Women, girls, and men. These are the protagonists in this year’s live action shorts that garnered an Academy Award Nomination. I’ll top that vague description with another one. I started this piece while only finishing one of the shorts and will, as part of my job, watch the rest, but these shorts reflect the times that viewers in the real world are in. They do so for better or for worse. Let’s begin.
We celebrate Christmas in February in Eirik Tveiten’s Nattriken, or Night Ride. I came to this short to have a good time watching a woman with dwarfism, Ebba (Sigrid Kandal Husjord), as she carjacks a streetcar. But I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now. Spoiler alert, but her petty crime results in her and the passengers of the streetcar witnessing a crime. That crime involves two men harass a woman.
This is the shortest of the shorts, but running time is not the problem here. There’s a new reality that women have to face now. That some people will harass them for being trans. Or because people mistake cis women as trans. Other critics wrote about how offensive this is. It’s understandable why this short rubs many people the wrong way. Starting the program with this short means that the next ones are probably going to be better.
And just like that, the programme gets better. Ariane (Nawelle Evad) arrives from Iran to the Luxembourg Airport and is trying to leave that airport while evading the man whom her father married her off to. The premise from director and writer Cyrus Neshvad’s short Le valise rouge, or The Red Suitcase is pretty simple, and it’s that simplicity that makes it remarkable. It uses cinematic language in an economic way, and it uses foreground and background to great effect. I also agree with other critics that this is the right amount of stressful and it doesn’t exploit its subject matter. This may not with the Oscar, but I’m rooting for it just in case it does.
Anders Walter and Pipaluk K. Jørgensen give their viewers stark views in their short Ivalu. This is not a Greenland travelogue. In fact, they’re showing us these landscapes through the eyes of a protagonist who also bears the name of Pipaluk (Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann). Pipaluk searches for her titular older sister who presumable runs away. Following her is a raven. The short implies that, spoiler alert, Pipaluk is in denial about what happens to Ivalu. But it’s gives us that story through the eyes of a child, which makes this short worse. It’s understandable that children or human being in general psychologically block this, but not in the way that the short present it.
Life is short, and Ross White and Tom Berkeley‘s An Irish Goodbye shows, on the surface the difference between the people who do and make the most out of their lives. Turlough (Seamus O’Hara) lives in London but returns to Ireland to attend his mother’s funeral. He tries to sell off the farm where he grew up, even if his brother Lorcan resists him on doing so. Or at least, not before they do a list of things their mother wants to do before her death. Some things on the list sound ridiculous but thankfully the short finds its way out of those things. Berkeley and White also incorporate baroque shadow play, intricate textures, and modernity in a comedy which, finally, a comedy!
The last short film in this programme is also a comedy. In Alice Rohrwacher’s Le pupille, Serafina (Melissa Falasconi) lives in an orphanage during Fasciest era Italy. On Christmas Day, she and her fellow orhans dress up as angels, entertaining guests, including a woman, Rosa (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) who has a prayer so inappropriate that the orphanage’s Mother Superior (Alba Rorhwacher) puts a stop to it. Wackiness ensues. Now this is Baroque. The only note I’ll give this is that it takes a while for it to build its premise, but the payoff is so worth it. I’m happy that this is my introduction to Rohrwacher’s work. Although I have another favourite, this comes as a close second.
- Release Date: 2/17/