BEST SHORT FILM, LIVE ACTION
I was lucky enough to be able to watch these selections from the comfort of my own living room and Aya was the short I saved for last…mostly because of its running time (40 minutes). This Israeli film (though most of it is in English) wasn’t quite what I expected it to be…and that’s a good thing. I had heard that the movie was ponderous and ultimately of little substance but I thought it was a sweet tale of a woman who is mistaken for the chauffeur of a man traveling to Jerusalem for a music competition. I could easily see the film, with its meet cute set-up and splendid performances being the basis for a rom-com remake in the U.S.
Boogaloo and Graham
Many a feature length film started off as a short (Oscar nominee Whiplash is a great example) and I always like to ponder which of the five nominees has the best shot of making a case for an expansion. While Aya may have some legs as a remake, I’d say that as-is Boogaloo and Graham is the one film that I’d want to see more of as long as it brings along the same cast and director. It’s the 70s in Belfast and two brothers are given baby chicks to care for by their farmhand father. The mother is incredulous that the fowl are lavished with care while the father is happy that is boys are showing responsibility. Played against the backdrop of the Troubles, the film feels like a chapter from a larger biographical conception. A lovely film.
After watching Butter Lamp I can tell why it was included in the short list of nominees this year…and it’s for the last shot of the film. Now, I’m not going to spoil it for you but it pivots around a reveal that’s meant to make a statement but actually feels like a sullying of the unique moments that came before it. A photographer takes pictures of an array of nomadic Tibetans against a cornucopia of surreal backdrops. I haven’t done enough research on this one to know how many actual actors were used but at times it felt like I was back watching the Documentary Short nominees and I had to remind myself that this was the Live Action Shorts.
An immigrant girl from Afghanistan is working in Switzerland to make money that she can send back home to help with her ailing father. Hearing of a place called Western Union that can easily transfer money to her home, she travels to Zurich where she encounters the good and bad that the city has to offer. Rising above its standard-fare premise, the short is a pleasant and well-acted glimpse into 24 hours in the life of our titular character.
The Phone Call
This UK entry has two familiar names in its credits. Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) plays a timid mouse of a woman that works at a grief center hotline. She takes a call from a man (Jim Broadbent, Paddington) in great pain and their 20 minute discussion is the basis for this saccharine nominee. Hawkins conveys a great deal of nuance as she converses with the suicidal man – you can tell that she’s dealing with her own social problems – and I liked that there was an unspoken internal dilemma of trying to do her job and understanding that perhaps she should just wait with him until the pills he’s taken have their effect. The film mucks it up with a finale that feels safe and too eager to please. Pity.