live action short film

Death of a Shadow (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Death of a Shadow (Dood Van Een Schaduw) (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Tom Van Avermaet, Ellen De Waele).

“Death of a Shadow” is an interesting little short that escapes both time and reality.  A deceased World War I soldier, Nathan Rijckx (Matthias Schoenaerts) works for a man, stuck in a limbo between life and death, and photographs the dying to be displayed in a gallery of shadows.  He works to have a second chance at life and is motivated by a woman he met the day he was killed.   Sarah Winters (Laura Verlinden) tried to save his life.

He hates his work, but he is so close to completing it he can hardly stand it.  He peruses his options and tries to find the least repulsive death to photograph, while still trying to satisfy his employer’s taste in art and composition.  His last picture, however, proves to be very difficult and he must make a decision between his own happiness and that of the woman he is smitten with.

The film is both a period piece and something outside of reality.  It is creative and well shot, although it is a lot of story to put into a short.  The production value of the short is really astounding.  It is very artistic and emotional, however they didn’t completely match the communication of that emotion with the production design.  That is a small complaint, however, for such a well made short.

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Buzkashi Boys (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Buzkashi Boys (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Sam French, Ariel Nasr).
Watched May 13, 2014.

Perhaps it was because of cultural differences, but I was pretty bored by Buzkashi Boys.  It was trying to make a statement about cultural differences, too.  Those of my generation are obsessed with the hashtag craze “#firstworldproblems,” in which one states something that is only deemed a problem in first world countries.  This film depicts the opposite of first world problems.  In fact, it is a story about a blacksmith’s son and a boy who lives on the street and how they both dream of a better life.

It is present day in Afghanistan and Rafi (Fawad Mohammadi) doesn’t want to be a blacksmith.  He wants to hang out with his friend Ahmad (Jawanmard Paiz), an orphan who lives on the streets.  The blacksmith (Wali Talash) doesn’t want either of these things for his son.  He wants to teach him a trade and how to support himself when he is no longer around.  Rafi and Ahmad run off and witness a game of Buzkashi–a local sport somewhat like horse polo but involving a dead goat.  Ahmad dreams of leaving the streets and becoming a famous and successful Buzkashi player.

The short takes us around Afghanistan, giving a humanity to what us in outside countries likely only see on the news.  The boys explore what was once a palace but is now rubble.  We see a crowded street full of cars, shops, and people, where Ahmad sells whatever he can in order to get by.  Rafi’s home is small and dirty, but he has a lot more than his friend.

What is special about this film is that a team of international filmmakers have come to Afghanistan to teach the locals how to make films.  They want to educate them and encourage them.  I would say getting a project nominated for an Oscar is pretty good encouragement.

If we view this film as a project in filmmaking, it is certainly a step in the right direction.  If we view this film as an insight into the Afghani lifestyle, it can be powerful.  However, the story was lacking and listless.  Even though it was only a short, I felt that the story telling needed a lot more meat and direction to really be a success.  The character development was okay.  The filming itself was pretty good, and especially from a trainee director who has never been to school for the subject, it is very impressive.  I hope that he continues to pursue filmmaking and will bring his skills back to Afghanistan.

Tuba Atlantic (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Tuba Atlantic (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
5/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Hallvar Witzo).
Watched October 31, 2012.

 

Out of all the short films I have seen so far from this year, this one is by far my favourite.  Humor, wit, and machine guns–what more can you ask for?

 

In a short film, you have to get to the point pretty quickly–something that Oskar (Edvard Hægstad) and his doctor (Terje Ranes) seem to understand.  Oskar has precisely six days to live.  “Would you like to die at the hospital or at home?” the doctor asks.  Being a stubborn old man stuck in his Norwegian old ways, he refuses all help and returns home where he counts out his last days on the calendar.

 

The next morning, his appointed “death angel” shows up–a young girl who is trying to earn her wings by helping the dying cope with their untimely demise.  Oskar, however, is not someone she had bargained for.  He seamlessly processes through her stages of dying–denial and anger being the first two–but what she didn’t expect was his extracurricular activities.

 

He is waging a war against the seagulls.  Yes, seagulls.  With machine guns, explosives, and even his own two feet.  Although his promise of death has not dulled his hate for the birds, it has softened his heart toward his brother, to whom he hasn’t spoken in a good thirty years.

 

If you aren’t a fan of short films, you will be a fan of this one.  If you are a fan of short films, you will be a fan of this one.  It is perfection, although once I tell you that it features a giant electric tuba built to reach all the way across the Atlantic you might not trust my judgment any more.  The acting is spot on, the timing of the humor is perfect, and despite the possibility of animal activists being incredibly put off by Oskar’s pastime hobbies, I hope that they can see the humor in the completely absurd old man.

 

The ending has just enough cheese with the continued pattern of perfect timing that the 25-minute short is rounded out nicely, with all loose ends tied and fewer seagulls soaring the skies.  If you have never listened to any of my suggestions before, you should definitely start now by watching Tuba Atlantic.

 

Sources: Time EntertainmentIMDB411maniaOpinionlessPaste MagazineSmells Like Screen SpiritThe Independent Critic