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Entries in short films (81)


Reader Spotlight: Michael Bina

In the reader spotlight series we celebrate YOU, the reason The Film Experience keeps chugging along. Today we're talking to Michael Bina who just produced a well received short film! Let's meet him.

Nathaniel R: We met a couple years back at a guild screening for Coriolanus's tiny Oscar-qualifying run I believe? 

MICHAEL BINA: Yes, that’s right! I remember you... loved it?

Well, Vanessa Redgrave in it! Otherwise not so much. How long have you been reading the site?

I’ve probably been reading The Film Experience for a little less than a decade. I was a huge fan of the Academy Awards growing up, so I began reading Oscar blogs. I stumbled upon yours and loved your insight on films, and just the way you wrote about them. The site's great at showcasing all aspects of the industry (film, theatre, television).

I understand you recently produced a film that was honored by the Producers Guild ? I'm fuzzy on details. Fill us in!

Every year the Producers Guild of America has a Weekend Short Competition. So over the course of one weekend you have to write, shoot, edit, compose and complete a film no longer than 5-minutes. This year the theme was Romantic Comedy in honor of Laura Ziskin. The film I made was called ‘The Squeeze’, inspired by my little cousin who has a Lemonade stand every summer.

That sounds fun. Let's watch it!


MICHAEL BINA: I used my cousin in the film, and made him a mafia-loving kingpin who runs all these lemonade stands in Beverly Hills. One day, this cute little girl opens an opposing stand, basically killing his business. So he tries to take her down, but falls in love with her. We ended up as one of the Top 10 Finalists, winning Honorable Mention. James Franco and Tom Cruise’s producing partner Paula Wager were two of the judges, so it was surreal knowing that they watched a film I wrote and produced.

Nathaniel: Congratulations so much. Okay, name 3 movies you've seen a bajillion times.

MICHAEL Movies are always playing in the background while I write, so this is easy.

X2:X-Men United
Moulin Rouge!
... and lastly (I know it’s cheating) but the four Disney Renaissance films: The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.

Take an Oscar away. Regift it.

  I want to say The Artist’s Best Picture win to A Separation, which is my favorite movie of all time. But, instead I’m going to make one choice that affects three outcomes. Take Hilary Swank’s 2nd Oscar and give it to Kate Winslet for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This way Kate would lose for her work in The Reader, meaning the Oscar would have gone to Streep. Thus, Streep would have lost for The Iron Lady, meaning Viola Davis wouldn’t be Oscar-less! (And even if Streep didn’t win, it probably would have gone to a very, very, very deserving Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So to wrap up, do like we did on sunday's podcast. Name your favorite turkey, succulent ham, and something you're sweet on for dessert.

Turkey: Independence Day
Ham: Jim Carrey
Dessert: Emma Watson

Thanks, Michael, Happy Thanksgiving!

Previous Reader Spotlights

P.S. If you'd like to be a reader spotlight, stay engaged! Like us on facebook and follow Nathaniel on Twitter. Don't be shy.


Live Action Short Finalists

One of the most confounding things about following the non-marquee categories at the Oscars is that not every category operates by the same rules. For example they released the super long eligibility list for Best Documentary Feature but not the super long eligibility lists for the live action shorts. To further complicate matters, this doesn't seem to be the same strategy each year.

Tim recently shared the finalist list for Best Animated Short nominations and now we have the ten Live Action hopefuls from which Academy members will nominate three to five. I personally hate it when categories have a fluctuating amount of nominees. Commit AMPAS! There's no excuse for it really in short films since there are thousands made each year and certainly at least 5 of them would have to be great.


Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) Esteban Crespo (Producciones Africanauan)
The always heartwarming topic of child soldiers. I honestly can't deal with these films and is it just my imagination or is there one on this topic every year in the shorts categories? It's just too overwhelmingly tragic for me.

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything) Xavier Legrand (KG Productions)
a woman and her kids, who have pretended to go to school, are in a desperate rush. But to where and from what?

Dva (Two) Mickey Nedimovic (Filoufilm Dani Barsch)
A Serb and a Croat step on a landmine simultaneously as they attempt to kill each other and realize their lives are now intertwined. I don't know how you sustain that for nearly half an hour but maybe they can!

Helium Anders Walter (M & M Productions)
A sick boy in Denmark hears magical stories from a hospital janitor 

Kush Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures) 
a teacher protects her sikh student from riots on a field trip 

Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) Selma Vilhunen (Tuffi Films)
A comedy about a family who wakes up late on the morning of a wedding 


RECORD/PLAY from jesse atlas on Vimeo.


