The shortlists for the live-action and animated shorts categories at the Oscars include a diverse mix of styles and subject matters from around the world. Laurence Boyce previews the titles in the running for the final nominations
Live-action short film: the final 10
I Could Be Your Grandmother (Je Pourrais Etre Votre Grand-Mere) (Fr)
Dir/prod Bernard Tanguy. 19mins. Rézina Productions
A lawyer helps homeless people by writing their signs — including giving one woman the phrase ‘I could be your grandmother’ that comprises the film’s title. But as the signs prove successful, he finds himself overwhelmed by demand. A clever idea mixed with a strong social message that has won numerous public awards on the festival circuit.
Love At First Sight (UK)
Dir Michael Davies
Prod Sandra Gorel. 13mins. Spellbound Films
Two residents of a nursing home fall in love in a film that mixes humour and poignancy. Starring John Hurt and Phyllida Law, the star power of the film alongside its earnest intentions has seen it gain popularity and win a series of awards at festivals in the UK —including best short at the Rushes Soho Shorts Festival — and overseas.
Dir/prod Peter McDonald. 11mins, EMU Productions
A strong but light-hearted coming-of-age tale about a rebellious 11-year-old boy who — after an incident at Mass — is banned from watching his beloved football team, Liverpool FC. A chance at a reprieve means he must play the dutiful altar boy or never see a match again. Pentecost garnered high praise after winning best Irish short at the Cork film festival, as well as being selected to screen at Tribeca 2011.
Dir Max Zähle
Prod Stefan Gieren. 25mins. Hamburg Media School/Filmwerkstatt
An emotional film about a couple who adopt an Indian orphan who then disappears. They realise they are part of a child-trafficking problem. This student film has won a bronze medal at the 2011 Student Academy Awards alongside many other awards on the festival circuit.
The Road Home (UK-Ind)
Dir Rahul Gandotra
Prod Gandotra, Ameenah Ayub. 21mins. London Film School
A young boy is sent to boarding school in the Himalayas but finds himself out of place. He soon decides to journey all the way back to England. A product of the London Film School — whose shorts usually do very well — the film was the winner of a student prize at the Palm Springs International ShortFest among its accolades.
The Roar Of The Sea (Ger)
Dirs Ana Rocha Fernandes, Torsten Truscheit. 26mins. Niama Filmproduktion
An African refugee develops a friendly relationship in prison with his guard as they share the pain of losing loved ones — but the threat of deportation looms. While the film has had a relatively low profile on the circuit, its combination of strong acting and relevant story should ensure its popularity.
Dir/prod Elfar Adalsteins. 17mins. Berserk Films
A man escapes from his nursing home to have one final adventure. John Hurt stars in this dialogue-free film that is both heartwarming and technically impressive. Screenings at festivals including Rhode Island (where it won the Grand Jury Prize), Brest and Raindance have garnered mainstream publicity for the film.
The Shore (UK)
Dir/prod Terry George. 29mins. All Ashore Productions
Ciaran Hinds stars as Jim, returning to Northern Ireland after leaving 25 years previously at the height of the Troubles. He soon finds his best friend and ex-fiancée are now married. Directed by Terry George — co-writer of In The Name Of The Father and director of Hotel Rwanda — this blend of comedy and drama is beautifully shot and played, managing to deal with the Troubles in a clever and understated way.
Time Freak (US)
Dir Andrew Bowler Prod Gigi Causey. 11mins. Team Toad
A comedy about a neurotic man who invents a time machine — and how it goes disastrously wrong when he tries to make perfect the previous day. Yet to break out beyond the US festival circuit, this out-and-out comedy should prove a welcome antidote to some of the more serious fare on the shortlist.
Tuba Atlantic (Nor)
Dir Hallvar Witzo. 25mins. The Norwegian Film School
When 70-year-old Oskar discovers he is going to die, he decides to reconcile with his brother. But his sibling is across the ocean. A technically impressive film, this was a recipient of a gold medal at the Student Academy Awards and screens at the upcoming edition of the Clermont-Ferrand short film festival.
Animated short film: the final 10
The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr Morris Lessmore (US)
Dirs William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg. 16mins. Moonbot Studios LA
A paean to the power of books, this is a hugely impressive mix of animation techniques and styles. While successful on the US festival circuit, the app version of the film — which turns it into an interactive book — has proved a huge hit with iPad owners.
I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat (US)
Dir Matthew O’Callaghan
Exec prod Sam Register. Warner Bros Animation
Sylvester and Tweety Pie are given a 3D facelift in this CGI romp. Screened theatrically in front of Happy Feet Two, the film is a fun slice of modern nostalgia that makes enjoyable use of the eponymous Mel Blanc novelty record as its narrative.
La Luna (US)
Dir Enrico Casarosa. 7mins. Pixar Animation Studios
Pixar’s La Luna is the poetic story of a young boy who takes a boat trip with his father and grandfather, unaware of the adventure they will undertake. Praised at its premiere at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, La Luna will be seen widely when it plays in front of new Pixar feature, Brave, later this year.
Dir Juan Pablo Zaramella. 6mins. JPZtudio
Luminaris is impressive stop-motion animation about a world that is controlled by time and light, and the man who wants to change it. This hugely inventive film won the audience award at Annecy in 2011.
Magic Piano (Pol-Nor-Chi)
Dir Martin Clapp
Prod Hugh Welchman. 30mins. BreakThru Films
Extracted from the animated sections of the 3D family feature The Flying Machine, this is the story of an old grand piano that turns into a magical airborne contraption. A well-crafted and enjoyable work.
A Morning Stroll (UK)
Dir Grant Orchard
Prod Sue Goffe. 7mins. Studio AKA
This marvellously witty film, loosely based on a Paul Auster story, follows a chicken through important moments in modern history. Very popular on the festival circuit due to its humour and innovation, the film has picked up a Bafta nomination.
Paths Of Hate (Pol)
Dir Damian Nenow. 10mins. Platige Image
A stylish affair about two fighter pilots who engage in a battle based on rage and fury, this breathtaking work has a manga/comic-book aesthetic. It has picked up awards at the likes of Comic-Con.
Specky Four-Eyes (Fr)
Dir Jean-Claude Rozec
Prod Mathieu Courtois. 9mins. Vivement Lundi!
A boy who wears spectacles finds — when he takes off his glasses — that his world is full of fantastic creatures and danger. A beautifully realised black-and-white film with narration by Jean-Pierre Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon.
Sunday (Dimanche) (Can)
Dir Patrick Doyon. 11mins. National Film Board of Canada
National Film Board of Canada animations are typically good and this delightful tale about a grey Sunday seen through the eyes of a child is no exception. Screenings have included the 2011 Berlinale.
Wild Life (Can)
Dirs Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby. 14mins. National Film Board of Canada
In 1909, an Englishman is sent to the Canadian border. His positive letters home belie the reality of his situation. Another extremely accomplished effort from the National Film Board of Canada, Wild Life is a gently humorous film with an undercurrent of pathos