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Three theatrical programmes will give audiences around the country an opportunity to watch the nominated shorts in the Animation, Live Action and Documentary categories prior to the 83rd Academy Awards (R) ceremony on February 27th. This year will mark the inaugural theatrical outing for the nominated Documentary shorts. The Oscar (R) Nominated Short Films has become a key fixture of the awards season. Last year the release exceeded the million-dollar mark at the US box office, charting a spectacular 289% growth in attendance since its inception in 2005. Along with the theatrical run, the nominated short films will be released individually on iTunes from February 22nd in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and other iTunes Stores throughout the world. The release will also be available via cable's Movies On Demand (MOD), distributed by leading MOD distributor, iN DEMAND L.L.C. "The Oscar (R) Nominated Short Films are some of this years best entertainment. They're made by the worlds stand-out, emerging filmmakers and represent the cutting edge of entertainment," said Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive of Shorts International. "Audiences this year will experience intense emotional highs, laugh-out-loud comedies and brilliant insights, all in the space of 90 minutes." "The only way to improve your handicap come Oscar (R) night, is to catch these incredible short film nominees," said Tom Quinn, SVP of Magnolia Pictures. -- (C) Shorts International THE CONFESSION; United Kingdom; Oscar Nominee: Tanel Toom. Quiet and sincere, 9-year-old Sam is worried about making his first confession at church. As his conscience is clear, he therefore cannot hope for any relief from the experience. He and his friend Jacob decide to remedy that situation, but their initially innocent prank turns unexpectedly tragic. (26 min.) THE CRUSH; Ireland; Oscar Nominee: Michael Creagh. An 8-year-old schoolboy is so besotted with his teacher that he challenges her boyfriend to a duel to the death. (15 min.) GOD OF LOVE; USA; Oscar Nominee: Luke Matheny. Lounge-singing darts champion Raymond Goodfellow finds his prayers are answered -- literally -- when he receives a mysterious package of passion-inducing darts. The catch is that the one woman he loves -- Kelly, a drummer in his band -- is already in love with Ray's best friend Fozzie, the guitarist in the band. But when Ray uses the darts in a loony scheme to resolve this strange romantic triangle, he learns a surprising lesson about unrequited love and discovers his own place in the universe. Romance is in the air in this bohemian charmer. (18 min.) NA WEWE; Belgium; Oscar Nominee: Ivan Goldschmidt. 1994: There is civil war in Burundi, a small country of Central Africa directly bordering Rwanda. A near genocidal confrontation opposes rebels mainly composed of ethnic Hutus and a national army with a majority of Tutsis. This short film relates a sadly frequent episode of this fratricidal conflict: the attack by rebels of a minivan carrying ordinary citizens. A Kalashnikov bursts out. The bus stops, the passengers get off. An order is barked: "Hutus to the left, Tutsis to the right!" The sorting out begins. But who is a Hutu, who is a Tutsi? This story is entirely based on real people and situations. It was written by a person who has lived in the beauty of Burundi and suffered its horrors. With emotion, suspense and humor it exposes the absurdity of ethnic and racial strife. "NA WEWE" (pronounce "Na wayway") means "You too" in Kirundi. (19 min.) WISH 143; United Kingdom; Oscar Nominees: Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite. A fifteen-year-old boy with only months to live is granted one wish from the Dreamscape Charity. But David doesn't want to go to Disneyland or meet Gary Neville; what he really wants is an hour alone with a naked woman. (24 min.) -- (C) Magnolia
The nondocumentary live-action shorts are the weakest (of the oscar shorts series), most of them exercises in genre and attitude without much to say or show beyond an attempt at virtuosity or emotional impact.
The keeper of the bunch was the delightfully daffy "God of Love," in which a lovesick lounge singer (Luke Matheny, who wrote and directed) finds himself in possession of magical darts that make the victim fall in love for six hours.
It's hard to believe that these are the ten best shorts of the year but it's a case of a good program that is only disappointing if one hopes that the Oscar nominees would be great instead of just good.
Audience Reviews for Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts
Always enjoy watching these. I missed last years though. This years batch has one pretty weak entry, (the 4th one about the kids in Afghanistan). But all the others are worth watching. My favorite was the last one, Asad.
