SHORTS

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LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that the field of Documentary Short Subject contenders for the 87th Academy Awards® has been narrowed to eight films, of which three to five will earn Oscar® nominations.

Voters from the Academy’s Documentary Branch viewed this year’s 58 eligible entries and submitted their ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers for tabulation.

The eight films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” Perry Films
“Joanna,” Wajda Studio
“Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace,” Show of Force
“The Lion’s Mouth Opens,” Tree Tree Tree
“One Child,” New York University
“Our Curse,” Warsaw Film School
“The Reaper (La Parka),” Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica
“White Earth,” Weary Traveler

The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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The wonderfully alive subject of the Lady in Number 6 just passed, says the Hollywood Reporter. She was 110 and the oldest survivor of the Holocaust. Incredible story, incredible woman. Sad news but on the other hand, when you lived that kind of a life? When you’ve left behind that kind of a legacy? When you live to be 110? One can have little complaints.  Bow down.

Alice Herz-Sommer, who was believed to be the oldest-known survivor of the Holocaust, died in London on Sunday morning at the age of 110, a family member said. A film about her, The Lady in Number 6, has been nominated for best short documentary at next month’s Academy Awards.

“Telling Alice’s story was a life changing experience for everyone who worked on the film,” read the statement. “Even as her energy slowly diminished, her bright sprit never faltered. Her life force was so strong we could never imagine her not being around. We are so proud to been so fortunate to capture Alice’s lessons for all the generations to come. We can all learn so much from this most amazing woman.”

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me),” Esteban Crespo, director (Producciones Africanauan)
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything),” Xavier Legrand, director, and Alexandre Gavras, producer (KG Productions)
“Dva (Two),” Mickey Nedimovic, director, and Henner Besuch, director of photography (Filoufilm Dani Barsch)
“Helium,” Anders Walter, director, and Kim Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions)
“Kush,” Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures)
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?),” Selma Vilhunen, director, and Kirsikka Saari, screenwriter (Tuffi Films)
“Record/Play,” Jesse Atlas, director, and Thom Fennessey, executive producer (Collaboration Factory)
“Throat Song,” Miranda de Pencier, director (Northwood Productions)
“Tiger Boy,” Gabriele Mainetti, director (Goon Films)
“The Voorman Problem,” Mark Gill, director, and Baldwin Li, producer (Honlodge Productions)

The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting at screenings held in Los Angeles.

Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in December.

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When the Oscar race starts to get me down as it does every year when it’s finalized and put to bed — for most it’s just another day, another contest, another Super Bowl. For me, it’s recorded history that I then sift through the following year to try to make sense of it. I always think of it like heading into the Grizzly Maze in hopes that I can remain objective but as the season wears on and the bears start eating their cubs it’s impossible not to feel like Timothy Treadwell, trying to “fix” nature and losing one’s mind while doing so. Good times.

But the one part of the Oscar race that gives me joy and makes me feel hopeful both for the future of the Academy Awards, as such, and the future of film overall is the short categories. The films I’ve seen there are so good, so worth your time and best of all they aren’t driven by marketing teams or advocates — they are just the movies, chosen because they were well made and their stories well told.

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by Marshall Flores

I will preface this post by saying that it’s always difficult for me to choose a winner from any of the Oscar-nominated shorts in a given year. Too often are the nominees in a shorts category better than their “big brothers” in the respective feature category – in fact, I prefer this year’s crop of animated shorts over any of the animated feature nominees. Year in and year out, each shorts lineup represents an incredible, diverse array of artistry and talent.

But in any case, here’s a look at the 5 shorts nominated this year in the live action category:

Asad (dir. Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura) is one of two coming-of-age stories featured in this year’s lineup. Asad is a young Somali boy who idolizes the pirates of his coastal town. Of course, he eventually realizes that the pirate’s life isn’t as romantic as it seems, and begins to recognize the harsh, violent realities of life in the region. Comprised of increasingly bizarre events that are simultaneously nerve-racking and darkly humorous, “Asad” is propelled with terrific energy resulting from the charisma of its lead and the authenticity of its cast (all Somali refugees), culminating in a wacky curveball of an ending that I doubt anyone will see coming.

