Film & Television

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

Silent Nights

Some critics are predicting that this second take on immigration will win the Oscar. Silent Nights is a love story about an idealistic young woman (Malene Beltfolt) in Denmark and a homeless immigrant (Prince Yaw Appiah) from Ghana. It addresses complicated issues — racism, poverty, alcoholism — with a clear sense of our shared humanity. Silent Night represents the sixth time producer Kim Magnussen has been nominated for a Live-Action Short, and if she wins, it will be her third Oscar. Director (and actor) Aske Bang co-wrote the script with his father. His earlier films, “Ladyboy” and “The Stranger,” also made powerful statements about the plight of sex workers and the issues facing a transgender woman.

 

Sing

Sing (or Mindenki) is the first Hungarian short to be recognized by the Academy in more than fifty years. Director Kristof Deák, an experienced international film editor, illuminates a different and disheartening form of school bullying. The new girl at a Budapest grammar school is eager to join the school’s lauded choir. But, its ambitious conductor decides that her voice is not quite up to snuff and tells the girl to lip synch instead. When the girl’s best friend (and the choir’s shining star) finds out, she hatches a marvelous plan with full cooperation of the rest of the choir. The result for the children is sweet revenge. For the audience, it’s sheer delight. You cannot help but root for the young heroines, played by Dorka Gáspárfalvi and Dorottya Hais, and Zsófia Szamosi is appropriately sinister as Sing’s villain.

 

Timecode

In this final utterly charming short, two security guards create a secret language, using modern dance to connect to each other in their otherwise monotonous and solitary work. Luna and Diego work back-to-back 12-hour shifts monitoring surveillance screens in an urban parking garage. One night, Luna rewinds and accidentally sees Diego dancing through his shift. She decides to leave him a timecode that corresponds to her own recorded performance. Communicating through elaborate modern dance (and hand-scribbled Post-It notes), the two effectively celebrate their otherwise unconnected lives. Timecode is the ninth short film for Spanish director Juanjo Giménez, and it won the Short Film Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016.

For more information about the nominated Shorts, including where to see them in select theaters and how to view them online or by subscription through your cable service, visit here.

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