Short of the Week

Watch Oscar Short Film Nominees

SOTW / January 28, 2011

In our announcement Tuesday I mentioned my skepticism in finding any of the Short Film Oscar nominees online, but you, our readers, did not share my defeatist attitude and unearthed a couple! Thanks go out to Hans and Sam, now you can watch one film from each of the 3 short film categories: Documentary Short Subject, Short Film (Live-Action) and Short Film (Animation).

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still from the short film "Warriors of Quigang"

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Documentary Short Subject—The Warriors of Quigang: A Chinese Village Fights Back

In Quigang, a tiny hamlet of 1,900 people, a nearby chemical plant is polluting the land and water. Qiugang’s residents — working with a fledgling environmental group, Green Anhui — began to try to do something about it. The filmmakers, Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon, previously won the 2006 Oscar for Short Subject with another China documentary, The Blood of Yingzhou District.

The film is long by short film standards, 40 min, and how you feel about it is dependent on your attitude towards documentaries in general. It is not particularly lovely to look at, nor does it have any novelty factors that mark successful recent documentaries like Exit Through the Gift Shop or Catfish. Instead it is straight old-school in style—take a camera and shoot people talking and going about their day—and the story they tell is an old one of corporate malfeasance that we’ve seen many times before.

That said, I really liked it. The filmmakers definitely put in their time—3 years was this short in the making—and familiar stories are always inspiring in documentaries as a sign that we as humans can rise up and meet the standards set by our cinematic heroes. Zhang Gongli is that hero in this film, a 60 year old man who steps up when no one would to spearhead his village’s efforts against the chemical factory and local government. It is a great story on a micro-level, and when Zhang takes a trip to Beijing to attend an environmentalist conference, the macro-implications are fully appreciated. The drama of the film is not played up to the extent it could have, and it does not possess much style or panache, but if you feel a documentarian’s job is not to be an artist, but to simply identify a good story and let the people tell it, Ruby Yang’s film is an unqualified success.

still image from the short film Wish143

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Short Film (Live-Action)—Wish 143

Ian Barnes directs this 23 minute film commissioned by the BBC_Network, and therefore available on their website. The blurb: “An Oscar®-nominated drama about a fifteen-year-old boy with only months to live, who is granted one final wish from the Dreamscape Charity. But David doesn’t want to go to Disneyland or meet Gary Neville; what he really wants is an hour alone with a naked woman.”

I was dreading watching this film a little bit based on the tagline. Its not an especially original idea for a story, and is one that can easily be botched in terms of tone. That said, now that I’ve seen it, I really recommend Wish 143. It nails by biggest underlying worry—tone—very thoughtfully balancing comedy and sentimentality, while not neglecting the complex emotions of fear, anger and disappointment that a person in David’s position must grapple with. It even resolves the sticky issue of the film’s conceit in a satisfactory way.

Winner of the Audience Award at the prestigious Palm Springs Shortsfest, this is an accomplished effort from director Ian Barnes off of a great script by Tom Bidwell. However it is  Sam Holland as the dying boy who steals the show. Good flick.

still image from the short fillm Madagascar

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Short Film (Animation)—Madagascar, carnet de voyage

Bastien Dubois’ animated travel-diary has been featured on the site before, where I gave it a glowing review.

Told in the form of a animated scrapbook, Dubois crosses 3-D with 2-D aesthetics to bring you into a visual journey of Madagascar’s people and country that is unlike anything seen before.

still image from short film "Turning"

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BAFTA Short Film (Live-Action) Nominee—Turning

As a bonus, here is a BAFTA nominee, Turning by filmmaking duo Karni and Saul that I uncovered and shared last weekend on Twitter and Facebook.

BAFTA’s tend to be a bit more off the wall than Oscar noms, as previous winners we’ve featured, My Wrongs # 8245 – 8249 & 117 and The Banker indicate. Turning continues that tradition. The tagline: “On his sixth birthday Robert receives three beautiful broken old birds in his mother’s sitting room.”

Blending animation and live-action in a lovely way, the film is offbeat but not really in a good way, as I was pretty bored throughout the film’s 10 minute runtime. You might be perplexed at the end by what the film is trying to say also,  but that said, I have to say I’d never seen an elderly lady’s crotch mocked up as a zoetrope before!

Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
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  • Aura Marina Medina

    * Dear Good people of
    (My english isn’t good, but I’ll make an effort for being understandable)

    I want to make the most sincere acknowledgement for your great labor.

    We, the people who try to be Oscars fans in Venezuela, suffer a lot because those works of art just won’t be brought to this country’s cinemas never ever.

    Therefore, bless you all. And if one day you think your work is not such a big deal: Please remember me talking on behalf of aaaaaaaaaall the films lovers in this poor side of the world. What a happiness and joy you bring us!

    Yours faithfully, and Best Wishes:
    Aura Marina Medina // Caracas, Vzla.

  • José Perez

    You are truly doing a great work!
    I wish to join to all the Congratulations.
    Thank you.

  • http://- Hans J. Eiðisgarð

    does anybody know if any of the other oscar nominees are online yet?

  • Jason Sondhi

    Some other links have been added to the other Oscar thread

  • Stephen Dypiangco

    For anybody interested in checking out Luke Matheny’s “God of Love,” which is in the live action category, they can buy the DVD from his website –

  • Mrs. Kathy Agudelo

    I just loved “The Warriors of Quigang: A Chinese Village Fights Back”.
    I believe these kind of documentaries that try to send messages on behalf of our enviroment should have an advantage for winning the Academy Awards, just like any other that handles a subject that concers all the Human beings.
    Thanks fos Posting it, and I look forward to watch soon in your site the remaining nominees in the months to come.

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    [...] so vieler großer Kategorien antritt. Umso mehr ein Grund, die Kurzen mal wieder hervorzuheben und auf diese feine Sammlung hinzuweisen, die 3 Nominierte aus den Bereichen Dokumentar-Kurzfilm, Kurzfilm und animierter Kurzfilm vereint. [...]

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    [...] audience-favorite program alongside eventual Oscar nominees God of Love and the recently reviewed, Wish 143. The directing team also won the recent Nikon Film Festival Gran Prize for Chicken vs. Penguin [...]

  • Matiss Riherts

    Another link for “Wish 143″: