The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011: Live Action | Chicago Reader

The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011: Live Action

Screenwriters learn to structure a story so that the action reaches a turning point at the halfway mark of the movie; this can be especially pronounced in the confines of a short film, though some of the best Oscar nominees I've seen are those that wholeheartedly embrace the strategy. From Ireland, Tanel Toom's The Confession introduces us to a pair of unruly Catholic schoolboys who are preparing to make their first confession (shades of the famous Frank O'Connor story "First Confession"). They can't quite figure out the point of the whole thing, but then they accidentally cause a horrific car crash on a country road that takes three lives, and only one of them is conscience-stricken. Other times the turning point is so subtle one barely recognizes it except in retrospect, as in Ivan Goldschmidt's powerful Belgian short Na Wewe. Set in 1994, during the first years of the Burundi civil war, it centers on a carload of people stopped at a roadblock by Hutu warriors, who want to weed out and murder any Tutsis in the vehicle. As the leader accepts the people's claims of other bloodlines the whole operation begins to fall apart, and the terrifying encounter ends in comedy. Three more nominees fill out the program: Luke Matheny's God of Love, Michael Creagh's The Crush, and Ian Barnes's Wish 143.


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