My favorite one of the bunch was Raju, but all of them were enjoyable to an extent. I thought the one that won the Oscar, The Shore, was one of the weaker ones, even though it features Ciaran Hinds, whom I really like as an actor.
A pretty good fix of shorts that spanned the range of comedy and drama. Thought Raju was the best but of course Oscar-baity The Shore won the Oscar.
Pentecost, Ireland, 11 minutes
Of all the live action shorts, I feel that Pentecost embraced and acknowledged both the opportunities and limitations of the short film genre. Too often, comedic shorts end up playing like a sketch, and dramatic shorts attempt to tackle too much plot-wise (and we see examples of both in this yearÃ¢(TM)s crop of nominees). Pentecost is a comedy, and while it certainly does not attempt any significant depth plot or character development, also maintains a sincerity that prevents it from feeling either sketchy or college filmy. This brief story of a reluctant altar boy who would rather be watching soccer is small but charming Ã¢" the plot is simple and we only really have one character that we get to know, but he is great fun, and the dialogue is funny throughout. It doesnÃ¢(TM)t overreach, and in doing so, it accomplishes all that it sets out to do. A
Raju, India/Germany, 24 minutes
This disturbing short story of a German couple who travels to Calcutta to adopt a young boy, only to discover that the boy has been kidnapped and his parents are looking for him, is eerie and unmoving. We donÃ¢(TM)t learn much about any of the charactersÃ¢(TM) backgrounds, but it is the scene when the couple is faced with the unsettling decision of whether to return with the child to Germany and offer him a promising future or return him to his biological parents in the slums of India that offers the most humanity. This film had me right up until the end. The story ends with an ellipsis, answering one question, but leaving several more up in the air, in a way that seems less poetic and more a product of the inherent brevity of the short film. Still, all-in-all, an excellent movie that makes the most of each of its 24 minutes. A-
The Shore, Ireland, 31 minutes
This was without a doubt the weak link here, and clearly suffered from an attempt to do too much, and as a result accomplishing little. The plot is familiar and tired, the story of a man returning to his hometown in Ireland after raising a family in America, reconnecting with his childhood adopted brother, who he severed ties with, and his former fiancee, who he jilted when he met a new woman in America. The dialogue is incredibly stilted, with supposedly emotional moments slapped clumsily across the viewers face. While there were some good performances (Conleth Hill), the entire film suffers from the dreadful acting of Kerry Condon, playing the 20-something American daughter, who delivers her lines with the subtlety of a less successful child actor. The most enjoyable scene of the entire movie (the chase scene when the three mussel farmers flee from a woman on horseback) is completely tangential to the plot. While not altogether terrible, the movie left a lot to be desired, and in this reviewers opinion was certainly not worthy of an Academy Award nomination. C-
Time Freak, America, 11 minutes
Of all the movies, you will spend the most time laughing during Time Freak, which is constantly funny, and at times hilarious. It tells the story of a college student who secretly develops a time machine, but rather than follow through on his goal to visit ancient Rome, he gets caught up in perfecting the small actions of his daily life, ultimately spending years repeatedly living out moments of a single day. The success of this film lies in its premise, which is very funny and well-executed. The only problem is that because it relies to heavily on a single funny premise, it does indeed feel like it falls somewhere in between a fantastic SNL sketch and a film school project. A-
Tuba Atlantic, Norway, 25 minutes
Certainly the most surreal of the nominees, this film is about an elderly man, who is told by his doctor that he has six days to live. He intends to spend his remaining time taking out his anger on the seagulls that have tormented him, and attempting to finally make contact with his brother in New Jersey using an enormous homemade tuba. He is reluctantly aided by a young girl, who aspires to become a Ã¢Death Angel,Ã¢? a fictional scouting organization who earn badges by helping people to die. The plot of cranky-old-man-wants-to-carry-out-ridiculous-childhood-dream-before-dying-but-canÃ¢(TM)t-shake-annoying-but-helpful-scout-character reeks of Up, but the characters are quirky and endearing, and the film is ultimately enjoyable to watch, if not an altogether amazing piece of cinema. B+