Film & Television

Oscars Preview: Live Action Shorts Offer Timely Topics and Sheer Delight

The average human being in 2017 has an attention span of seven seconds. (In case, you’re wondering, that’s a second less than the average goldfish.) With this in mind, the movie shorts of today may become the feature films of tomorrow. For now, though, they represent only a handful of the categories honored at the Oscars. The Academy recognizes Best Short Films in Documentaries, Animation and Live Action.

None of this year’s impressive Live Action Nominees hail from the U.S. There were 137 films under consideration and each of the five selected as official nominees clocks in at 30 minutes or less. But, don’t let their brevity fool you. Their subject matter runs the gamut from immigration, bullying, and aging, to the power and sheer delight of song and dance. In its own way, each short film also focuses on love.


Ennemis Intérieurs

Ennemis Intérieurs, which roughly translates to “Enemies Within,” is set in the 1990s during the Algerian Civil War. But, it could just as easily take place today. A French-Algerian man is applying for citizenship. After a tense interview about his allegiance (ironically, he was French when he was born because Algeria was still part of France), the questions move on to his religious beliefs and — more importantly — connections. As a Muslim, he has indeed attended services at a mosque, as well as “social meetings” with other men. After much grilling (tension mounts quickly in this brief but gripping drama), it becomes apparent that his future depends on naming these “brothers.” Ennemis Intérieurs is director Sélim Azzazi’s first film after a successful career as a sound editor for directors like Oliver Stone.


La Femme et le TGV

The lovely little film La Femme et le TGV, or The Woman and the Très Grand Vitesse, stars Jane Birkin, a former “it girl” and the inspiration behind the Hermès Birkin Bag. (And she’s marvelous here.) She plays Elise, a widow and pastry-maker who has religiously waved a Swiss flag at the passing high speed train twice each day for thirty years. One day, the conductor throws a note onto her lawn and thereby begins a true friendship and unexpected romantic adventure. The movie and Elise’s story prove that there’s always time for a happy (and somewhat surprising) ending. Self-taught Swiss writer/director Timo Von Gunten has already won a Grand Jury Prize at Park City and CWA Award in L.A. for La Femme’s screenplay.

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