Live Action Shorts Can Stand Tall at Oscars
The Oscars take place Sunday evening, and there will be the usual glitz and glamour of Hollywood on display. But just as deserving of a place on the red carpet are films you probably haven’t heard of: the live action shorts. Four out of the five films nominated in this category are from abroad; three of them are student films. Their budgets were modest, resources limited and distribution narrow, but these thoughtful stories all caught the eye of the voters.
‘The Crush’ — directed by Michael Creagh (15 minutes)
What it’s about: Eight-year-old schoolboy Ardal is in love. But the object of his affection is his teacher, the gorgeous Miss Purdy. When she becomes engaged to her unworthy boyfriend, Ardal takes drastic action.
“The Crush” was a family endeavor of the Creagh clan, originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland: Oran Creagh, 8, is the lead role; his father, Michael, is the writer and director; and uncle Jim is the cinematographer.
‘Wish 143’ — directed by Ian Barnes (23 minutes)
What it’s about: A 15-year-old boy discovers he has just months to live and is granted one wish from a charity organization. But what he wants is to become a man by spending an hour alone with a naked woman.
The film’s writer, Tom Bidwell, had cancer as a teenager. When the “wishman” came to visit him, he asked for a ride on a Concorde airplane, but because of budget restrictions he ended up with a miniature pool table. For “Wish 143,” Bidwell says he tried to come up with the most daring wish one he could think of.
“Wish 143” is one of two nominated short films this year to come from a student at the National Film and Television School in England. (“The Confession,” below, is the other.)
‘God of Love’ — directed by Luke Matheny (18 minutes)
What it’s about: Lounge singer and darts champion Raymond Goodfellow has his prayers answered when he receives a package of passion-inducing darts. “God of Love” was Luke Matheny’s thesis at NYU’s graduate film program. He’s also the writer, director and lead actor.
‘Na Wewe’ — directed by Ivan Goldschmidt (18 minutes)
What it’s about: There is civil war in Burundi in 1994, and rebels mainly composed of ethnic Hutus are fighting a national army with a majority of Tutsis. “Na Wewe” (“You Too” in Kirundi) recounts an attack by rebels on a minivan carrying ordinary citizens.
The script was written by Jean-Luc Pening, a Belgian agricultural engineer, who while working in Burundi in 1994 was shot in the head by a military patrol, leaving him blind. Fifteen years later, Pening highlights this genocidal war.
‘The Confession’ — directed by Tanel Toom (26 minutes)
What it’s about: Quiet and sincere 9-year-old Sam is nervous about his first church confession: He hasn’t committed sin, therefore he cannot be absolved. His best friend helps him to perpetrate one, and an innocent prank turns into tragedy.
A student at the National Film and Television School in England, writer and director Tanel Toom hit a major bump during filming when an actress called in sick with swine flu on the day of the shoot. Toom had two hours to find a new actress because it was the only day he could film the scene.