Oscar-nominated live-action shorts

24 February 2011

Guest feature: Srini S. is based in India

I am listing the IMDB links of the five live-action short films that have been nominated for this year’s Oscars. Any effort from my side to summarize the plots of these short films beyond what is listed there would give away some spoilers.

The Confession (2010) - UK

Na Wewe (2010) - Belgium

The Crush (2010) - Ireland

God of Love (2010) - USA

Wish 143 (2009) - UK

Though all the films are very watchable and well paced, it is a mixed bag when it comes to impact. Technical execution is uniformly good, but none of them push any boundaries.
Thematically, both the UK films are strong. The same cannot be said of the films from Belgium and USA.

The Confession explores the themes of guilt and redemption. While there are umpteen films on this subject, rarely do we see them from the perspective of a young boy. An unpredictable story and excellent acting from two child actors put this film in the top tier. The background score and cinematography are noteworthy too. Wish 143, with its terminally-ill teen protagonist, explores human need and sex from a unique perspective. In one scene, the boy wonders how he is expected to have a fulfilling sexual relationship if he doesn’t have the time to fall in love (as commonly expected by society). The film also challenges the common expressions of sympathy by society towards terminally ill kids, implying that those gestures seldom address the true emotional needs of those kids.

The Crush is an endearing story (again featuring a kid) that challenges the popular notion that adult relationships are more solidly founded than childhood crushes. Thankfully, the film doesn’t entirely rely upon the cuteness factor for its message, though it is a definite factor. It is a well conceived and well acted film.

The rotten apple of the lot is
Na Wewe, that takes on a serious subject like the conflict between Hutu and Tutsi communities in Burundi and executes it in one of the silliest possible ways. Though it touches upon potentially interesting aspects of human and cultural identity, it squanders them away in favor of poor attempts at humor.

God of Love
looks every bit like the films one commonly finds in a student film festival - clever, goofy and funny, but never able to go deeper than the surface. The typical characters, voice-overs and BW cinematography, customary for such films, are all present. Not a bad film at all, but it is tough to overlook these cliches.

It is tough for me to predict which of these films will please the Academy members. I would be pleased if one of the films from UK gets the honor.