Record/Play Jesse Atlas (Collaboration Factory) - complete film embedded above
For what it's worth, Focus Features is planning to adapt this sci-fi tinged short about a mysterious walkman that can transport you to the recording into a feature length film.

Throat Song Miranda de Pencier (Northwood Productions)
This one is about an Inuit woman with an abusive husband and a circle of supportive friends she finds.

Tiger Boy - Official Trailer [HD] from goon films on Vimeo.


Tiger Boy Gabriele Mainetti (Goon Films)
a young boy won't take his favorite wrestler's mask off. 

The Voorman Problem Mark Gill (Honlodge Productions)
Martin Freeman stars as a man interviewing a prisoner (Tom Hollander) who claims to be God


Best Shorts, Animated Feature, and Documentaries


Link File

Balder & Dash Dan Callahan on Alfre Woodard's contribution to 12 Years A Slave
Pixar Times on The Blue Umbrella failing to make the Academy Animated Short finalists
Huffington Post wants a return policy on Dallas Buyers Club's AIDS history

Awards Circuit notices some campaign trickery chez TWC. Fruitvale Station's lead actor is now supporting? and it's screenplay is Adapted. Whaaaa? 
Man at Arms crafting Mjölnir, Thor's Hammer
THR on the success of black cinema this year. I'm alarmed at some of these clickbait (racebait?) headlines lately on this topic but i love sentences like "The Butler's success in crossing over is attributed to Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, mainstream stars who relentlessly promoted the film"... relentlessly sounds so threatening given the context/headline. LOL!
AV Club kicks off a series of "firsties" with Guillermo del Toro. I'm not crazy about his films (I know this is an off consensus opinion) but he's always a good listen/read. Like this quote:

I’m not a brand. I’m an acquired taste. So who’s going to buy this? I’m a caviar-filled doughnut. There’s not a huge demand; it’s not going to be in every supermarket.

It would only take her 49 more years to get her ownFinally...
If you're still thinking about The Governor's Awards which brought us this hot pick, a smart off-mainstream honor, and those wonderful acceptace speeches, make sure to read Mark Harris's piece on why it's a travesty that these awards aren't still part of the Oscars. He calls it the worst decision the Academy ever made and I wholeheartedly agree. As stated in the comments of an earlier post, my whole indoctrination into cinephilia was prompted by the Oscars and I sought out and learned so much Old Hollywood BECAUSE of the ceremony's focus on multiple generations.  Meanwhile if you're still smiling from Angela Lansbury's win enjoy this old haiku for her at Dial M for Movies that's a sweet reminder of the anticipation.


Reader Spotlight: Paul Outlaw

If you spend time in the comments section of The Film Experience you might have noticed Paul Outlaw before. He's today's Reader Spotlight. I recently had the privilege of seeing him on stage at the Bootleg in L.A. (three more shows, readers - go see it!) in an experimental theater piece. I took an actress friend of mine and we had a great time.

So let's talk to Paul as we revive the weekly "Reader Spotlight" series!

NATHANIEL R: Why do you read The Film Experience?

PAUL OUTLAW: For one thing, I like serious film criticism that doesn't take itself too seriously; for another, there's more going on at the blog than just cinema talk. Theater, TV and film-tangential pop culture are all up for grabs. Oh yeah—it's a queer site that's not all about the gay. I guess I like contradiction and interesting juxtapositions.

In 1993 you starred in an Oscar winning short film. Did you attend the Oscars? What's your strongest memory from that?

Click to read more ...


Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse

Tim here. Today, the short film Steamboat Willie celebrates the 85th anniversary of its theatrical debut. And that makes today, according to Disney, the 85th birthday of Mickey Mouse, cinema icon and greatest company mascot in the history of mascots. This despite Steamboat Willie being only the third Mickey short completed (it was, however, the first one commercially distributed). But if the giant media conglomerate wants to semi-arbitrarily choose by diktat which day we are to gather in celebration of their most famous son, who I am to disagree?

Anyway, It’s an ideal excuse to revisit Steamboat Willie, one of the best of all early sound cartoons. Of which it was not the first, no matter what you might have heard; it’s certainly the most technologically sophisticated, though, and the one that introduces the idea that animals and inanimate objects make melodically squeaky noises when you poke at them. Thus revolutionizing the world of cartoon sound effects down to the present day...

Click to read more ...


The 2013 Best Animated Short Film short list

Hi everyone, Tim here. Those who know me in my other life at Antagony & Ecstasy are well aware of my affection for animation in its many forms, and starting this week, that’s going to be carried over here to the Film Experience. Officially, as of now, this space will be home to a weekly column about the current world of animation with, I suspect, regular guest appearances from classics of both American and international animated cinema.

