The five Academy Award-nominees for this year’s Live Action Short Film originated from Europe, the United States, and one production that involved Palestine. Two of the stories are lighthearted and three are serious, but all present characters in situations that challenge them and their assumptions. In alphabetical order, they are:
Ave Maria: The film opens in the West Bank, Palestine, on Friday at 5:35 pm. A Jewish couple and his mother are driving home before sundown. They get into a car accident in Arab territory outside a Sisters of Mercy nunnery. They allow the man to use their phone but each culture’s beliefs make working together difficult as the nuns have taken a vow of silence and the man can’t use the telephone because Shabbat as begun. This film is a sweet comedy about different people coming together and seeing past their differences, or more accurately seeing past themselves, in order to work together.
Day One: Feda is an Afghan-American female interpreter working with U.S. military in Afghanistan. Her first day out in the field is a brutal one as the death of a team member leads them to the home of a suspected bombmaker, whose wife begins a risky labor for both the child and mother. Feda is challenged to assist with the birth because the cultural norms keep a male doctor away. Although there’s no commentary on the war, the story told is a compelling character study, as enemies must set aside their differences in order to save the innocent.
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Qird Gut): It’s Michael’s weekend to pick up his eight-year-old daughter Lea from his ex-wife’s home. He appears a bit anxious as he takes her shopping. After taking pictures in photo booth, it’s clear something isn’t right, and soon after they are buying emergency passports. His plan is to run off to Manila, but Lea doesn’t want to go and becomes scared of her father. Young Julia Pointner gives an outstanding performance, delivering a wide range of emotions in her performance. The final scene exuded great dread as there was no telling what lengths Michael would go to, but it became anticlimactic as the scene goes on and on without offering anything new.
Shok: A man comes upon a bike in the road and it brings back memories pf when he was a young boy during the Kosvo war. Cut to two young boys going to meet up with Serbian soldiers. Petrit makes a delivery and is accompanied by his friend Oki, who owns bike. Petrit likes the money and talks Oki into another run; however, a solider confiscates the bike for his nephew, which damages the boys’ friendship sine Oki didn’t want to return in the first place. The story presents character moments that reveal both the greatness and wickedness of humanity, which will stay with the viewer as it does the man from the film’s opening.
Stutterer: A young 20-something in London has developed a friendship with a woman on Facebook that has been going for six months. When she suggests they meet while she visits London, he’s extremely nervous about meeting her because of his harsh his stutter is. The film concludes with a cute twist that shows he was nervous for naught. While it seems odd albeit believable that after six months his condition never came up, what’s even odder is it appears he knew about the twist as hinted at by his actions throughout the film. That means the twist was just for the audience, which undercuts the entire story.
Those filling out their Oscar ballots have a tough choice to make, but if I had to pick one, I would select Shok. Day One is a strong contender. The others are enjoyable, but not as deserving to be considered the best live action short of the year.
The 2016 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action, Animation, and Documentary) will be released in theatres on January 29th, giving you the opportunity to see the nominated films before the Oscar Awards ceremony on February 28th.