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Entries in short films (101)


Oscar Updates: Doc, Shorts, and Animation Charts

The Academy branches have been furiously screening all sort of less heralded fare of late. Tim already talked us through the animated shorts and I'm most intrigued by the Chilean allegory about a bear ripped from his circus life and a film about Russian astronauts. But there's more to uncover!

Heads up that we've updated that shorts, animation, and documentary section of our famed Oscar Charts. Click over and read up on the fascinating competitions.

As with all things Oscar, the shorts categories do get more attention than they once did many moons ago -- particularly with that mini theatrical tour of the nominated films each year --  but it's still not much.

Live Action Shorts
This year we've got barbers shaving cartel leaders, interpreters delivering babies, nuns interrupted, little boys in big wars, father and daughter visits gone awry, and much more in the Live Action shorts category. There's even a title with Q'Orianka Kilcher from The New World (!!!) and Vincent Kartheiser from Mad Men in the mix called Winter Light that bills itself as a "revisionist Western thriller". The ten finalists are quite a mix of types with thrillers, comedies, dramas, war films, and westerns accounted for.

Documentary Shorts
This tends to be the category most likely to trigger massive depressive episodes and this year is no exception: war, ebola, war, honor killings, war, The Holocaust, rape, and did I mention war? I personally can't even deal. Not this particular season.

Animated Features
This category continues to feel sewn up for Inside Out but the real drama is "how many nominees will we get?" since there's less films eligible than usual. If they still go with five, do you think Peanuts can surprise?

Documentary Features
I've been grilling members of the documentary branch over cocktails and light h'ors doeuvres at various parties of late. One charming older gentleman even pulled out a handwritten list of his favorites to read from only to pocket it again as if to torture me from suspense. High profile competitors (Amy, Going Clear, The Look of Silence, Best of Enemies) definitely have fans. Not that that means anything as this branch often surprises with both their finalist list and what gets shut out so nothing can be called "safe". But if something is safe maybe it's Cartel Land which has been name-checked with great frequency. Random shoutouts abound including Iris, Winter's on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, Where to Invade Next, and Meru. Sadly I haven't heard one mention of friskier / weirder critical darlings like The Wolfpack or Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog.

See the charts


Trailers for Short Oscar finalists

AMPAS has selected 10 documentary shorts from their undoubtedly long (unpublished that we know of) eligibility list to compete for the 5 nominations in the category. For those who are unaware the short film race at the Oscars each year can be a hodgepodge of years (no release dates apply obviously) because the shorts qualify for the competition by winning prizes at Oscar-qualifying festivals around the world. (The short film categories are often as international as the Foreign Language Film Award.) And the festival journey can be a long one for tiny low profile films. 

Doc trailers after the jump and a few Animated shorts, too...

Click to read more ...


"Tilda Swinton" by Christopher Doyle

How have we not seen this short film from legendary cinematography Christopher Doyle before? It plays like a music video but the title and subject is Tilda Swinton. Well Tilda AND Shanghai AND Chanel.



Tilda Swinton, the goddess extrordinaire, descended in Shanghai on the day of the Solstice. In this film by Christopher Doyle, colors, textures and physiques merge into landscape. Swinton transforms her body into striking brushes and shapes against the backdrop of Pudong's skyscrapers and the dark alleys behind.

Hat tip to The Film Stage for pointing us to this unseen curio. 


Tim's Toons: The cool worlds of Ralph Bakshi

Tim here with as big a story as animation is apt to produce: Ralph Bakshi will debut Last Days of Coney Island on Vimeo on October 29th, on his 77th birthday no less. It's his first animated project since a pair of short films in 1997.) This makes the second time in 2015 that a triple-A Animation God has used that platform to show the world his newest project. (The first was Don Hertzfeldt's World of Tomorrow in March; but as much as we should all of us love and adore Hertzfeldt and his work, there's no comparing his prominence in the animation ecosystem to that of Bakshi, a figure who earns every bit of the phrase "living legend".)

I write these words as a person who, confessedly, doesn't have much affection for Bakshi's output. Still, it's impossible not to be curious what the mind behind the most visible underground animation in history has up his sleeve, now that the 21st Century and digital distribution have come around to offer him new avenues to showcase his art. 

I'd like to share a short primer of the offbeat corners that the always-ambitious, frequently hapless auteur has explored in his 43-year career (after the jump)

Click to read more ...


NYFF: Shorts (Animated & International)

Part of the joy of film festivals (I’m told) is discovery, and so, this being Manuel's first full New York Film Festival, he figured he’d give its various Shorts Programs a chance.

It’s not a form I watch often though you’d think it’d be growing in popularity given our ever-shrinking attention spans. And with that in mind, rather than review all thirteen shorts I watched, I’ve singled out highlights from the programs screening at the festival, which include Pixar’s latest and a dazzling black and white queer short from Argentina. More...

Click to read more ...


Tim's Toons: Three Animated Oddities of 1954

Tim returning to duty.

August has been 1954 Month here at the Film Experience, and it now falls upon me to share with you the animation of that year. And man, it was a weird 'un. The important place to start is noting that in '54, Walt Disney - the man, not the multinational entertainment corporation - was massively obsessed with the creation of his brand-new theme park out in California, and the brand-new television show on ABC that shared its name and served as the new funnel for all his creative and commercial instincts.

With Disney - the multinational entertainment corporation, not the man - thus a bit rudderless, there was a void in American animation like there hadn't been since Mickey Mouse's 1928 debut, basically. Disney itself was beginning to experiment with form in ways that Walt did not approve of, since Walt wasn't paying attention anymore, and the result was things like the Oscar-nominated short Pigs Is Pigs, one of the very weirdest shorts in the studio's history.


Click to read more ...


Tim's Toons: In celebration of Bugs Bunny's 75th birthday

Tim here. We're coming hard upon one of the most important birthdays in animation: Bugs Bunny is turning 75 this week. It was on July 27, 1940, that the world first got to see the Merrie Melodies short A Wild Hare, written by Rich Hogan and directed by the legendary Tex Avery. And it was in this short that the unnamed comic rabbit character that the cartoonists at Warner Bros. had been noodling around with for a few years reached the final form of his personality. Though not, in fairness, anything close to his final design.

An ever-changing face notwithstanding, it was here that voice actor Mel Blanc premiered the sarcastic Bronx accent and the instant catchphrase, "Eh, what's up, Doc?", that separated the one true Bugs from the Bugs-like characters tormenting the primitive form of Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd in a few cartoons up to that point. And while refinements were still to be made – he wasn't yet an effortless in-command wit, but still a manic slapstick creation; it would also be five years before he'd take his first wrong turn at Albuquerque – it's remarkable how stable the character has been through all of the intervening decades.

Click to read more ...