Of the ten films nominated for Best Picture, at least six must run 199 minutes or more. On the other hand, James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequel is long enough to require bathroom breaks. On the other hand, Daniels’ ADHD-style “everything everywhere at once” proves equally stressful, as he devotes every hyperactive second to stimulating easily distracted crowds. It is enough to make people grateful for the Short Film category but still participate in the Short Film category, where nominees adhere to a strict 40-minute time limit. This year’s crop — “2023 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action” — runs in under two hours. The international gathering, available in theaters and on countless streaming platforms, can be challenging, but it is never more than welcome.
Set in a rare corner of Greenland, “Ivalu” follows an indigenous girl as she tries to understand the disappearance of her sister. It’s a visually stunning 16 minutes long, filled with drone shots over a frozen arctic landscape as young woman Bebalok (Mila Hellmann-Kreuzmann) follows a crow across the ice-covered landscape to the place where her sister, the main character (played by Neve Larsen) has taken her own life. . “Ivalu” presents one of those mysteries created mostly for the benefit of the audience, as flashbacks reveal that Pipaluk was well aware of what Ivalu suffered, as the two girls were forced out of the bedroom their father (Angunnguaq Larsen) shared, drunken nights . Dramatically speaking, it’s powerful withholding this information at first, and relying on us to put the pieces together. Confronting sexual abuse in such communities makes a topic worth addressing, Co-Directors Anders Walter and Bibaluk K. Jurgensen carefully.
The next entry, the darkly comic “Night Ride,” also hails from Scandinavia, as Norwegian helicopter pilot Erik Tveten attempts to cram a few social issues into 15 minutes — catnip for Oscar voters, apparently, considering they’ve outnumbered no. Countless shorts have been made in favor of this relatively preachy lot. Here, little guy Ebba (Sigrid Kandal Husjord) waits in the cold for a late-night tram. When the conductor gets off to use the bathroom, she climbs aboard and starts jamming the controls, and before she knows it, the train is running on its own. At the next stop, she picks up a few loud-mouthed passengers, who tease her about her stature before turning their attention to a young woman (Ola Hoemsnes Sandum) traveling alone. Ebba is reluctant to get involved at first, which is uncomfortable to watch but more realistic than the well-meaning feel-good ending, which finds the two outsiders becoming new best friends.
The mightiest of the five, Iranian director Cyrus Nashvad’s The Red Bag, also packs a political punch, though real-world echoes aside, this film stands on its own as a well-narrated thriller. Sixteen-year-old Ariane (Noelle Awad) has arrived in Luxembourg by herself, the last passenger with her luggage on a flight from Iran. At first, we can only imagine why she was reluctant to leave the airport, and she shares her unease as customs officers stop her at the exit. Is she smuggling something? Are her immigration papers in order? Nashvad then reveals the source of her anxiety: she is supposed to meet the older man (Sirkaw Gorani) whose marriage her father has arranged. Ariane makes a series of meek and inexperienced decisions—from taking off her veil to sneaking aboard a city bus—that only heighten the tension. Deft direction and compelling performances force us to a heartbreaking conclusion, at which point we realize this artistic and gorgeous girl’s struggle for independence has only just begun.
Only in the Oscars shorts category can the first contestant be a cut in Italian from a female director who celebrated the festival. In Le Pupille, Alice Rohrwacher brings a lighter twist to the themes tackled in her 2011 debut, “Corpo Celeste.” Once again, we see a religious institution through the eyes of a child—in this case, a Catholic orphanage run by nuns. From Charles Dickens (“Oliver Twist”) to Roald Dahl (“Matilda”), many authors have copied gold from the misfortune of children unreasonably bullied by adults. The formula is so reliable that Disney has collected a 37-minute short (which was produced by Alfonso Cuaron) for distribution in the United States.
In “Le Pupille,” the story centers around an unexpected confrontation between the Mother Superior (Alba Rohrwacher, who happens to be more of the “Singing Nun” type) and her more obedient resident, Serafina (Melissa Falasconi), who makes her bed and does her chores, only to be reprimanded outrageously. An unfair Christmas Eve scolding backfires when a decadent cake arrives, leaving the good girl – “Bad” to enjoy it on her own. It’s a nice if somewhat uneven story that should have the long-term advantage of raising awareness in the US about Rohrwasher’s work.
Last (and certainly least) of the nominees, Tom Berkley and Ross White’s “An Irish Goodbye” reunites estranged brothers Turlough (Seamus O’Hara) and Lorcan (James Martin) after the death of their mother. Ireland has long been a reliable source of inappropriate, borderline black humor – as this year’s finger-pointing drama “The Banshees of Inisherin'” proved – but these filmmakers don’t feel like the Martin and John Michael McDonagh of the future. Ma’s remains sit in a ceramic urn, Lorcan clutching his chest in various capacities. Before scattering the ashes, he insists on completing her bucket list. Do a flirty “Amélie” montage that would be more fitting for a MasterCard ad, in which the brothers string together a series of silly activities. A striking blend of sentimentality and mismatched humor (which includes a priest prone to gaffes and fart jokes), “Goodbye” is the only English-language nominee in the group; It’s also lighter than others, so don’t count it out.
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