27 Days of Oscar: Day 19b The Live Action Shorts



Short Film (Live Action)
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
The most brutal of any of the live action shorts I’ve seen, Esteban Crespo’s film is told in flashback by a young man addressing a gathered assembly of students. He relates the tale of two Spanish doctors in Africa who encounter the child soldiers of a rebellion, of whom the speaker was one. The disturbing and bloody story examines not just the horrors of war, but how they affect people long after the war is over. If the script is a little clunky, it doesn’t seem unrealistic and the camerawork is quite good. A commanding performance from Juan Tojaka as the lead child soldier and Alejandra Lorente as one of the doctors make it a solid entry.

Avant Que e Tour Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
This gripping tale of a woman’s attempt to escape with her children from her abusive husband is beautifully constructed. Slowly revealing information a parcel at a time, the tension remains taut throughout as if it were a spy thriller. At each step, we are rooting for her and the co-workers trying to help her while despising those who seem to blame her for her situation. Director and writer Xavier Legrand avoids showing a single act of violence, but coaxes a fantastic performance from Lea Drucker who encapsulates all of her character’s fear, shame and strength. [It should be noted that technical issues caused a huge disservice to this remarkable film and quite frankly, it should have been started over at our screening. For the first part of the film, the subtitles were half out of frame which made it look as if only parts of the film were translated or long sentences were captioned with only two words. While the cast is strong enough that much of what was being said was clear, most of the audience (myself included) seemed puzzled and distracted by what seemed an odd choice for the filmmakers. That being said, the film as a whole was strong enough to overcome the rough start and I hope our experience was an exception to how the film is being shown.]

Helium
This beautiful film directed by Anders Walter tells the tale of a terminally ill boy in a hospital, whose vitality has been dimmed not only by his illness, but by his concerns that Heaven seems such a boring place to go. His love of hot air balloons inspire a new orderly to tell him tales of Helium, a magical alternative afterlife. The stories lift the boy’s spirits even as his sickness gets worse. It’s an exquisitely crafted film with gorgeous imagery and strong performances from the cast (Casper Crump, Marijana Jankovic and Pelle Falk Krusbæk).

Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
Ever have one of those days when absolutely everything goes wrong? This Finnish film from director Selma Vilhunen is the funniest of the entries, and quite possibly of the last few years. Engaging performances that never get overblown, despite the ridiculous circumstances, drive this simple story of a family trying to get out of the house to a wedding.

The Voorman Problem
Director and writer Mark Gill’s excellent screenplay, based on a section of English novel number9dream, is a Twilight Zone-esque story of a psychiatrist called in to examine a prisoner who believes himself to be God. Smart humor and fantastic camera work on top of a terrific cast, led by Martin Freeman, make for a fascinating film. However, the movie ends just as we’ve gotten completely engaged. While it’s better to “leave them wanting more” than “overstay your welcome,” the short almost feels like a teaser for a longer project.

If you missed the overview of the Animated Shorts, check it out here.

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