With the Oscars little over three weeks away, it’s time to catch up with the movies nominated for the top awards—well, at least the most nominated ones anyway. In the coming week, I’ll post my annual 20 Movies to Watch Before the Oscars piece, in which I’ll include how and where to watch the nominated movies if you live in the South Florida area. If you can’t wait for my article and have about 17 hours to spare, there’s always the option of attending AMC annual Best Picture nominee marathon.
Now, one set of films that aren’t widely available are the nominees in the shorts categories (Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short). Casual watchers of the Oscar show like to dub them the “bathroom break” awards. If you like to get a head start on your Oscar pool, are a completist like me, or just want a novel date night idea, here’s something to whet your appetite. Magnolia Pictures in association with ShortHD will be bringing all 15 nominated shorts to more than 350 art house cinemas across the country, starting this weekend. If you live in the South Florida area, they’ll be playing at eight locations in the tri-county but for the best experience I highly recommend you catch it at the Miami Beach Cinematheque (Miami Beach), the Bill Cosford Cinema (Coral Gables), or either of the two Cinema Paradisos (Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale).
The 15 films, which run from between two and 40 minutes, will be split up into three programs – each representing a different category (live-action, animated, documentary). I’ve broken them down below by category, including each films’ synopsis:
Israel – France (39 mins)
English, Hebrew, Danish
Directors: Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun
Synopsis: Two strangers unexpectedly meet at an airport. He mistakenly assumes her to be his assigned driver. She, enchanted by the random encounter, does not hurry to prove him wrong.
BOOGALOO AND GRAHAM
UK (14 mins)
Director: Michael Lennox
Synopsis: Jamesy and Malachy are over the moon when their soft-hearted dad presents them with two baby chicks to care for. Raising their tiny charges, declaring themselves vegetarian and dreaming of running a chicken farm, the two boys are in for a shock when their parents announce that big changes are coming to the family.
BUTTER LAMP (LA LAMPE AU BEURRE DE YAK)
France-China (15 mins)
Director: Hu Wei
Synopsis: A young itinerant photographer and his assistant offer to photograph some Tibetan nomads in front of various backgrounds.
Switzerland (25 mins)
Swiss German, Dari
Director: Talkhon Hamzavi
Synopsis: A young Afghan immigrant travels to Zurich where she encounters a punk named Emily.
THE PHONE CALL
UK (21 mins)
Director: Mat Kirkby
Synopsis: The Phone Call follows Heather (Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins), a shy lady who works at a helpline call center. When she receives a phone call from a mystery man (Oscar winner Jim Broadbent) she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever.
A SINGLE LIFE
The Netherlands (2 mins)
Directors: Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen
Synopsis: When playing a mysterious vinyl single, Pia is suddenly able to travel through her life.
USA (6 mins)
Director: Patrick Osborne
Synopsis: Feast is the story of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share.
ME AND MY MOULTON
Canada – Norway (14 mins)
Director: Torill Kove
Synopsis: One summer in mid-’60s Norway, a seven-year-old girl asks her parents if she and her sisters can have a bicycle. Me and My Moulton provides a glimpse of its young protagonist’s thoughts as she struggles with her sense that her family is a little out of sync with what she perceives as “normal.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE
UK (7 mins)
Director: Daisy Jacobs
Synopsis: ‘You want to put her in a home; you tell her; tell her now!’ hisses one brother to the other. But Mother won’t go, and their own lives unravel as she clings on. Innovative life-size animated characters tell the stark and darkly humorous tale of caring for an elderly parent.
THE DAM KEEPER
USA (18 mins)
Directors: Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
Synopsis: Set in a desolate future, one small town’s survival is solely due to a large windmill dam that acts as a fan to keep out poisonous clouds. Despite bullying from classmates and an indifferent public, the dam’s operator, Pig, works tirelessly to keep the sails spinning in order to protect the town. When a new student, Fox, joins Pig’s class, everything begins to change.
CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1
USA (40 mins)
Director: Ellen Goosenberg Kent
Synopsis: The timely documentary Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 spotlights the traumas endured by America’s veterans, as seen through the work of the hotline’s trained responders, who provide immediate intervention and support in hopes of saving the lives of service members.
Poland (40 mins)
Director: Aneta Kopacz
Synopsis: With great visual poetry, Joanna portrays the simple and meaningful moments in the life of her family. Diagnosed with an untreatable illness, Joanna promises her son that she will do her best to live for as long as possible. It is a story of close relationships, tenderness, love and thoughtfulness.
Poland (27 mins)
Director: Tomasz Śliwiński
Synopsis: The film is a personal statement of the director and his wife, who have to deal with a very rare and incurable disease of their newborn child – the Ondine’s Curse (also known as CCHS, congenital central hypoventilation syndrome). People affected with this disease stop breathing during sleep and require lifetime mechanical ventilation on a ventilator.
THE REAPER (LA PARKA)
Mexico (29 mins)
Director: Gabriel Serra Argüello
Synopsis: Efrain, known as the Reaper, has worked at a slaughterhouse for 25 years. We will discover his deep relationship with death and his struggle to live.
USA (20 mins)
Director: J. Christian Jensen
Synopsis: Thousands of souls flock to America’s Northern Plains seeking work in the oil fields. White Earth is the tale of an oil boom seen through unexpected eyes. Three children and an immigrant mother brave a cruel winter and explore themes of innocence, home and the American Dream.
Click on the links below for tickets and showtimes:
The Miami Beach Cinematheque (Now playing the Animated and Live Action programs)
Cosford Cinema (Animated, Live Action and Documentary programs start February 6)
Cinema Paradiso Hollywood (Animated, Live Action and Documentary programs start February 13)
Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale (Animated, Live Action and Documentary programs start February 20)
For more information on each of the shorts, including clips from each film, visit the official Oscar shorts website.