2017 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: DI’s Chosen Three
By Lily Goodman
There’s something to be said about a film that has a runtime of forty minutes or less and utilizes that time well, creating a well-developed story with well-developed characters. These films may not be as well-known, but that doesn’t negate their importance and authenticity, as it takes a special craft to make them, one that is different than that of the average feature-length.
Fortunately for Iowa City’s movie buffs, FilmScene, 118 E. College St., will host their annual screening of the Oscar-Nominated Shorts on February 10, a little more than two weeks before the stars take to the red carpet. This gives us plenty of time to make up our minds and cast our predictions about this year’s winners. The Daily Iowan recently had the opportunity to view the shorts ahead of the screening, and has catalogued some of the pieces to look out for in the coming weeks.
Animated: Personally, my favorite was Bulgarian filmmaker Theodore Ushev’s Blind Vaysha. The short tells the story of Young Vaysha, a girl born with a left eye that can only see the past and a right eye that can only see the future, meaning she’s blind to the way things look right in front of her. Tormented by the two realities, Blind Vaysha, as the people of her village dubbed her, must reconcile with her unusual ability to see everything but the present.
Like most animated films, Blind Vaysha mixes its own animation with a more adult theme. Ushev’s use of a Cintiq tablet to make his linocut-style visuals come to life helps to create a stylized image of the Old World, while actress Caroline Dhavernas’s serene narration gives the film its classic folk-lore element. Probably the freshest take on animation out of the five, Ushev’s eight-minute short will bring joy to children and adults alike.
Animated-Short Nominations: Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl & Piper.
Live Action: Hands down, my winner for Live Action Short is the Swiss-French drama, La Femme Et Le TGV (The Railroad Lady). The first nomination for filmmaker Timo von Gunten the film stars Jane Birkin as Elise, a lonely, stubborn woman who begins a letter correspondence with the train conductor of the German TGV. After the train is forced to take another route, no longer going past her home, Elise takes it upon herself to search for her new man.
Despite the fact that the critically-acclaimed Jane Birkin is the star of the film, La Femme Et Le TGV delves into the delicate balance between the ways of the past and the ways of the future. Birkin delivers a vulnerable yet humorous performance as an older woman grappling with such balance, and that, coupled with the beautifully composed cinematography, earn von Gunten’s thirty-minute short a place at the top.
Live Action-Short Nominations: The Railroad Lady, *Enemies Within*, *Silent Nights*, *Sing* & *Timecode*
Documentary: Choosing my winner for the documentary short was near impossible because I found them all touching, albeit in slightly different ways. *The White Helmets*, *Watani: My Homeland* and *4.1 Miles* all depict the struggles of modern-day refugees, with *The White Helmets* and *Watani: My Homeland* the most pertinent to the current situation due to their coverage specifically on Syrian Refugees. Dan Krauss’ short, *Extremis*, follows palliative care specialist, Dr. Jessica Zitter of Highland Hospital’s ICU while she treats and helps the families of the patients make the difficult, heartbreaking decisions about what to do next. *Joe’s Violin*, a more subtle reference to the horrors of war and the struggles of those fleeing it, tells the story of Holocaust survivor, Joseph Feingold as he donates his cherished violin of seventy years to twelve-year-old, Brianna Perez, a dedicated student and violinist at the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls and the friendship that develops between the two. Ultimately, this category was too hard for me to choose a winner, so I think I’ll have to leave it up to the “experts.”
Documentary-Short Nominations: *The White Helmets,* *Watani: My Homeland,* *4.1 Miles,* *Extremis* & *Joe’s Violin*
Friday, February 10
FilmScene 118 E. College St.