2022 Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts: We Live In a Society

Posted in Theatrical by - February 25, 2022
2022 Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts: We Live In a Society

A woman asks her mother for an impossible favour. A man learns how to knit. Another woman walks into the water at night while no one’s watching. These are moments within the live action short films that got Oscar nominations this year. Apologies for two things. The first for using the quote in Joker, which I hope doesn’t diminish the issues that these shorts bring to light. The second for sounding like I’m writing the blurbs that stars say during the Oscars, but the again ’tis the season.

Sezim (Alina Turdumamatova) is the protagonist in Maria Brendle’s Ala Kachuu or Take and Run. She’s a young woman from Kyrgyzstan who finds herself going form one small town to the city to another small town. That’s after a group of men kidnap her. This, by the way, is the depicts the practice of bride kidnapping that is common in Kyrgyzstan. This piece’s opening paragraph refers to a scene during the short’s climax. There, she asks her mother to take her back. It’s a favour that the latter denies because of ‘honour’. There’s so much detail here in depicting a practice that Westerners only know about through headlines. Aesthetically, there’s a beauty here that comes in depicting Central Asia. It’s a beauty that contradicts a cruel world where the two mainstream genders participate in oppressing women. The short’s third act almost convinces me to learn how to drive. Almost.

Family is hard to find in On My Mind, where a Danish man walks into a bar and insists on using a karaoke machine even if the bar has a set rule where the machine can’t be on during Tuesdays. The bartender asks why he needs the machine on but he won’t say why. Some lay viewers have called this too sentimental, but come on, who can’t love a man who will do anything for his wife? Besides, the main scene here reveals the toughness yet the hearts. This shows how vulnerable people can get even if they’re with strangers. It also echoes the theme this year, since the bar’s owner assumes that the man is homeless. This shows how people choose to treat any person as the other. Simplicity is good and reveals subtext.

From Sezin in Kyrgyzstan, viewers turn to Mateo from America in Please Hold, where he learns knit but because that’s the only thing he can do to earn money in jail. The short depicts some Kafkaesque scenario where Mateo leaves work on for a drone to arrest him without habeas corpus. This short is what happens when Black Mirror does the homework and someone else copies that homework. But this is one of the cases where imitation actually works. Besides, one of the great things about sci fi shorts is that it doesn’t hide its budget and yet it shows concept. Don’t ask me how I know but jail is never this bad. But it’s satire in the broadest sense in that it exaggerates the real barriers that regular people endure under the system.

Viewers turn from literal isolation to a metaphorical one in Tadeusz Lysiak’s The Dress, capturing the few days in the life of a little person. That person is Julka (Anna Dzieduszycka), whose life might change after a trucker comes and visits the small Polish city where she lives and works as a hotel staffer. This is probably the only short that made me feel each and every one of its thirty minutes.

And sure, there’s something retrograde about a little person who’s insecure about being little. Although in fairness there are things that every person can’t emotionally and totally overcome regardless of them seeming like they’re over their insecurities. Besides, those thirty minutes also makes room for some poetic scenes. Scenes like Julka walking down the beach at night because she can’t socialize with the tourists for many reasons. The narrative drive is also there as she tries to dress up for the man to which she tries to give herself. My least favourite but it’s still good. Dzieduszycka probably has my favourite performance during the program.

There are shocking turns in The Dress and the same goes for The Long Goodbye where Riz Ahmed plays a member of a family whose life changes after a British militia break into his home. Swift camera movements depict this suddenness while reminding viewers of past atrocities. This is sufficiently triggering, reflecting recent cyclical news stories about the yellow vest movement and Canada’s own Freedom Convoy movement. As an immigrant and a person of colour, shorts like this remind me that my life is vulnerable.

Our lives as people of colour are under the perpetual whims of white men who wish to execute more genocides. Goodbye has the critical backing and is the favourite probably because of Ahmed’s involvement. I will feel a shock if this loses, despite of how deserving each short is. It is also reminiscent of Children of Men. But again that text feel more prescient under the eyes of Ahmed, who co-wrote the short.

Watch the live action shorts that got Oscar nominations at TIFF.

  • Release Date: 2/25/2022
This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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