Today, we take a look at the five films nominated for the 2017 Academy Awards in the Live Action Short Subject category.
In the 1990s, as the Algerian civil war rages and terrorists infiltrate France, a French police officer of Algerian descent conducts a rancorous interview with a French-born Algerian man seeking naturalization.
LA FEMME ET LE TGV
Country of origin: Switzerland
Directed by: Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
Running Time: 30mins
Elise has been waving at the express train as it passes by her home every day for three decades. A letter from the train’s conductor begins a correspondence between the two, and when the train is detoured to another route, Elise goes in search of her man.
Country of origin: Denmark
Language: Danish | Akan | English
Directed by: Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
Running Time: 30mins
Young Danish woman Inger volunteers at a homeless shelter in Copenhagen, where she meets and falls in love with Kwame, an undocumented immigrant from Ghana. The couple builds a life together, but a devastating secret from Kwame’s past may undermine their happiness.
Country of origin: Hungary
Directed by: Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy
Running Time: 25mins
Young Zsófi is having a hard time fitting in at her new school, and her distress grows when the choir director treats her cruelly despite her love of singing. Along with her friend Liza, Zsófi investigates the revered teacher in an attempt to reveal her true nature.
Country of origin: Spain
Directed by: Juanjo Giménez Peña
Running Time: 15mins
Parking lot security guard Luna is bored with her uneventful daily routine but a call about a customer complaint leads her to discover how the night guard, Diego, alleviates his boredom. Soon the pair develops a relationship by communicating through the garage’s CCTV footage.
The first thing that’s noticeable about this year’s shorts in that there is not a single American film in the lot. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s wonderful that the world is being represented at the American Academy Awards, the biggest single prize in the world of cinema. Yet, what does that say about the status of live action short filmmaking in the United States? This is not the first time in recent Academy history that this category lacked an American-made film, and with the threatened cuts to arts programs by our new Presidential administration, this is a trend that could continue unabated.
As for this year’s nominees, there really isn’t a subpar choice amongst the bunch. All five are extremely well-made, and one winning over the others shouldn’t cause any controversies.
Ennemis Intérieurs makes a great statement about the fight against terrorism in the modern world, but you’d never know the film was supposed to place twenty or so years ago, or that the interrogator in the story was of the same nationality as the interrogated, from the film itself. That ambiguity doesn’t hurt the film or dilute its message, but it could hurt the film’s chances of winning. Rating: C-
Silent Nights is another “message” movie, about tolerance and how we treat those less fortunate than ourselves. Yes, we need to be better to those who are struggling, although maybe not to the extent the lead character does. The climax of the plot hinges on an event early in the story, but this reveal is literally impossible, and makes everything that happens after anachronistic. The denouement also sends a very poor message which betrays the overall arch. Rating: C
The only really way to describe Timecode is “cute.” It doesn’t have a message. It doesn’t make a point about the world we live in. It’s just cute, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. How director Giménez Peña tells his story primarily through multiple CCTV cameras is inventive, and star Lali Ayguadé’s choreography for her and co-star Nicolas Ricchini is mesmerizing. Rating: A-
Mindenki is another charmer. The softest “message” film of the group, it hits you with its issue (acceptance) with a feather pillow instead of a jackhammer, and you really are rooting for the outcome by the time it happens. The two young leads, Zsófi and Liza, have irresistible charm and boundless presence for such young actresses, and would be an easy winner in any other year. Rating: A
However, this year, Mindenki is going up against Le Femme et La TGV, which is simply the best short film to be nominated in this category since possibly 2010’s God of Love. The Le Femme of the story, Elise, is played by the legendary Jane Birkin, and her charisma and enthusiasm for her character will make your heart soar or hurt appropriately as necessary. Le Femme by all means should be this year’s winner. Rating: A+