And there's some pretty exciting news to kick things off. Right on the heels of the announcement of the 19 films submitted for consideration this year in the feature category, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the ten-film list of titles that will be competing for the Best Animated Short Oscar. It feels a little bit like a course correction after last year, which saw two major studio releases hit the final five: the only brand-name contestant in the lot is the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Get a Horse! , a new Mickey Mouse vehicle that’s going to be attached to Frozen when it makes its wide-release bow later this month. Rather conspicuously, The Blue Umbrella, Pixar’s annual short this year, failed to show up, perhaps because the plot is a functional retread of last year’s winning film Paperman.

Feral – Daniel Sousa, director, and Dan Golden, music and sound design (Daniel Sousa)
I know nothing of Sousa’s previous work, but the trailer makes this one look pretty incredible: a very penciled, scratchy aesthetic with the apparent illusion of mixed media.

Get a Horse! – Lauren MacMullan, director, and Dorothy McKim, producer (Walt Disney Feature Animation)
If nothing else, this sounds like it’s going to be a fun throwback to the more prankstery, old-school Mickey that Disney has been marketing all year. As the only big studio project, this is the one thing I’m willing to call locked for a nomination this year.


Gloria Victoria – Theodore Ushev, director (National Film Board of Canada)
Not only is the NFB one of the few national film programs that fulfills its mission of allowing talented people a change to make challenging, unusual work, it’s also great at making sure that work can be seen. By which I mean, you can watch this short online right now. Personally, I like the marriage of Shostakovich and 1920s-style lines and color, though the implicit narrative about civilization and warfare is a little overworked for such a small movie.

Hollow Land – Uri Kranot and Michelle Kranot, directors (Dansk Tegnefilm, Les Films de l’Arlequin and the National Film Board of Canada)
Right now the material online consists of a trailer and a clip, and though the very flat stop-motion animation is certainly striking, as is the dramatic darkness of the sets and lighting, it has the feel of a lot of other pantomime shorts out there. But there’s apparently quite a lot of story in there about the immigrant experience.

The Missing Scarf – Eoin Duffy, director, and Jamie Hogan, producer (Belly Creative Inc.)
Brightly colored and almost unbearably cute-looking, though we are promised that this will turn out to be ironic; you can watch the trailer for a taste. It stands out, but there’s not enough to say whether it’s going to be bright and imaginative and interesting, or suffocating in its overwrought pop-saturated images. George Takei as narrator does not immediately give one cause for hope.

Mr. Hublot – Laurent Witz, director, and Alexandre Espigares, co-director (Zeilt Productions)
A hand-hewn mechanized world in which a man lives in deliberate isolation, this one is going to live or die on the strength of its design, which seems from the brief trailer to be very much in the tradition of  City of Lost Children or Terry Gilliam at his least disciplined.That might be delightful in a short enough presentation; we'll have to wait and see.


Possessions – Shuhei Morita, director (Sunrise Inc.)
I can’t find more than a still online from this anime-style marriage of 2-D and 3-D animation technique (the same mix that helped Paperman to its Oscar), nor a terribly helpful description of the plot. That being said, this category loves impressive technological work, and this seems like it’s got that in spades.

Requiem for Romance – Jonathan Ng, director (Kungfu Romance Productions Inc.)
Another film available in its entirety online.The visuals are tremendous: spare lines, flowing water ink backgrounds, and a nice nod to traditional Chinese art overall. But God, is it appallingly precious: awww, the break-up is reflected in the fight choreography! Clever enough, but banal as all hell, and I would certainly rather watch it with the sound turned off, which is probably not what Ng was going for.


Room on the Broom – Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, directors (Magic Light Pictures)
A star-packed TV special from the creators of The Gruffalo (a nominee in 2010) and The Gruffalo’s Child (which didn’t even make the shortlist last year), made in a virtually identical style. I haven’t seen this one, but my problems with both Gruffalo films are identical (too long and slow-paced, the character design is very same-ey and uninteresting), and this doesn’t seem to be any different.

 Subconscious Password - Chris Landreth, director (National Film Board of Canada with the participation of Seneca College Animation Arts Centre and Copperheart Entertainment)
Landreth is a two-time nominee, and won in 2004 for Ryan, so it certainly doesn’t do to write this one off. But the deliberately gross mixed-media style (which you can see in the trailer) is absolutely not the kind of thing that everybody will respond to, and enough of it barely looks like “animation” as we typically think of it that I strongly suspect this one has a rough uphill battle.

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