This year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Short Live-Action Film comprise a 107-minute program, with material ranging from the comic to the tragic.
Basil Khalil’s “Ave Maria” (Palestine/France/Germany) unfolds at a Roman Catholic convent, along an Arab road in the West Bank, where the normally silent nuns have their routine disturbed by Jewish settlers with car trouble. What unfolds is a comedy of orthodox manners and unorthodox solutions.
A London-based typographical artist suffers from stuttering, but has struck up a flirty relationship with a woman online. There, he is free to be witty, even coloring his text with emotions, adding phrases like “begrudging tone.” Benjamin Cleary’s “Stutterer” (U.K./Ireland) depicts his panic when the two agree to meet in person.
Things start out reasonably normal in Patrick Vollrath’s “Everything Will Be OK” (Germany). A divorced dad picks up his young daughter for a visit, and they have some fun in the toy shop and later, the passport office. Uh oh. Things get dark quickly in this emotionally wrenching domestic drama.
Jamie Donoughue’s drama “Shok” (Kosovo) is based on true events and takes place during the Balkan conflict of the late 1990s. Two Albanian boys make the mistake of dabbling in black-market commerce with Serbian soldiers, and the results are predictably devastating.
Director Henry Hughes based his short drama “Day One” (USA) on his experiences while serving in Afghanistan. The film depicts the typically atypical work day of a young Afghani-American woman hired as an interpreter for the army, and the fraught situation that taxes procedure. The solution requires all involved parties to bridge various cultural and military protocols.