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Entries in short films (93)

Friday
Jun262015

Rose's Turn

Remember Rose McGowan?

We haven't seen much of her on the big screen in the past few years (her most recent feature was the Jason Momoa led reboot of Conan the Barbarian in 2011, which is unfortunate since we would have much rather seen her proposed reboot of Red Sonja). But the Charmed actress, who broke out in the mid 90s with memorable turns in The Doom Generation and Scream, is in the news again.

A recent twitter comment about her former agent and Hollywood sexism has pushed several buttons but more importantly she's been out promoting her new role behind the camera. She is developing a feature and she's also made a short film.

Here's her short Dawn that's hitting Oscar-qualifying festivals and is available in full on YouTube. 

Thursday
Jun252015

Tim's Toons: The state of animation in 1948

Tim here. We're talking about 1948 this week at the Film Experience, and it's my turn to take you back to the world of American animation in the aftermath of World War II. It was a fertile period: of the three studios that had dominated the medium prior to the war, Fleischer had been absorbed into Paramount and disappeared, while Disney had been badly damaged by an animators strike in 1941 and the loss of overseas markets, and spent the second half of the decade in desperate survival mode. That left a vacuum, which was filled by a sprawling variety of competitors that thrived even after Disney managed to find its footing again.

Pictured: Disney in 1948. Literally: it's from their film Melody Time.

In tribute to this unusually diverse marketplace, arguably not matched again in theatrical animation until the early 2000s, may I present three of the most unique and important animated milestones of 1948 after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Friday
May012015

Tim's Toons: Soviet Propaganda Sampler Platter

Tim here. It's the first of May, and of course that can only mean one thing! ...oh, right, the new Avengers opens. Yeah, it means that too. But the thing is, the whole internet is going to be around to talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron, all weekend and probably all next week, and by then it will be time to talk about its sequels and spin-offs till the heat death of the universe.

So for right now, it's May Day, or International Workers Day for the anarcho-socialists in the crowd. Sort of like Labor Day's burlier, more aggressively political sibling, it's the kind of holiday that can only be celebrated in one way: animated Soviet propaganda! So please, won't you join me on a brief tour of some of the best - or at least, the most interesting - snippets of propagandistic Soviet cartoons? I promise that it's fascinatingly weird...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr232015

Tim's Toons: The new short "The Alchemist's Letter"

Tim here. It's been a good few weeks for animated short films about the fluctuating nature of memories and the complex relationship we have with the past: the warm glow has hardly faded from the online premiere of World of Tomorrow, and this week has seen the premiere on Vimeo of The Alchemist's Letter, written and directed by Carlos Andre Stevens, a Student Academy Award nominee for his 2008 debut, Toumai.

It's transparently a calling card for Stevens, an employee of commercial animation studio HouseSpecial -- that's a former division of Laika, some of whose designers and effects animators have hopped over to help guide the uncommonly lush and appropriately fussy look of the short -- but what a calling card! It's a brilliant little jeweled egg of a short, evocatively sketching out a whole human life in less than five and a half minutes, and doing it through some utterly beautiful design and animation.

more...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb222015

Black History Month: "Schwarzfahrer," an Oscar Night Memoir

For this Oscar day special episode of Black History Month, we asked devoted reader Paul Outlaw, who you'll know from the comments, to share his Oscar memoir from the 1993/1994 ceremony. We're happy to call Paul a friend after our last few trips to Los Angeles. He starred in a German short film that won the Oscar years ago.


An elderly German woman (Senta Moira) and a black youth (yours truly) sit side-by-side on a Berlin streetcar in Schwarzfahrer, a twelve-minute 35mm film that premiered at the Berlinale 22 years ago this week. The film’s title is a play on words: a “Schwarzfahrer” is slang for “fare dodger” as the film was called in the UK , but if you break the German compound word into its components, it translates as “Black Rider” (the US title).

“Schwarzfahrer is a trenchant and stylistically assured work which makes the best use of all possibilities open to the short film. The film deals with a topical subject in a very humorous and extremely entertaining manner. The jury only wishes that German feature films would portray burning social issues and events with a similar lightness of touch and craftsmanship.

- Jury statement at the awarding of the first Panorama Prize of the New York Film Academy, 43rd International Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, 1993

 

When the short premiered I was an expatriate living in Berlin. After the film’s extremely positive reception – we were promptly invited to Cannes – I got the idea in my head that Schwarzfahrer could one day win an Academy Award.
Our journey to Oscar after the jump...

 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb182015

Best Live Action Short: Sally Hawkins Takes the Lead

Glenn here again, and as if yesterday’s look at the Best Documentary Short category didn’t prove it, there really aren’t any hard and fast rules when predicting the short categories. In live action short especially they go with serious issues, except when they don’t. They frequently go foreign, except when they don't. They're not overly thrilled with big stars or Hollywood directors, except when they are. It’s all a bit of a gamble, really. This year’s contenders, however, seem a little easier to decipher in terms of what has the potential to win and what hasn’t a hope in hell. Sorry, Butter Lamp, but I think that means you. You will always be my winner.

 

The Nominees:

Aya, dir. Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis (40mins)
Boogaloo and Graham, dir. Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney (14mins)
Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak), dir. Hu Wei and Julien Féret (16mins)
Parvaneh, dir. Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger (24mins)
The Phone Call, dir. Mat Kirkby and James Lucas (21mins)

Right now it seems pretty hard to look past The Phone Call given it stars an Oscar nominee (Sally Hawkins) and an Oscar winner (Jim Broadbent) and is emotional in ways that many will find belies its 20-minute runtime. Despite the curio factor of both doc and live action short Oscars potentially both going to films about suicide prevention hotline operators, I still feel rather confident over that prediction. It's certainly feels like a more complete film than, say, Boogaloo and Graham, which has wisps of nostalgia floating through its brief runtime and its cute children with pet chickens, but feels relatively light-weight compared to the rest (it gets to The Troubles right in its final shot, which seems like a more logical place to begin, but maybe that's just me).

I was a fan of Parvaneh about an Afghani girl in Switzerland and her friendship with a partying street kid, which feels like the most likely usurper to the throne given the Academy has shown an affinity towards films that bridge between the races. Maybe my hatred of the Israeli nominee Aya is clouding my judgement on that one, but what I do know for certain is that the best of an okay bunch is the sublime Butter Lamp, set in Tibet and focusing on a nomadic photographer who arrives in a village and who, in vignette form, has to deal with locals for whom photography isn't that common. It's wonderfully observed and it's an amazing example of how a film can thrill with restraint. I audibly gasped in the final shot despite it being so very simple. If it pulls a highly unlikely win out of the hat then I will scream with joy, but I think it's impressive festival haul (plus win at the Golden Horse Awards) will have to suffice.

Will Win: The Phone Call
Could Win: Parvaneh
Should Win: Butter Lamp