Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The 2013 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action

ShortsHD has made available to interested filmgoers all of the Academy Award nominated short subject films. If you live in a major city you can see the films in a movie theater during the month of February and beginning on February 19, 2013 they will be available for viewing through Itunes download and Video on Demand. Visit for more information.

The 2013 nominees in the category of Live Action Short film are a varied bunch. There is poignant drama, steampunk inspired science fiction, a black comedy and two films which feature young boys in war torn countries. If I were a member of the Academy this is how I would rank this year's nominees. This is my personal opinion and does not reflect who might actual win the award.

5. Death of A Shadow- France and Belgium - 20 minutes. A soldier is killed during World War I. A mysterious collector captures the shadows of those who die for display in a bizarre art gallery. The soldier will regain his shadow's freedom when he captures 1000 shadows for the collector. He is driven by his love for a woman. When he discovers that she loves another man, his jealousy clouds his decision on whom to chose for his final capture. This film contains elements of science fiction, time travel and a bit of steampunk in its design element. A compelling little story that is just outmatched by the other films in this category.

4.Curfew - United States - 19 minutes. This black comedy is definitely not for everyone. A man is in the midst of committing suicide when he receives a phone call from his estranged sister begging him to baby-sit his niece. The afternoon with the sassy young girl briefly gives him the will to live. When his sister still berates him about the mistakes of his past he returns alone to his apartment and resumes his plan to die. When the phone rings again will he ignore it and die? The scenario is distasteful and the three main characters are not very likable  What redeems this film is the layers of the story. Learning what caused the estrangement and the growth of the friendship between uncle and niece save this film from being an arty mess.

3. Assad - South Africa and United States - 18 minutes. Assad is a young boy who yearns to join the older boys in his Somali village on their pirate raids. He is encouraged by an old fisherman to set his sights on being a fisherman instead. When soldiers invade the village, threaten his friends and steal the fish the old man gave Assad for his family's dinner, Assad is convinced that he is cursed. The fisherman suggests Assad go out fishing alone. What he discovers on his voyage and the prize he catches gives Assad the confidence that his curse is lifted. The entire cast, except for one, is comprised of Somali refugees and asylum seekers. This gives an authenticity to the story. The drama is lightened by the unexpected ending.

2. Buzkashi Boys - Afganistan and United States - 28 minutes. This taut drama set and filmed in Kabul is the tale of two boys. Rafi is the son of a blacksmith, Ahmad a homeless street urchin. The best friends play hooky and dream of playing the Afghan national sport - which is basically polo with a dead goat. When Rafi tells Ahmad other he will never become a Buzkashi player unless he gets a horse, the resultant challenge leads to tragedy a dose of reality. A gripping drama starring two amazing child actors.

1. Henry - Canada - 21 minutes. Henry is an elderly concert pianist dreaming of performing a duet with his violinist wife. A tale of Alzheimer's from the point-of-view of the patient, this gem of a film is poignant. It shows the ravages of the disease on the patient, his family and caregivers and illustrates the dream world of Henry' past. A beautiful gem of a film.

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