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This is my favorite of the animated shorts, with Adam and Dog being a close second.

Just a reminder that the Oscar Nominated Live Action and Animated Short Films 2013 open this Friday, February 1st ) in Los Angeles and Orange County (Documentary shorts open next Friday, Febraury 8th )

The five animated shorts are all worth buying a ticket to see.  They will be hitting theaters soon. You can find out where and more about all of the shorts on their site. 

So far, I’ve made it through four of the five animated films and am half-way through the live action.  The shorts, like the documentaries, are usually better than the nominated films in the feature category – except this year, the Academy picked  some very good films for its Best Picture lineup.

The best of the bunch, to my mind, are Paperman and Adam and Dog.  You’ve likely already seen Fresh Guacamole, as it’s been floating around on YouTube for a while now.

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Word went out to Academy members today about a big change in ballot procedure for three categories. Until now, members who wanted to vote for Best Documentary Feature, Live Action Short or Animated Short would need to trek to designated screening locations where they got their hands stamped as certified proof that they’d seen all the nominated films before voting. (Not 100% sure about about the hand stamp part, but I like the image). Previously this meant Oscar winners in these three categories were always selected by a relatively small number of members with lots of time on their hands. But that’s all history. Now each voter will be sent screeners for each the nominees. If that sounds like an expensive burden to place on filmmakers whose movies don’t ordinarily have lavish FYC budgets, don’t worry; the Academy is covering the cost. (Gold Derby)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 85th Academy Awards®. Fifty-six pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

  • Adam and Dog,” Minkyu Lee, director (Lodge Films)
  • “Combustible,” Katsuhiro Otomo, director (Sunrise Inc.)
  • “Dripped,” Léo Verrier, director (ChezEddy)
  • “The Eagleman Stag,” Mikey Please, director, and Benedict Please, music scores and sound design (Royal College of Art)
  • “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Raul Garcia, director, and Stephan Roelants, producer (Melusine Productions, R&R Communications Inc., Les Armateurs, The Big Farm)
  • “Fresh Guacamole,” PES, director (PES)
  • “Head over Heels,” Timothy Reckart, director, and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, producer (National Film and Television School)
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”,” David Silverman, director (Gracie Films)
  • “Paperman,” John Kahrs, director (Disney Animation Studios)
  • “Tram,” Michaela Pavlátová, director, and Ron Dyens, producer (Sacrebleu Productions)

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Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that the field of Documentary Short Subject contenders for the 84th Academy Awards® has been narrowed to eight films, of which three to five will earn Oscar® nominations.

The eight films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company.

  • “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement,” Purposeful Productions, Inc.
  • “God Is the Bigger Elvis,” Documentress Films
  • “In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution,” Downtown Docs
  • “Incident in New Baghdad,” Morninglight Films
  • “Pipe Dreams,” Leslie Iwerks Productions
  • “Saving Face,” Milkhaus/Jungefilm
  • “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom,” Supply & Demand Integrated
  • “Witness,” Buche

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I’ve just watched all of the animated, all of the live action and all of the documentary shorts. ¬†I will attempt to review them with the caveat that — and this is very important, readers — what I like hardly ever wins in these categories.

At first pass through all of these, two things stand out: the first? There is no bad apple. ¬†They are all pretty great. ¬†The second? Although there is one American short among the live action, it is remarkable that so many of them are British – this goes for animated too. ¬†The American ones seem more cynical, less hopeful, less sentimental – and of course, we’re seeing the same thing play out in the Best Picture race this year: the one British film is the most sentimental and will likely win on February 27. ¬†One wonders why, with all of the film schools and all of the film students in this country, there aren’t more American filmmakers. ¬†One wonders! Are we just less educated? Are we too locked in to our directorial icons and therefore have to template out to say, a Tarantino or a Scorsese or a Woody Allen? ¬†I don’t know the answer.

Either which way, here are my reviews, rankings and predictions (take the predictions with a grain of salt).

