"Why watch the shorts," you may ask?
Telling a story in a short film is much more difficult than in a long narrative. Every word matters, and every shot must move the story forward because telling a story in under thirty minutes (most are under thirty minutes; they must be under 40 minutes to qualify) is no easy task. This year, the shorts are filled with entertainment and education. I have some favorites, but even if one or two don't work for you, you will be overwhelmed with the talent that shines through in a short amount of time. The documentary category will educate you, quickly evoke different emotions, and the animation will blow you away, make you smile (and cry), and marvel at the artistic talent required to gain access to the Oscar finalists. The live-action films will take you through why you should run, not walk, to the The Lincoln Theater starting this Friday. Grab some popcorn to learn, be entertained, and informed.
"Red, White & Blue," my favorite short this year, is in the live-action category. It is still marinating in my mind as I marvel at the surprise twist, riveting casting, perfect cinematography, and dialogue. It's close to perfect, and I can't wait to see what every person associated with it does next. That's another reason to go. You will see the upcoming masters of the craft of filmmaking, who often get their start in shorts, including George Lucas, to name just one.
For the documentary shorts, you will be getting five incredible quick-fix courses on all kinds of topics, but my pick is about China and Taiwan through the story of a woman who lives close to the China border. Her story and point of view are game-changing. Don't miss it; “Island in Between.”
"Letter to a Pig?" Who'da thunk? It's in the animated category and brings black and white etching to a new level. The story it tells, which revolves around the Holocaust, will open up new thoughts about a topic you thought you understood. I watched it twice. I always think I don't want to watch animated shorts because I don't care much for animated films in general, but they are always worth exploring visually. Their use of new animated techniques and storytelling make my head spin.
We are lucky to have the Oscar-nominated shorts available to our community. Not everyone gets to see them, and more often than not, they end up on a shelf after the award season, never to see the darkness of a theater again. Don't miss this opportunity. Don't miss this opportunity. I promise you won't regret it.
- Christine Merser
Review written for The Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta, Maine, where all of the Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action, Animated, and Documentary) are playing Friday, February 16 through Thursday Feb 22.