have to compete as a feature.

THE LONG GOODBYE
UK | 12 MIN | 2020
DIRECTOR: ANEIL KARIA

Islamophobia in a post-Brexit UK is the topic at hand. Riz and his family are in the middle of preparing a wedding celebration when a far-right rally arrives on their doorstep. After they shockingly kill everyone in his life, he starts beatboxing. It’s an odd development until you realize that The Long Goodbye is also the name of actor and rapper Riz Ahmed’s second album. This long-form music video of sorts is a collaboration with director Aneil Karia. A political statement with a raw, brutal, and depressing view of contemporary British society. Racism is quickly becoming the topic to win in this category. Skin and Two Distant Strangers – the respective winners in 2019 and 2021 — both focused on the subject. If current predictions hold, this frontrunner will also take home the gold.

THE DRESS
POLAND | 30 MIN | 2020
DIRECTOR: TADEUSZ ŁYSIAK

Julia is a lonely maid in a Polish motel who just wants to be normal. As truck drivers come and go, she meets a handsome fellow who becomes the object of her desires. He likewise expresses an interest in taking her out on a date. She now must find a nice dress that will fit her. The 30 minute short has moments of poetic beauty. Given the setup, I suspected this would be a poignant tale. It’s not. Unpredictability can be an asset. Still, it’s hard to award points for upending expectations when a development is so disturbing it destroys any initial feelings of goodwill. The portrayal of an abusive act is hard to watch. Of all the shorts, this epitomizes what critics have derided as “misery porn.” Actress Anna Dzieduszycka is a charismatic presence in the lead, but she deserves a better film.

02-19-22

6 Responses to “2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 2 of 3)”

  1. The first two listed were my faves. The other three were meh. “ Please hold” was interesting and different. “On my mind” was a little predictable, but I fell for the touching ending. I like Riz, but I did not like his short, at all. Or maybe,!I just didn’t get it. The other two had moments but were disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, you’re not kidding. All of these sound really heavy and depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eric Robert Wilkinson Says:

    Black mirror is extremely hit and miss (as is an anthologys wont) but so much is so good its worth a watch

    Liked by 1 person

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