This year’s live-action batch includes a number of intriguing foreign entries — and not an American offering in the bunch — all of which are loosely unified around such timely concepts as connection (emotional and physical) and the current political climate.
From stories about children’s choirs gone wild, unexpected romances and even a gut-churning immigration story that couldn’t be more prescient, this year’s live-action nominees fit together into a satisfying, smart little package.
Program includes all 5 nominated shorts:
Ennemis Interieurs – dir. Selim Aazzazi, France, 28 minutes
This year’s live-action contenders might be packed with timely offerings, but none are as timely as Sélim Azzazi’s powerful “Ennemis Interieurs,” a French production that takes place almost entirely inside the literally dim innards of an immigration office. Confining the majority of the action to one location keeps Azzazi’s film neatly focused and tightly framed, and allows the strength of performances from leads Hassam Ghancy and Najib Oudghiri to truly stand out.
Silent Nights – dir. Aske Bang, Denmark, 30 minutes
Sing – dir. Kristof Deak, Hungary, 25 minutes
Reportedly based on a true story — children’s choirs are wild — Kristóf Deák’s short isn’t just for kids, despite screening around the world at a starry batch of children-focused film festivals. While “Sing” is set in a competitive Hungarian elementary school and includes more than a few (often quite funny) touches ripped right out of “Mean Girls,” its message about power and corruption transcends location and plot.
Timecode – dir. Juanjo Gimenez Pena, Spain, 15 minutes
Juanjo Giménez Peña’s Palme d’Or-winning short is a graceful little meditation on the value of work and the possibility of human connection. Bonus: really excellent dancing.
La Femme et la TGV – dir. Timo von Gunten, Switzerland, 30 minutes
Timo von Guten’s good-hearted short features Jane Birkin in the titular role (as femme, not la TGV, naturally), a downbeat baker in a tiny French town who has nearly given up on the possibility that life has anything to offer her. That’s all upended when a train conductor sends her a note — tossed off the speeding train, landing square in her yard — thanking her for her daily waves she’s aimed at the train for many years.