Oscar Nominated Shorts Take Cinema du Parc

The Dress by Tadeusz Lysiak The Dress by Tadeusz Lysiak

The annual fare of Oscar nominated short films are playing at Cinema du Parc, starting February 25, 2022.

The five live action shorts nominated for the Oscars this year are:

Maria Brendle’s beautifully filmed short Ala Kachuu (Take and Run), brings us the stunning landscape of Kyrgyzstan. It is a story about bride kidnapping, where a young girl Sezim (played brilliantly by Alina Turdumamatova) is married off against her consent. While Sezim wishes to travel to Bishkek and study, she is forced back into a marriage with a man she doesn’t know, and the horrors of a forced existence start to close in on her bit by bit. Rich in color and imagery, this short through its 38-minute run-time gives us a tad too many characters yet is a very poignant insight into a world that seems unfamiliar, but equally telling.

Director Martin Strange Hansen’s On My Mind explores grief, the loss of a loved one, in the most fascinating way. The morning the doctors plan to take his wife off life support, Rasmus Hammerich playing Henrick stumbles into a local watering hole, where he encounters a sweet bartender Louise (Camilla Bendix) and her stern boss Preben (Ole Boisen). Henrick has a singular mission to sing karaoke for his dying wife. Henrick’s choppy performance of Willie Nelson’s classic “Always on My Mind” provides a perfect blend of touching musical interlude and shades of comedy. Dabbling between his singular desire to sing this song, the opposing reaction of the bar owner Preben, and the oodles of empathy from Louise, this is a touching tale that gives us a beautifully crafted short, rich in characters and themes

Please Hold is director K.D. Davila’s take on surveillance, futuristic incarceration all with the tropes of sci-fi. The film lives with veiled references to the criminal justice system and how broken it is, and how surveillance is slowly being handed over to automated machines and robots. The film potentially could have been a personal story of struggle of someone on the inside, as the perils of incarceration remain unchanged, even with the intervention of technology. The film left me wanting more from what was on offer yet does provide a different insight into where our criminal justice system could be headed.

My favorite of the five nominated live action shorts, The Dress tells the story of Julia who works as a cleaner in a hotel somewhere in rural Poland. Directed by Tadeusz Lysiak the film tackles identity, acceptance of self, expression of sexuality and the burden of being fetishized for a singular attribute of one’s body. Julia’s life seems mostly inert, till she meets a trucker, who shows interest in Julia, only to fetishize Julia for their height. Early disdain turns into interest which then turns ugly, as Julia’s desires and dreams are put to test in this emotionally affecting story that shows how reality wins over fantasy.

Director Aneil Karia’s The Long Goodbye stars actor Riz Ahmed, which speaks of the ugliest side of ‘othering’ of a brown family, who are in the midst of a family celebration. Their everyday lives are ruptured by a gang of thugs/armed guards force their way into the home and assault everyone, even taking the young ones hostage.  The short plays out more like a video monologue towards the end of its 12 minutes runtime, as Riz’s character speaks the truth of belonging, othering, in response to the question of where someone is from. While the emotion was all there, visual storytelling and a cinematic arc seemed absent.

The five animated shorts nominated for the Oscars this year are:

Based on true events, Hugo Covarrubias’s Bestia explores the life of a secret police agent during the military dictatorship in Chile. Her relationship with her dog, her body, her fears, and frustrations revealing a grim fracture of her mind and of the country; metaphorical of a history and of a life (lives).

A co-production between the National Film Board of Canada and Beryl Productions International, Affairs of the Art is a fabulous story of a family’s obsessions, unique personality types, brilliantly done through this 16-minute hand drawn animation continuing the series that began with animators, filmmaker’s duo Joanna Quinn and Les Mills’ 1987 film Girls Night Out, Body Beautiful (1990) and Dreams & Desires (2006). Quinn’s visual style is fluid and dynamic with loose, broad pencil strokes, complemented by Mills’ brilliant comic writing. This is a must watch!

Anton Dyakov’s Boxballet juxtaposes the life of a boxer and a ballerina, as their paths cross, revealing that they have more in common than they thought, and also how one’s life can easily find empathy in the other. Visually stunning, this is my personal favorite for the imagery, the storytelling, and the emotions that it evokes of forming unlikely friendships.

Dan Ojari and Mikey Please co-direct this Netflix short Robin Robin, about a robin that grows up being raised in a family of mice. Fitting in, living up to family expectations and how differences make us unique and also help bond with the ones we love, this is a heartfelt tale of a bird looking to find its moment of flight.

The Windshield Wiper, directed by Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez is a film is based on a series of paintings Mielgo made. Sitting in a café a person poses the question, ‘What is love’? Through a collection of different situations (visually expressed as vignettes), we are brought to the response to this universal query.

Cinema du Parc will showcase the films until February 28. For info, click HERE.