As the Academy Awards set for February 28th approach, we take a look at the category of nominated short films. Here are a few picks from the nominees for Best Live Action Short, which are screening along with the Animated Shorts at Cinema du Parc.
Shok dir. Jamie Donoughue
This is a tender story about friendship surrounded by war. Petrit and Oki are two friends who find themselves strangely embroiled in the conflict that was the war in Kosovo in the 90s. Oki has a bicycle and Petrit hops on behind him to deliver paper rolls to solders who use them for cigarettes. Oki is weary of Petrit’s bold attempts to engage with soldiers on their turf, however Petrit convinces him to undertake another visit to the soldier’s camp, which puts them right in harms way. Seen through the point of view of the two young boys, this is a stunning tale of innocence caught in the middle of mindless violence.
The film is shot interestingly, using lots of close ups of the young actors playing the lead roles. The canvas of Kosovo, when we do get to see the countryside and the personal space of Petrit’s family, is gentle and universal. While Kosovo seems more than a quarter century old, this film reminds us how innocence always seems like the greatest victim of violence.
Ave Maria dir. Basil Khalil
A Jewish couple’s car breaks down in the Gaza Strip at the door of a convent. The statue of the Virgin Mother breaks into their windscreen, while their old mother in the backseat of the car is yelling to want to go pee. The son is annoyed at his mother’s incontinence, and the spicy mother pointedly tells him that she didn’t ask him to venture into enemy territory.
While this entire ruckus is transpiring outside the door, the Sisters of the convent are busy eating their simple meal, unperturbed by the happenings of the world. The wife finally decides to knock at the door of the convent, prompting the youngest of the Sisters to open to the door to the strangers.
From here on the coming together of humans, regardless of creed or religious beliefs, creates a hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable narrative that shows the sisters seeking God’s guidance to help their wonderful Jewish guests.
Director Khalil takes the eerie quiet of the West Bank and carves a story about our commonality as people and things that constantly bring us together. The film is appropriately titled ‘Ave Maria’ for the omnipresence of humanistic logic spread over the film.
The Oscar-nominated shorts are playing until February 17th at Cinema du Parc.