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Killing In the Name – Trailer from Carie Lemack – Global Survivors on Vimeo.

Three to five of these will earn a nomination:

“Born Sweet,” Cynthia Wade Productions
“Killing in the Name,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“Living for 32,” Cuomo Cole Productions
“One Thousand Pictures: RFK’s Last Journey,” Lichen Films
“Poster Girl,” Portrayal Films
“Strangers No More,” Simon & Goodman Picture Company
“Sun Come Up,” Sun Come Up, LLC
“The Warriors of Qiugang,” Thomas Lennon Films, Inc.

More about the plots, etc. after the jump.

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Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 82nd Academy Awards. Thirty-seven pictures had originally qualified in the category:

  • The Cat Piano, Eddie White and Ari Gibson, directors (The People‚Äôs Republic of Animation)
  • French Roast, Fabrice O. Joubert, director (Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films)
  • Granny O‚ÄôGrimm‚Äôs Sleeping Beauty, Nicky Phelan, director, and Darragh O‚ÄôConnell, producer (Brown Bag Films)
  • The Kinematograph, Tomek Baginski, director-producer (Platige Image)
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte), Javier Recio Gracia, director (Kandor Graphics and Green Moon)
  • Logorama, Nicolas Schmerkin, producer (Autour de Minuit)
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death, Nick Park, director (Aardman Animations Ltd.)
  • Partly Cloudy, Peter Sohn, director (Pixar Animation Studios)
  • Runaway, Cordell Barker, director (National Film Board of Canada)
  • Variete, Roelof van den Bergh, director (il Luster Productions)

More clips from the shorts after the cut.

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AJ Schnack writes about the short list of Doc Shorts, which seem to come from one place in particular:

THE FINAL INCH is one of several films on the shortlist with a connection to HBO, which has cornered the market on the doc short category in recent years. It garnered laughs at last year’s IDA reception for Oscar nominees when each successive honoree in the shorts category thanked Sheila Nevins and Sara Bernstein and the entire HBO documentary unit.

Tom Hanks alert:

Also from HBO, Mark Herzog’s DAVID McCULLOUGH: PAINTING WITH WORDS, a portrait of the historian that was produced by Tom Hanks.

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From AMPAS:

Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that the field of Documentary Short Subject entries for the 81st Academy Awards® has been narrowed to eight films, of which three to five will earn Oscar® nominations.

Voters from the Academy’s Documentary Branch viewed this year’s 31 eligible contenders and submitted their ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers for tabulation.

The eight films are listed below in alphabetical order:

“The Conscience of Nhem En”
“David McCullough: Painting with Words”
“Downstream”
“The Final Inch”
“Smile Pinki”
“Tongzhi in Love”
“Viva La Causa”
“The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306”

AP entertainment writer Jake Coyle writes up the short that will screen before Wall-E, Presto:

“WALL-E,” the tale of robot love that’s almost without dialogue, itself feels like a Pixar short grown long, with “Presto” as a delightful and cartoonish appetizer.

Written and directed by Doug Sweetland, “Presto” is about an elegant magician and his bunny, whose task, naturally, is to come out of a top hat at the appropriate time. We begin backstage with the bunny, whose name, Alec, is labeled on his small cage. With his floppy ears slung over, he’s frustrated that a carrot lies just out of reach.

Before he can grab it, Alec is rushed to the stage by Presto, but while Alec waits behind the curtain, he realizes the key to the magician’s trick lies beside him: When Presto reaches into to his top hat, it’s a portal through to another, Merlin-styled hat.

While Presto performs in front of a giant opera house, Alec mimes that he won’t jump through until he gets his carrot. Instead, Alec sends up a mouse trap, a charged circuit board and a never-ending ladder.

“Presto” clearly references Bugs Bunny’s man-outwitting wabbit, but with a Pixar twist: in the end, both are placated: the magician ends up with an jaw-dropping trick and the bunny gets his carrot. And the crowd goes wild.

Back in May, Animation World Mag wrote about Presto, and talks to the director, Doug Sweetland.

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