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Entries in short films (116)

Friday
Apr292016

New Directors: Banana, Transpecos, Spa Night, and The Fits

One day I will figure out to keep up with the cinematic madness but April contained none of those days. A week ago the Nashville Film Festival wrapped and I have yet to share with you the prizes my jury bestowed! Not that you've been clamoring to read about films you've never heard of but one of the joys of film festivals is in the discoveries. Hence my great thrill to be asked to sit on the "New Directors Jury". Let's survey a handful of the competitors starting with the two winners, both of which made one step closer to theaters this week.

HONORABLE MENTION The Fits (2016)
I'm starting with this one because it's out very soon (June 3rd in NYC / June 10th in Los Angeles) and you absolutely shouldn't miss it. I'm already eager to see it again. We need directors with fresh voices and a unique gaze and we've got one in Anna Rose Helmer. The Fits follows a young girl named Toni (Royalty Hightower, pretty great) who spends her days helping her older brother with his job cleaning a boxing gym. She's fascinated by the boy rituals and the girl rituals which are happening just down the hall where a local dance squad rehearses in another gymnasium. Just when you think you've figured out the film's theme (there's certainly much to ponder in its gender dynamics) one of the dancers has a violent fit and faints and you realize Helmer has a lot more yet on her mind. There's no easy allegories here and maybe it's a little opaque but there's much to ponder in its metaphysical poetry, thoughtful camera work and editing and, above all else, its persistent fly-on-the-wall curiosity, the camera a soulful twin to Toni's ever-searching eyes. B+ (A-?)

Breaking News: The Fits got a poster (left) and a perfect moody trailer this week from Oscilloscope Pictures. 

More after the jump including an awards magnet which keeps winning festivals... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar012016

Pt 2: New Oscar Trivia, Stats, and Curiosities

Picking up where we left off after the headliner categories. But click not away. The below the line crafts and specialty categories are just as important and trivia-interesting. I promise.

FOR THE EYES

Production Design: Colin Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road
Makeup and Hairstyling
: Mad Max: Fury Road
Costume Design: Jenny Beavan, Mad Max: Fury Road

Jenny Beavan previously won the costume category for another perfect film A Room With a View. Not since arguably Dianne Wiest has a two time winner won for such polar opposite achievements. Yes both of Wiest's Oscars are from Woody Allen pictures but those star turns couldn't be more different stylistically / emotionally / pscyhologically. Mad Max Fury Road is also the first sci-fi winner EVER in this category... unless you count Star Wars (1977) though some people prefer lumping Star Wars into the fantasy genre rather than sci-fi... and there have been multiple fantasy winners.

I can't think of any interesting stats to go with the Makeup and Production Design Oscars but they were richly earned, don't you think?

More after the jump including further Star Wars coincidences...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb282016

Take a Number: Here's the Order of Tonight's Statue Delivery

This was tweeted out by Jake Hamilton today. I assume it's accurate since it looks like the official program.

The hardest category to predict this year is, I mantain, Costume Design. I'd call it the only truly five-wide race. And it's fourth so some real suspense right off the bat. We'll also know very early whether a Kate & Leo reunion is coming since Supporting Actress is third... though I fully expect Alicia Vikander to take that one. [Final Predictions ICYMI

You'll also notice that they're not doing the short films all at once this year but (perhaps) pairing them with kindred spirit categories (animated short with animated feature, doc short with documentary, and live action short with foreign film... which makes sense since it's often a hodgepodge of foreign shorts that are nominated).

Are you feeling excited yet or merely panicked whilst preparing for your festivities?

P.S. Please enjoy this great Leonardo DiCaprio goodie from The Flippist.


Thursday
Feb252016

Oscar's Animated Shorts. Who Will Prevail?

In Part 1 we looked at the nominees from Best Live Action Short and Best Documentary Short one of which was animated. Here's Part 2 where all the animated films usually go.

