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Review: Oscar-nominated short films 

Ken Korman on the animated and live-action shorts playing at The Prytania Theatre

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Feb 7-13

Oscar-nominated short films

Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. & 10 p.m. Fri.-Thu.

Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania St.

(504) 891-2787

Oscar-nominated short films

Only nine foreign films have ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, but the Academy seems far less nationalistic when it comes to nominations for Best Short Film. This year, only two of the total 10 shorts nominated in the Animated and Live Action categories were made in the U.S., resulting in two theatrical programs that offer an enticing range of perspectives and cinematic techniques. Even the least successful of these films provides a welcome glimpse of distant worlds seldom seen on stateside screens.

  The hour-long Animated program is especially compelling. In Possessions, by Japan's Shuhei Morita, an 18th-century traveler enters a mysterious shrine only to be held captive by discarded everyday objects in need of a little respect and attention. The colors and textures of this small fantasy world are breathtaking, and Morita shows just how much magic can be conjured with the relatively static limited-animation form.

Room on the Broom (pictured) is a beautiful and charming tale from England based on a popular children's picture book with Gillian Anderson (TV's The X-Files) supplying the voice of one very good-hearted witch. Mickey Mouse may not seem the most exciting addition to the program, but Disney's Get A Horse! begins with the company's familiar 1920s style before bridging the gap to 21st-century digital techniques — all in the same frame.

  Almost two hours in length, the Live Action program takes us to Finland for one difficult but funny morning with a family that has apparently overslept a friend's wedding in Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?

Director Mark Gill's The Voorman Problem stars Martin Freeman (The Lord of the Rings, and more important Sherlock, the best show on television) as a psychiatrist treating an inmate who believes he's God — and may just be right.

From Spain, That Wasn't Me portrays child soldiers in Africa, and France's Just Before Losing Everything explores domestic abuse, but each generates real suspense only to arrive at deeply unsatisfying endings — a common pitfall for films in the half-hour range. Who said making short films was easy?


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