Short films tell us stories quickly, and often with greater effect than if we sat through a two hour movie. Those who make shorts may still be students, or accomplished filmmakers. There are Oscars given out each year for short films in three categories: animated, live action, and documentary. The Animated Shorts nominees for this year cover a wide range of themes and artistic styles. Let’s look at them in alphabetical order.
Blind Vaysha (6 minutes, directed by Theodore Ushev) is a bit of a parable told with expressionist art. When Vaysha was born she had one brown and one green eye. But it was more than just appearance. Her left eye only saw the past; her right only the future. So she was unable to see the world around her as it was in the moment. For example, when a suitor came, in one eye she could only see him as a child while the other eye saw him as an old man. It is a meditation on the importance of being able to live in the moment.
Borrowed Time (7 minutes, directed by Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj) is a story about the pain of the past. An aging sheriff returns to the scene of a tragic error he made as a child. With each step the memories become more painful. Perhaps he can find something here that will allow him to move beyond the grief and guilt that has been such a part of his life.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes (35 minutes, directed by Robert Valley) is the longest of these shorts, and as creates a much more involved story line. The narrator tells of his friendship with Techno Stypes, a hard-living man who is in China seeking a liver transplant. But to get the transplant, he must give up drinking. The narrator travels to China to try to keep Techno on the straight and narrow. The story has a kind of graphic novel feel, both in terms of the art and the storytelling style.
Pearl (6 minutes, directed by Patrick Osborne) takes place mostly within a car. Young Pearl and her father live there as they follow his dream of being a musician. As the years pass Pearl and her father face trials, but then Pearl sets off on her own dreams. There is a great song in the film. Osborne won the Oscar in this category two years ago for Feast.
Piper (6 minutes, directed by Alan Barillaro) is the film that many viewers will have seen, because it played along with Finding Dory. This is a delightfully cute story of a baby sandpiper whose mother is making it leave the nest to find its own food. It is about overcoming fears and the discoveries that can come from leaving one’s comfort zone.
All of these films are excellent examples of what can be done in a short film. My favorite of the bunch is Blind Vaysha because of the philosophical perspective it represents and for the expressionist art that it uses. However, it must be said that Piper is just too cute to ignore.
Photos courtesy Shorts HD