Best Animated Short

Sanjay’s Super Team features a young Indian boy whose love of Western television and superheroes frustrates his traditional Hindu father.  The film comes under the Disney/Pixar imprimatur and looks just like every short you see before a new Pixar full-length release.  It has a sweet personal touch from the director, but it’s standard-issue short-form Pixar. 

Pro:  Pixar.  Con:  None.

four more films after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb252016

Short Film Contenders Pt 1. Who Will Win?

Eric Blume reporting for duty. We hadn't yet reviewed the short film Oscar nominees so I binged all 15 of this week. Many minds and bladders wander away from the Oscar telecast during these three categories.  Even those of us who claim we’ve “seen everything” have rarely seen all of the entries in the three shorts fields. But pay attention because these winners can bring some of the best moments of the show:  remember the 1991 show when producer Debra Chasnoff won for Documentary Short Subject for the General Electric expose Deadly Deception?  She got to the podium and said “boycott GE!” with a cut to Barbra Streisand smiling and clapping with Kevin Costner right behind her decidedly smiling and not clapping.  We Oscar lovers live for moments like this.

There’s a lot of quality among the three categories this year.  Here’s a quick overview as well as thoughts on who might prevail and why on two of the categories.

Documentary Short Subject

Body Team 12 follows the only female Liberian Red Cross member of a team which comes to remove dead bodies during the Ebola outbreak.  It’s the shortest of the five nominees at only 13 minutes, and therefore it doesn’t have a strong driving narrative, nor does it culminate in a larger meaning.  It simply follows the team while they gear up and remove the bodies, interspersed with an interview from its main subject.  It’s focused and lovely in its simplicity, but it suffers from its brevity. 

Pro:  Ebola.  Con: Uncomplicated.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness follows Saba, a Pakastani girl who is shot and left for dead by her father and uncle in an “honor killing” once she marries the young man she loves.  It’d be hard for anyone with a feminist bone or beating heart in them to not get riled up by this story, and it’s told with restraint and intelligence. 

Pro:  Angry.  Con: Angry.

Eight more shorts after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb022016

Sweet 16 Links: Colette, Noni, Gaga, and a Lynch Reunion

Variety Keira Knightley in talks to star in the biopic about the French writer Colette. Crossing my fingers about this one. Colette is fascinating (she wrote Cheri!)
Comics Alliance on Marvel, politics, and why corporations are not your friend
Towleroad TitanMen has offered disgraced Congressman Aaron Schock (the one with abs and a Downton Abbey fetish) $1 million to star in a porn film. LOL
Variety Clive Owen, Alba Rohrwacher, and more join Meryl Streep's competition jury at Berlinale

Kenneth in the (212) Shirtless Russell Tovey reportedly causes a Broadway audience member to faint. Ha!
Pajiba checks in w/ the Trainspotting cast, 20 years on 
i09 Naomi Watts reunites with Lynch for Twin Peaks S3
i09 Noomi Rapace not returning for the Prometheus sequel
IndieWire thinks "The Chickening," a short film remix of The Shining is insane and genius. Definitely the first part. As for the second... 
Towleroad a first for ESPN, actor Matthew Wilkas (Gayby, You're Killing Me) labelled "Gus Kenworthy's Boyfriend" during the X Games 
Coming Soon Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford (we  her) has joined the cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show the next TV musical (though this one won't be "live") 
Salon "Where are all the women in American Film?" a SAG-AFTRA member reviews her screeners

I had seen four films, 75 percent of which completely leave women out of the story. But maybe women really don’t feature in West African war zones. Or in the history of NWA. Or in finance.

But of course we feature. It just depends what story you want to tell.

