Oscars Best Short Film, Live Action Nominees
The five nominated films in this category are an interesting collection. Two of them deal with the immigration issue that is haunting so many countries other than the United States.
In Silent Nights, you observe a black man from Guyana who is fighting to get established in Denmark. Forced to seek a bed at the Salvation Army, he is repeatedly subjected to racial attacks from young white male residents of that Scandinavian land. In the process, he falls in love with a female volunteer at the facility, and they begin an intense relationship.
However, while they are discussing the possibility of marriage, she discovers on his phone that he has a wife and children back home in Africa. When she begs him to simply leave and return to them, he says he can’t with any dignity unless he is able to raise some money for their support.
The film confronts the issue concerning what lovers would do when caught in that position. Ironically, the Salvation Army metaphorically provides salvation in the end, and you end up with a soft spot in your heart for our tortured couple.
The French then bring us the film Enemies Within. The entire movie takes place in an interrogation room where a young French official is interviewing an older Algerian man who is applying for French citizenship. Despite the fact that the applicant has been a resident of France since leaving Algeria in the late 1960s, it is clear that the fact he is a Muslim is going to provide enormous problems.
His interrogation is pointed and a bit sinister, and it soon becomes obvious that he is going to never have his citizenship approved without naming names related to his attendance at a mosque.
In a sense, the film reminds you of what Muslims are going through in our country today. It is as ugly and hateful as the treatment of our Algerian in this film. Unfortunately, this topic does not make for an entertaining movie because the subject matter is so chilling.
My Three Personal Favorites
The first was a film called Timecode from Spain. It only lasted 15 minutes, and it opens with a young woman whose job is to monitor security at a parking garage. Her principal obligation was to review security camera screens on several floors to make sure everyone was safe.
Informed by her boss that the taillight of a car had been reportedly damaged on a certain floor, she rolled back the film and saw her fellow employee, the person she replaces every morning, dancing in an entertaining fashion on every floor of the garage.
As she watches, she leaves a note for her replacement, the dancer, which refers to a time location on one of the garage’s cameras. When he plays it, he sees that she is now dancing in various creative forms.
When the two are jointly discharged for their actions, their young replacement is asked to view their conduct on the various screens. You then watch our two employees dance as if they are in some Broadway spectacle, and you simply can’t take your eyes off either one of them.
The fourth film was from Switzerland, entitled The Railroad Lady. It is a rewarding film about not letting go of the meaning of life as you age, and it will challenge for this year’s Oscar. In the movie, a train running at over 150 miles an hour speeds past a small residence twice a day. The first time is at approximately 6 o’clock in the morning, where a woman in her 60s wakes up so that she can smile out a window and wave a Red Cross flag at the train. It soon becomes apparent that she began doing this when her adult son was a child, and she has never stopped.
Additionally, she rides her bike into town where she runs a bakery. However, given that her husband has died, she has let the quality of her business suffer. Her only attachment is a canary that she brings from her home to her bakery in a cage on the back of her bike.
The strength of the film arrives when the train’s route is suddenly changed and it will no longer pass her house. She has been engaging in correspondence with the conductor of that train, and it appears that her tiny world is going to be robbed of the last thing that provides any interest to her life.
In the process, just when her son is urging her to simply call it quits and go live in a retirement home, she finds out that the key to life is what lies in front of her, not behind. When you see her dancing in her shop, you kind of wish you could dance with her.
However, I was left choosing the Hungarian film Sing as the best picture of the bunch. This is a cute little movie, 25 minutes in length. After a little girl called Zsodi is forced to enter a new grade school after her family moves, she is asked to participate in a school chorus, a group that has repeatedly won a great number of contests.
Unfortunately, Zsodi is quickly informed by Erika, the strict director of the chorus, that she doesn’t have the training to sing with the group. Accordingly, Zsodi is instructed just to mouth the words and pretend she is singing. She is further instructed to tell no one.
The movie is at all times charming and engaging, and Zsodi’s friends soon become shocked that a number of students are also directed to simply pretend they are singing. The kids develop a strategy that leads to a remarkable conclusion, and it left me believing that this is the film that will win the Oscar in the Oscar-nominated live-action shorts.