The five films in the animation group include one work from Great Britain with four from the U.S. In all four of those available for preview, the artistic achievement conveys the story with beautifully rendered detail, some works using stop motion, others two-dimensional drawings, computer animation, or manipulation of objects. The U.K. entry, "Head Over Heels," finds Walter and Madge have drifted apart, she to live on the ceiling and he on the floor of their home. Cleverly they divide their worlds, but hanker to reunite. Walt Disney's "Paperman" offers lovely black and white sketches telling a tale of romantic longing. For the clever "Fresh Guacamole" the ingredients come from objects unusual for food. And the colorful and gorgeous "Adam and Dog" playfully follows the central canine who becomes acquainted with Adam in Eden.
The five live-action shorts, all serious dramas and running 18 to 28 minutes, include a Canadian and a U.S. film, a Belgian/French co-production plus U.S. co-productions from South Africa and Afghanistan. The latter, "Buzkashi Boys," set in Kabul conveys the lives of two impoverished Afghani boys who dream of glory playing Buzkashi, the national sport, a game resembling polo but played with a dead goat. Beautiful mountain landscapes contrast with struggles in a bleak environment.
Similarly, in "Asad" a Somali boy faces the threat of pirates in his fishing village. In "Henry" the problem is internal as dementia increases. "Death of a Shadow" gives a WWI soldier a Herculean task: capture 10,000 shadows and his imprisoned shadow will go free. All five works are technically superb with terrific acting.
In two separate programs, the live action shorts and the animated shorts nominated for an Academy award screen for one week only at Landmark's Tivoli Theatre, through Thursday, February 7th. English subtitles are provided when necessary. February 24th the Academy announces the winners of these fine nominees.