Academy Award shorts celebrate globe
This year's Academy Award nominated short films are funny, warm, heartfelt and touching, and represent a wide range of talents from across the globe.
Nominees come from the UK, France, Norway, China, Switzerland, Israel and the U.S. — backgrounds as diverse as the films themselves. But the themes they touch on are universal, showcasing shared aspects of the human experience.
The five animated titles vary in terms of content, themes and the mediums in which they're presented. "Feast," from Walt Disney Animation Studios, will be familiar to filmgoers who saw it in front of last year's "Big Hero 6." The story of a dog who views the changes in his owner's love life through the meals he's given celebrates food and companionship and finds the ways in which they're linked. "Feast" is worlds away from "The Bigger Picture," the surrealist tale of two brothers caring for their elderly mother that is told through an animation style that utilizes what look like canvas paintings.
"Me and My Moulton" has a simple, charming aesthetic that recalls the late '60s/early '70s animation styles, and tells the story of three adolescent sisters longing to be normal, a theme to which anyone can relate. "The Dam Keeper," which is so lovingly rendered it feels like it was ripped from the pages of an illustrated children's book, is about bullying, friendship and trust. It unfolds in a town full of animals and centers on a pig who runs the town windmill and keeps dark clouds from poisoning the air.
The final animated short, "A Single Life," is the slightest of the bunch, and tells the story of a vinyl record which, when played, allows the listener to skip through the various stages of life.
The live action shorts are similarly varied. The best of the group, "Parveneh," is about an Afghan immigrant looking to send money back home when she meets and befriends a punk girl in Zurich. It's a cross-cultural story with a strong lead performance from Nissa Kashani, who plays the title character.
In "The Phone Call," Sally Hawkins plays an operator at a suicide prevention hotline who gets a call from a lonely man (Jim Broadbent) who is nearing his end. They make an unlikely connection, much like the two characters in "Aya," about a woman who poses as an airport chauffeur and picks up a stranger and drives him to his destination.
"Boogaloo and Graham" is a sweet story of two precocious kids raising a pair of chickens as pets. The most puzzling of the shorts is "Butter Lamp," about a photographer who shoots groups of families in front of various backgrounds.
2015 Academy Award Nominated Short Films
Running time: 210 minutes
At the Detroit Film Theatre Friday-Feb. 19