Short live-action and animated films often showcase simple, effective storytelling in entertaining bite-sized vignettes. This year's Oscar nominees in those categories also offer a whirlwind tour of foreign filmmaking. Live-action shorts include the tale of an African student's first day in an Irish school in New Boy. In Manon sur le Bitume, a woman backpedals through the final moments before a bicycle accident. Roeland Wiesnekker's hardened mug as a department-store security guard harboring a co-worker crush steals the show in the moody, subtle romance, Auf der Strecke. But the anxious, alternating perspectives of a mother's overwhelming fear and a boy's imagination in Spielzeugland could grab the gold. Set in 1942 Germany, the woman searches for her son, afraid he has followed his best friend, a Jew, on a deportation train.
The animated shorts category brings the eye candy, like the Pixar-produced flick (and only U.S.-bred nominee) Presto(pictured), an impressive Looney Tunes homage that screened in theaters with last summer's WALL*E. Oscar loves Pixar-style CGI contenders, but La Maison en Petits Cubes competes with classic, hand-drawn visuals. The short dives into an old man's memories while floodwaters force him to build his house to towering proportions.
Lavatory Lovestory , a romance of Russian bathroom attendants, is a conventionally animated black-and-white film. Other computer-animated shorts include Oktapodi, a forgettable, two-minute French octopi rescue race, and the grim British comedy This Way Up, in which two pallbearers go to hell and back to bury their loved one. Tickets $8 general admission, $6 NOFS/CAC members. — Alex Woodward
Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Films
7:30 p.m. Tue., Feb. 10
Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films
7:30 p.m. Thu., Feb. 12