TODAY'S WATCH
Lady Gaga performering her and Diane Warren's Best Original Song nominee "Til It Happens To You" at the PGA Awards

 

LEFTOVER SUNDANCE BUZZ
Variety 19 breakthrough performances from the festival
Film School Rejects talks to the cast and filmmaker of the LGBT Korean-American drama Spa Night
The Guardian Oscar buzz from the fest including Manchester by the Sea, Ira Sach's Little Men and Rebecca Hall as Christine 

TODAY'S MUST (LONG) READ
"Winona Forever" by Soraya Roberts for Hazlitt. It's a great history of the star's youth and her sudden generational iconhood. And how we've trapped her adolescence ever since. 

Winona Ryder arrived at the perfect time. Film scholar Timothy Shary characterizes the teen genre as “cyclical.” Ryder’s first film, Lucas, was released at the end of the hyper-hormonal Porky’s era (AIDS and teen pregnancy ruined it for everyone), five years before the release of Boyz N the Hood. In the period between 1986 and 1990, during her teen career, there were about 250 American films about adolescents, the most memorable being nostalgic thefts of innocence such as Dirty Dancing (1987), Hairspray (1988) and Dead Poets Society (1989). Three of Ryder’s films—Great Balls of Fire, 1969, Mermaids—adhered to this theme. She was in a sweet spot: post sex-crazed, pre-violence crazed—the ideal landing pad for a wide-eyed alien.

“You’d be hard pressed to say who was an average girl in teen movies after the mid-80s,” says Shary. The Brats had moved on, and so had John Hughes (his last teen film, Some Kind of Wonderful, came out in 1987), though no one forgot about them. “[Hughes] showed that you could make sensitive teen films that didn’t have nudity that didn’t pander to the supposed teen sex urge,” Shary says. He thinks this was “a contributing factor in helping set up an actress like Winona Ryder who could come along in the later ‘80s and be taken seriously as a teen actress.” While Hughes muse Molly Ringwald pined for the rich guy, Ryder merely pined for herself...

It's a delicious read and for those of you who didn't live through the Depp/Winona years, a fine encapsulation of the generational fascination with their relationship.

Friday
Jan292016

Sundance Buzz: Short Film Winners

The Czech queer short "Peacock" won Best DirectorWith the Academy Award short nominees opening in theaters today, it's a good time to note that the Sundance short film jury handed out their awards this week. This year's jury of three was Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key, MTV's chief film critic Amy Nicholson, and Amazon Studio's Gina Kwon. Since Sundance is a qualifying festival for Academy Awards you might hear the name of some of these shorts again in about a year. One of last year's big winners, for example, was World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt. That's an Oscar nominee right now for Best Animated Short. 

The 2016 Short Film Winners are as follows:

 

Grand Jury Prize Thunder Road (USA, Jim Cummings) an officer eulogizes his mother. Cummings is a producer/director with some shorts under his belt.
U.S. Fiction The Procedure (USA, Calvin Lee Reeder) a horror short about a captive man. Reeder has made several horror shorts and directed one of the segments in that anthology V/H/S
International Fiction Maman(s) (France, Maïmouna Doucouré) This one is about a young girl in a Parisian suburb whose father returns from Senegal with a surprise, a second wife
Non-FictionBacon & God's Wrath (Canada, Sol Friedman)  an elderly Jewish woman cooking bacon for the first time and reflecting on her life. This short also received an honorable mention from the jury at TIFF in September so perhaps it's a legit long list contender for next year's Documentary Short competition?


AnimationEdmond (UK, Nina Gantz) see the teaser above. This short has been making the rounds for a bit now. It recently won the BIFA and it's a BAFTA nominee this year but it did not make the longlist cut to 10 finalists for the current Oscar competition
Outstanding Performance Grace Glowicki won for Her Friend Adam (Canada, Benjamin Petrie) in which her boyfriend's jealousy spirals out of control.
Special Jury Award for Best Direction: Peacock (Czech Republic, Ondřej Hudeček). Peacock bills itself as "a twisted queer romance" it's set in the 19th century and has something to do with the birth of an influential writer. The film promises "Suspense, laughter, violence, hope, nudity, sex, and a happy ending—mostly a happy ending."