Five Short Films-All Entertaining and Authentic.
The Oscars are this Sunday night, and artisan theaters are given the opportunity to show people the nominations for best short films. I’ve decided to check out the 2020 live-action nominees, based on my previous experiences with the 2018 nominees. At the Asbury Park Showroom, I was given a check list of which of these films would win the Oscar. Let’s find out at the end of this article.
The first one is from Belgium, and it’s a smart one at that. It’s about a girl (Selma Alaoui) who gets violated by a man (Guillaume Duhesme), and lies about calling her sister. She’s actually calling the police, and just pretend she’s talking to her sister to keep her attacker off the scent. Although, he begins to become agitated by how long she is talking to them. The operator (Veerle Baetens) does her absolute best to keep her cool, and to give the victim instructions on survival.
It was often too dark to see at times, but I still found it to be thrilling in the ways the women use their common sense to overcome the monster. And I really admire how they show us two versions of the girl making the call. We see her just talking in the car, and then at the station when the operator receives the call. Writer/director Delphine Girard has developed a short subject even the #MeToo organization would approve of.
The next one involves a Tunisian family whose eldest, estranged son unexpectedly returns home with a pregnant wife from Syria. Only his mother and two young brothers are glad he’s home again, while the father (Mohamed Grayaa) suspects his son is working for ISIS. His love wears a niqab, which pushes his accusations even further.
The acting here is superb, and the ending reveals whether the son is good or bad. The results are riveting, though it should have been longer. But then again, it is a short subject.
“The Neighbor’s Window”
No, it’a not another “Rear Window” horror movie. I know you’d assume that, because of the title, but it’s much different from that. It involves a married couple (Maria Dizzia and Greg Kellar) with three kids in the city who gaze at their neighbor’s apartment, and see them get it on. As time moves forward, the wife sees the young couple deteriorating as the man is terminally ill.
This short is often funny and honest, based on how writer/director Marshall Curry balances the realities presented here. Dizzia ignites the screen as a woman who become stressed with motherhood and marriage, and acknowledges how lucky she is to be in her world. It’s patient, sweet, and revealing at the same time.
Based on a true story, the short focuses on abused female orphans at the Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in Guatemala. The main heroine, Saria (Estefania Tellez), and her sister Ximena (Gabriela Ramirez) both decide to run away to America, by escaping during a riot. It unfortunately also leads up to a fire that kills all 41 girls.
This was very informative about a harsh location, and the people who abuse innocent girls. They’re called the “b” word by their supervisors, and they suffer torment and hard labor. And they try their best to fight the system, and fail in the end.
Watching this subject kept me at the edge of my seat, and left angry at the monsters who threaten to deteriorate the girls, and happy at the courage of the young women. Hopefully, this will open everyone’s eyes at these kinds of safe houses. That is if they really call themselves “safe houses.”
“Nefta Football Club”
In Europe, the word “football” refers to soccer. So try not to get confused. It’s about two young brothers and football fans in a Tunisian village, who both discover a donkey with bags of cocaine. The older brother (Eltayef Dhaoui) plans to sell the powder, while the younger one (Mohamed Ali Ayari) thinks its laundry detergent. And we also meet the real mules (Lyes Salem and Hichem Mesbah), whose plans get thwarted by the wrong song.
To put it bluntly, the donkey wears beats headphones with music. One of them wanted Adele, which gets him going, but the other gave him the wrong music, which left him stranded.
It should have been longer, but it was interesting to see the drug dealers’ trick to have the donkey wear headphones to mellow him out, while the kid tries and fails to make money off the blow. And the younger one is full of innocence, as he mistakes it for laundry detergent.
Out of all the short films I saw at the screening, I would nominated “Saria” for its ability to wake the world up with its evils and faith. It doesn’t turn out well, but its message still resonates with you long after it’s over. When I watch the Oscars, hopefully this one will win.