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WGUC Reviews

2009 Oscar Shorts

2009 Oscar Shorts
Now Showing at: Cincinnati World Cinema, March 29 and 31 at The Redmoor in Mt. Lookout
By popular demand, 2 additional screenings of Oscar Shorts and More have been scheduled for April 13 and 14.
Review by: Larry Thomas

Did you ever wonder where filmmakers come from? Do they just magically appear in someone’s back yard? Or are they smuggled in from another planet? Once upon a time in America, some of our greatest filmmakers… Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, David Lynch… all fueled their passion for filmmaking by doing short films. And this medium still exists as “training wheels” for those who want to get hands-on experience.

Each year, the Motion Picture Academy nominates five live-action shorts, and five animated shorts, and each year, the best way to actually see these on a big screen is to wait until they show up in a package. That’s one of the functions of Cincinnati World Cinema, which is bringing the 2009 nominated…and winning…titles to the Redmoor on Mt. Lookout Square.

Unlike last year’s nominees, when none were American, there is one entry from the US, and that’s from Disney’s Pixar Studio. Is it indicative that film school students are more concerned with scoring a deal for the next big blockbuster sci-fi epic? Who knows? But in other corners of the world, there are some well-done short films being created.

The live action titles are:

  • On the Line, from Switzerland, in which a good man makes a bad decision with devastating consequences.
  • The Pig, a Danish film, is a playful take on serious matters – religious tolerance and freedom of expression.
  • France’s Manon on the Asphalt takes a look at the age-old question “what really flashes through one’s mind at the point of death?”
  • New Boy, from Ireland, follows a refugee from a war-torn African nation who faces challenges on his first day at his new school in Ireland.
  • The winning live action short, Toyland, is from Germany. Set in 1942, this 14-minute film is about two boys—one Jewish, one Gentile—with heartbreaking twist.
The animation lineup includes:
  • Oktapodi, France, in which two octopi attempt to escape their gastronomical fate and have a happy life together. It’s only three minutes long, but is funny, cheerful, and exciting.
  • Presto, the Pixar entry is a wacky throwback to the great Looney Tunes / Chuck Jones cartoons. Presto the magician forgets to feed his rabbit before going on stage, and havoc reigns. The sight gags are fast and furious, and it’s very funny.
  • From Britain, This Way Up takes a whimsical look at a pair of dour undertakers who are having a really bad day in trying to get a coffin to the appointed resting place.
  • The Russian Lavatory Love Story is a black-and-white, line drawing film that has an occasional splash of color. The story, and characters, are charming and endearing.
  • The winning entry, from Japan, is La Maison en Petits Cubes. It’s of a more serious nature, but is very nice to look at and a worthy achievement, although I don’t know if I would have picked it as “the best.”

Cincinnati World Cinema is packaging the series so they are integrated programs. You won’t have to pick all live-action or all-animated. They will show Program A on Sunday, March 29th at 4 pm, repeating on Tuesday, March 31st at 7:30 pm. Program B plays on Sunday, March 29th at 7:30 pm, with an encore showing on Wednesday, April 1st at 7:30 pm. This is a novel way to present the shorts, and makes it easier for you catch them all.

But wait… there’s more! Each program has a few “bonus shorts” that were not nominated but are also well worth seeing.


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