Coming up shorts | News | Almanac Online |

A&E

Coming up shorts

This year's best Oscar-nominated shorts focus on family

The animated short film "Love Hair" follows the story of a man who must do his daughter's hair for the first time. Courtesy of Lion Forge Animation.

Starting now, you can head down to your local theater and take in programs that include all of this year's Oscar-nominated live-action and animated short films.

There's been a lot of buzz over this year's "Best Animated Short," which includes the nominated "Hair Love," a sweet and sunny film written, directed and produced by former NFL-player-turned-filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry. Previously released as a pre-feature bonus to "The Angry Birds Movie 2," this colorful, hand-drawn 2D entry deals with the personal and cultural meanings of hair and family relationships, tested when an African American father must do his young daughter's hair for the first time. Cherry told Good Morning America that he wanted to normalize that vision of an African American father doing his daughter's hair. "Often times black men get a bad rap in not being involved in their kids' lives, and I really wanted to showcase a strong black family unit and show that dads are present," he said.

Other nominated films include the Czech film "Daughter," which also considers a father-daughter relationship -- but this one's under strain. A perfect cinematic tone poem, Daria Kashcheeva's film makes sharp use of sound effects to underscore evocative and finely textured puppet animation. Kashcheeva proves equally adept at the realistic and the fantastic in telling this story of love and regret, and nimbly uses camera motion to aid in the film's emotionally devastating effect.

Pixar veteran Rosana Sullivan helms the San Francisco set "Kitbull," a riff on the Aesop fable "The Lion and the Mouse." Here, the lion is an abused pitbull and the mouse a stray kitten, the latter overcoming its fear and accepting the friendship of the former. Listen carefully for the distinctive sound of a nearby BART train in this playful, somewhat lo-fi animated tale.

Shades of Van Gogh texture the French entry "Mémorable," the story of a painter losing his mind but perhaps not his marriage to neurodegenerative disease. Both trippy and poignant, Bruno Collet's stop-motion-animated film, more than any other in the program, takes advantage of the form to imagine the impossible and the unthinkable -- in visual terms. Lastly, "Sister," from Chinese-American stop-motion animator Siqi Song, explores the complicated family dynamics and personal yearnings of 1990s China, where siblings were a rarity. Best in show goes to "Daughter," but the very worthy "Hair Love" seems poised to take the gold.

Oscar prognosticators are mostly picking "Brotherhood" as the likely "Best Live-Action Short" winner. A co-production of Canada, Tunisia, Qatar, and Sweden, it's the story of a Tunisian shepherd rattled by the return of his prodigal son. The shepherd's wife and two other sons happily embrace the young man's return, but his tormented father struggles mightily to accept the situation. The Belgian film "A Sister" keeps it simple. It's a potboiler with a familiar premise: emergency dispatcher attempts to save the life of a caller in distress. French-Tunisian comedy "NEFTA Football Club" -- about two young boys who stumble upon a stash of cocaine -- is pure O. Henry, a pithy tale with amusing characters and a kicker of a twist.

"The Neighbor's Window" offers a poignant, if obvious, version of the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Shot like "Rear Window," it's a voyeuristic comedy-drama about a New York couple observing their across-the-street neighbors. The best of the bunch, however, is "Saria," a U.S.-produced drama that recreates, entirely convincingly, the tragic events that unfolded three years ago at the Virgen de La Asuncion orphanage in Guatemala. Wrenching and beautifully acted by a cast of orphans turned nonprofessional actors, "Saria" powerfully pulls you into its reality. Ranging between 7 and 25 minutes, these films make the case that, when it comes to storytelling, size doesn't matter.

— Peter Canavese

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Los Altos's State of Mind opening NYC-inspired pizza shop in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 15 comments | 7,953 views

Flying: How much is enough? It's personal.
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,617 views

Wait, wait – we’re working on it
By Diana Diamond | 18 comments | 2,205 views

My Pet Peeves
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 7 comments | 1,715 views

Goodbye toy stores
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 955 views

 

Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details