by George Wolf
Fair warning: you’re not going to find many laughs in this year’s crop of Live Action nominees. But these fantastic short films come from all over the world to deliver important and consistently compelling statements.
Ala Kachuu (Take and Run)
Kyrgyzstan 38 mins. Writer/director: Maria Brendle
A young Kyrgyz woman (Alina Turdumamatova, excellent) has dreams of pursuing higher education with a scholarship. But when she’s kidnapped and forced to marry, her quest for freedom runs counter to long held traditions. Filmmaker Maria Brendle calls attention to a shockingly common practice with a stirring, sympathetic narrative.
Poland 30 mins. Writer/director: Tadeusz Lysiak
In rural Poland, Julka (Anna Dzieduszycka, heartbreaking) works as a maid and dreams of a better life. A handsome truck driver (Szymon Piotr Warszawski) stirs hopes for romance, so Julka searches for the perfect dress for date night. In just 30 minutes, writer/director Lysiak delivers a fully crafted take on loneliness with a devastating final shot.
The Long Goodbye
United Kingdom/Netherlands 13 mins. Director: Aneil Karia Writers: Aneil Karia, Riz Ahmed
During a busy, laughter-filled family gathering, a TV news report delivers subtle foreshadowing about the brutality that will soon be at the family’s front door. The question is “Where are you from?” Karia and Ahmed deliver the answer is blistering, defiant fashion.
On My Mind
Denmark 18 mins. Writer/director: Martin Strange-Hansen
Henrick (Rasmus Hammerich) stops in to a nearly empty bar for some badly-needed shots of whiskey. He spots a karaoke machine, and will not be denied the chance to be filmed singing “Always on My Mind.” Have the tissues handy for this lovely take on love, death, and the power of great song.
United States 19 mins. Director: KD Davila Writers: KD Davila and Omer Levin Menekse
In the near (very near?) future, a young man named Mateo (Erick Lopez) is walking to work when he’s arrested by a police drone threatening force. Unaware of the charges and desperate to talk to a human being, Mateo is thrust into a completely automated justice system with a focus on profit and proficiency. It’s thought-provoking, darkly comic and completely terrifying.