The Short Film categories are often overlooked by mainstream movie-going audiences, who usually use the Short Film time during the Oscars telecast to check their phones or go to the bathroom. You can't fault them: Most people watching the Oscars - even those that would consider themselves to LOVE movies - don't get to see these short films...not because they don't want to, but because they don't know HOW to.
Well good news, all of the Oscar-Nominated Short Films - in the Animated, Live-Action and Documentary categories - are being shown at the Detroit Film Theater, in Ann Arbor and in Howell (not to mention in theaters all over the country) beginning this weekend. Here's a guide on not only how you can check these amazing short films out and what these short films are, but WHY you should check them out in time for the Oscar telecast on February 9th.
Achievement in short films, in one way or another, have been recognized by the Academy since the 1930s, in both the animated and live-action categories (the first Documentary Short award was handed out in 1941). In order to qualify as a "short," a film - including credits - needs to be under 40 minutes in length, and to be considered for an Oscar, it has to also meet some other strict criteria as to how it is released, and how it is seen during its run.
Short films are not only brilliant, funny, touching, charming, powerful - you know, everything that their feature-film counterparts can be - but they are also a very viable career path for some of the biggest names in movies. Directors like George Lucas ("THX 1138"), Christopher Nolan ("Doodlebug"), Tim Burton ("Vincent"), John Lasseter ("Luxo Jr"), Gareth Edwards ("Factory Farmed"), Neill Blomkamp ("Alive in Joburg"), Steven Spielberg ("Amblin'") and even Martin Scorsese ("The Big Shave") had their careers take-off after producing and directing short films.
Director Damien Chazelle, who won the Oscar for Best Director in 2017 for "La La Land," catapulted his career with the film "Whiplash," which - you guessed it - began as a short film. Here is Damien discussing exactly how valuable it was to his career trajectory that he first developed the short film, "Whiplash":
The fact that most people don't get to see ANY short films throughout the year is in and of itself, a tragedy...they're not readily available for viewing, unless you seek them out or try to attend the various film festivals that showcase and highlight these movies. But the good news is that - more and more these days - short films are being made available, if you just know where to look.
One place to go is Shorts TV, the "global home of short entertainment." Here you will find the world's largest catalog of high-quality short movies and series. You can also find local theaters around this time of year - like the Detroit Film Theater in Detroit, MI - that will play the entire run of Oscar-nominated Short Films, just in time for you to finally fill out your Oscar Ballot without having to guess your way through the Short Film categories.
Speaking of this year's batch of nominated films, let me tell you that they are all stellar. And in case you're wondering (and I hope by now you are), here are some more details about the 15 short films that are nominated across the three Short Film Categories for the upcoming 92nd Academy Awards (play the link below for a montage of this year's nominated short films):
Short Film (Animated) Category
The front-runner in this category is the funny and heartfelt Hair Love, which you can play in its entirely in the player above. Daughter (Dcera) and Mémorable feature incredibly unique animation styles and are by far the most innovative from a story-telling and technical standpoint. Sister features a man who is thinking back on life with his little sister, yet it goes in a direction that no one might expect. In Kitbull, a cat encounters an abused pitbull and the two experience love and friendship, for perhaps the very first time.
Click here for more information and to see Trailers for all of the Animated Short Nominees.
Short Film (Live-Action) Category
In The Neighbors' Window (which can be viewed in the above video player), a couple discovers that the grass is not always greener. Brotherhood is a riveting story about a father, whose son returns home with a new wife after fighting for ISIS. In A Sister, tension and mood is at the center of this harrowing tale about a women being held against her will and the emergency phone operator on the other end of the line. Nefta Football Club is maybe the lightest entry, about two boys who discover a literal drug mule. And Saria is one tough watch, based on a real-life story about a girl who plans a daring escape from an orphanage.
Click here for more information and to see Trailers for all of the Live-Action Short Nominees.
Short Film (Documentary) Category
The Documentary Short films are always so enlightening, but as usual, they are incredibly painful to watch since many of them deal with such difficult topics. In The Absence (trailer above) describes how the South Korean government completely botched their response to a ferry boat that capsized, killing over 300 people - mostly students - on board. Perhaps the hardest of all the films to take in is Life Overtakes Me, an unthinkable a story if there ever was one, about refugee children in Sweden who go through such mental trauma, that they actually enter into a coma-like state of catharsis...sometimes for years at a time (this movie is also available to stream on Netflix). On the more hopeful but not necessarily lighter side of things, there is Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you're a girl) about a skateboard school in the heart of Kabul, and St. Louis Superman about a man who runs for Congress propelled on by a personal tragedy. Last and definitely not least is Walk Run Cha-Cha, a story of a Vietnamese couple that met as teenagers before being separated for years, and who make up for lost time on the dance floor.
Click here for more information and to see Trailers for all of the Documentary Short Nominees.
Hopefully you're inspired to give these amazing short films a chance!
Looking for a specific movie or review?