I don’t usually do this, but a friend of mine, who helps run an art house theater in Asbury Park, NJ, suggested that I come and review the 5 short films that are up for Oscars. She even gave me a ballet to vote, which one would win, and I answered my favorite of the five.
“DeKalb Elementary”-the one I voted to win
It’s based on actual events involving a 911 call at an Atlanta elementary school. A receptionist (Tarra Riggs) is covering someone’s break, and ends being intruded by a young shooter (Bo Mitchell), who wants her to call the police. He says he is mentally unstable and has nothing to lose. He wants to give up, and she tells him he isn’t worthless at all.
There are never any guarantees gunmen would change their hearts in these life-threatening situations, but the short film shows us the compassion and dangers of it all. This is my favorite of the five, because of the way it presents itself.
“The Silent Child”
This U.K. import tells the story of a young social worker (Rachel Shenton) helping a deaf girl (deaf child actress Maisie Sly) communicate through sign language. Her parents, who have perfect hearing, feel she has to stop teaching her.
The movie gives out the message that schools really need to communicate with deaf kids through sign language. They can learn, too, but they need the help and skills to do so.
“My Nephew Emmett”
This African-American drama is set in Money, Mississippi in 1955. It tells the true story of how the young Emmett Till was murdered by white folks, because of how he was looking at a white woman. This is told from the boy’s uncle’s (LB Williams) perspective.
I didn’t know such a thing happened, and this short taught me so. I started to ponder what it was really about, and then, once we get to the racists, it all becomes gripping.
“The Eleven O’Clock”
From Australia, this has a mistaken identity case, in which a man claiming to be psychiatrist has an appointment to see a psychiatrist. Josh Lawson plays the psychiatrist and Damon Herriman plays the patient; and once they start arguing, things spin out of control.
This short left me in a bit of a tizzy, but has a certain kind of vibe I’ve seen in “Wild Tales,” a criminally insane comedy from Argentina. This is nuts.
“Watu Wote: All of Us”
From Germany, this short shows us the relationship between Muslims and Christians in Kenya. Actually, they hate each other, and there was bus attack in 2015, in which Muslim terrorists (Al-Shabaab) demanded the name of Christian passengers.
There’s a Christian passenger named Jua (Adelyne Wairimu), whose husband and baby were murdered by Muslims. She has to ride the bus, in order to see her sick mother, and she has to be part of horrors.
It took a while more to warm up to the concept, but I managed to make it through. It starts off personal and ends up riveting.
And through all the short films I’ve seen her, reminder, my favorite is “DeKalb Elementary. The rest surprised me, the more I’ve watched them.