All the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts are incredible. If you do not read anything else, know that you should see them now while they are still in theaters. They recently expanded to the Mayfair AMC and they have been running at The Oriental Theatre for a short time now. It was a surprise that such impactful pictures fit in such petite packages. You’ll find in this showcase personality, simplicity, emotionality, mystery, and even a few giggles.
On to the specifics.
This film centers on a young woman from Afghanistan living in Switzerland. She works to send money back to her family but she is not old enough for western union to allow her to do this. Her attempt to find help frames a beautiful coming of age story. “Parvaneh” was my favorite out of the five shorts in the Oscar showcase. We see “Parvaneh” wordlessly interact with this foreign Swiss world. It’s wonderful, capturing a perspective I’ve never seen before on film in a way that feels true. Like the budding friendship in this film, “Parvaneh” crosses barriers and lets us know that we are unique, yet not at all so different.
The Phone Call
“The Phone Call” is one phone call. A woman at a crisis center interacts with a suicidal older man. Their conversation has a distinct ebb. This is the tensest and darkest short. “The Phone Call” stands as another testament that Sally Hawkins is a treasure. She carries the short which acts as a wonderful introduction for people who have only seen her at the edges of mainstream crowd pleasers like “Godzilla” and “Paddington.”
So much of film is visual. By looking at the picture accompanying this short summary you get 50% of the experience of this film. This film is all from the fixed perspective of a camera looking at an artificial photography backdrop. People come and get their picture taken. The backdrop changes. Little stories of the families and individuals show a charming everyday slice of life.
“Aya” is about a woman who picks up someone from the airport. But this someone isn’t her someone. He is due for another cabbie and Aya is not even a cabbie to begin with. It’s not a case of mistaken identity, it’s an accidental low level deception that this woman sort of stumbles into. But what are her reasons? Who are these people, and what do you even do in a long car ride?
As someone who has driven a lot of people to the airport (hooray for random summer jobs), I can personally vouch for the natural limits that this space has on communication, connection, and company. The movie takes this thing, a car ride where usually both participants try to minimize or professionalize their temporary interaction, and pushes it into that weird place of real vulnerability that strangers can share.
Boogaloo and Graham
This short is a wonderful adorable comedy piece. The low stakes of the short revolve around two baby chicks that two little Irish boys adopt. The chicks get named Graham and Boogaloo. While there is a little bit more going on in the 1970s Belfast setting of the film, hearing the Irish kids just talk and go about their day is an experience that will leave you smiling.