2017 Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts
In many cities, including mine, audiences can see the 2017 Oscar nominated shorts (live action, documentary and animated). In the time it normally takes to see a regular movie, you can see the 5 nominated films back to back. It’s a great way to see these films. I usually watch the Live Action Shorts and skip the others although I might try to get to the documentaries this year. I found the Live Action Shorts to be more upbeat this go around than in previous years where it seemed like the first movie was like Manchester by the Sea and then got progressively more depressing! I was pleasantly surprised by the 2017 group. This year’s films:
Enemis Interieurs (French)
This film is very relevant to what is happening around the world right now. A Muslim man (Hassam Ghancy) born in Algiers and raised in France is attempting to get French Citizenship. He is in a dimly light immigration room which almost looks like an interrogation room. His “interviewer” is at times aggressive, hostile and calm and watching the interplay between these two men as the conversation goes from cordial to hostile with the introduction of religion and terrorism into the discussion.
Despite the fact that both men are French and have spent their entire lives in that country (Algiers was a French Colony at the time of Ghancy’s birth), history and politics have created a gulf between them and one is now in control of the other’s fate. You can’t help but watch this film and think about how there are likely similar interviews going on across America every hour of every day. It is a sobering 30 minutes.
Sing is about a young girl coming to a new school that has a famous children’s choir. The shy Zsofi loves to sing and joins the choir. She also makes friends with another girl in the choir (Liza) who is extremely popular. The film explores the themes of power and corruption in the apparently uber competitive world of elementary school choirs. Sing has a nice twist at the end as the children deal with the choir’s dark secret of success in an innovative and creative way making the audience smile. It is a story of the little guy standing up to oppression and the power of the underdog. Along the way, there is some great singing and the two young girls who star in it are mesmerizing.
Silent Nights (Denmark)
Silent Nights explores another very relevant aspect of the immigration issue as Kwame, an immigrant from Ghana to Denmark tries to make a living in a land far removed from his home. He has a family back in Ghana and struggles to get money to send home to them. He meets a young woman at a homeless shelter where she volunteers and they begin a relationship that gets quite complicated very quickly.
Kwame is a complex character and he lies, steals and commits adultery with this young, naïve Danish woman. I never bought their relationship. I understand what the film maker was trying to achieve by asking the audience to have compassion for someone in a difficult situation. The film might have potentially been able to achieve its goals had it been a full-length feature film where the characters could have been much better developed. As it was, I just didn’t buy it and thought the ending was contrite even though the actors were quite good.
This is a very short (15 minute) film that captures two parking lot attendants at work. One has the day shift and the other, the night shift. The two just give each other a cursory acknowledgement as they change shifts every twelve hours. With cameras, everywhere and an immensely boring job monitoring them, the two workers begin communicating through dance videos done while on the job. The story of two individuals performing rote jobs quickly turns into a romantic comedy and it is all contained in 15 minutes. The Director is able to accomplish everything he needs to in this short amount of time. The dancing is great, the idea cute and the movie ends on a bit of a high note which is always appreciated.
La Femme et la TGV (Switzerland)
Every day, Elise a widowed baker, opens her window and waves the Swiss flag to the TGV train as it passes by her home which sits a few feet from the train tracks. One day, the Train Conductor, Bruno, drops a note to her out of appreciation and the two of them correspond each day until one day, the train does not come. The route was changed for the train. Elise, clearly already a depressed individual who does not interact with anyone in the town shuts herself off even more until she finds that Bruno stopped by her home and left a good-bye note. She enlists the help of a young man to drive her to Munich where Bruno is about to take a train home and catches up with him. I won’t spoil the ending but it is bitter sweet and the actress playing the lead role is excellent.
I’d highly recommend seeing these films. It’s hard to predict which one will win the Oscar but several are worthy. The critics seem to like the French interrogation film the best but the predictors think La Femme is probably the favorite. I personally liked Sing the best followed by La Femme. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.