Oscar Nominated Shorts at the Egyptian

The American Cinematheque presents this year’s Oscar Nominated Documentary, as well as Live Action and Animated Shorts on February 23rd, 24th & 28th and March 1st through the 4th.

Magnolia Pictures and Shorts International are once again partnering up to bring the Academy Award-nominated live action and animated short films to the Egyptian’s 78-seat Spielberg Theatre. The specific shorts are listed on the website at www.americancinematheque.com and the filmmakers who will be appearing in person will be announced as they are confirmed. Screenings are at the Lloyd E. Theatre and Spielberg Theatre at the historic Egyptian located on Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Las Palmas in Hollywood.

This is an opportunity to see what most of the public never gets a chance to see, and probably wouldn’t if they could. Because, sadly, most people just don’t have much interest in short films. In fact, for years the Academy itself has toyed with the idea of eliminating the various short subject categories from the Oscars all together. Mostly because they seem to feel that the short film holds little validity in the modern world of cinema. But then again, the powers that be thought the same about animation, and look at the respect that category garners today.

A few years back, I had the great pleasure of attending a screening of the Nominated Documentary Shorts the day before the Academy ceremonies and I have to say it was a thrilling experience. It was the same year that “Shakespeare in Love” won for Best Picture and a friend of mine was among the nominees. The shorts that year were a fascinating mixture: a traditional PBS-like pan and scan of historical documents relating to several generations of conservationists, a unique self portrait of a modern Maoist via stop motion animation, and my friend’s black and white guerrilla-style documentation of a senior citizens’ acting group on the lower East side of Manhattan.

The films were so very different and original that it was hard to believe they could be classified in the same field of competition. Above al,l they were thoroughly entertaining to the point of leaving the audience wanting more – truly the sign of a great short film. Another great and unexpected effect was the inspiration that was generated for not only the subjects, but also the act of filmmaking itself. Here were stories that were complete in their brevity and seemed like something you could make yourself, something you wanted to make, and you were empowered with the belief you could make them all in forty-five minutes or less.

Short filmmaking is nearly a lost art, one that should continue to be supported by any means necessary. Not only because of the potential it offers as a testing ground for those on their way to becoming a feature length filmmaker, but because of the craft itself. Like the short story or novelette, the short film should continue to be hailed as an independent format, possessing qualities of its own that are unmatched by its lengthier brethren. All hail the artist who dares take on the challenge. An Oscar is the least we can offer to those who are deemed the best in their field. By the way – my friend’s film won. Yay!

A complete calendar listing of the American Cinematheque program is available on their website at www.americancinematheque.com.

General Admission is $10; $7 for Cinematheque members; $9 for Seniors 65 years and older and for students with a valid ID card. 24-Hour information is available at (323) 466-FILM. Tickets available through www.fandango.com.

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