Outtakes: Oscar Nominated Shorts

For the fourth year in a row, all 15 Oscar nominated shorts – animated, live action, and documentary – will find screen time at the Gateway Film Center (1550 N. High St). The run is a Gateway exclusive and an excellent opportunity for Oscar completists to get a chance to peek at some nominees that could otherwise go unseen.

According to Gateway president Chris Hamel, his theater gets the exclusive run because the series has done well for the theater.

“We’ve done a little better each year,” he says. “Last year we sold out several screenings of all three programs. I think that is the primary reason the distributor sticks with us.”

And what drive’s Hamel’s interest in booking the series? “As an Oscar buff, I really just want to see everything before they announce the winners,” he admits.

The animated program includes lighter fare than recent years. Disney’s slight, romantic “Paperman”, Pes’s brief but fun “Fresh Guacamole”, and the quickly recognizable “Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’” – following the wee Simpson through a day at the Ayn Rand School for Tots – are here for grins.

For something a little heavier, Minkyu Lee’s “Adam and Dog” unspools an origin story for domesticated animals, while the real charmer, Timothy Reckart’s “Head Over Heels”, offers a bittersweet love story likely to take the prize.

Oscar does like its devastating live action shorts, and the 2012 list does not disappoint. Tales of war torn childhood woes and the punishment of Alzheimer’s populate the series and promise to wring tears. From the daily lives of little boys growing up in the rubble of war comes both Afghanistan’s “Buzkashi Boys”, and Somalia’s particularly fascinating portrayal, “Asad”.

Yan England’s “Henry” boasts a poignant turn from Gerard Poirier as the titular concert pianist plagued by old age and the mystery of his lost love, while “Curfew” offers some very sketchy adventures in babysitting.

For something darkly surreal, “Death of a Shadow” spins a ghostly love story set against the violence of WWI.

This year’s nominated documentaries explore human connections among the elderly, the terminally ill, and the homeless. Intimate, moving , and surprisingly hopeful “Inocente”, “Kings Point”, “Open Heart”, “Redemption”, and “Mondays at Racine” feel more like a theme-driven series than a set of disparate but excellent shorts.

It’s the quality and the rarity that draws Hamel year after year. “Personally, I consider it a necessity to bring films to Columbus that may not have otherwise played here. These short films, obviously all of high quality, allow us to present something to Columbus film fans they can’t see anywhere else.”

For more information, visit www.gatewayfilmcenter.com and theoscarshorts.shorts.tv.

Originally published on Columbus Underground

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