The popular “Oscar Nominated Short Films” are back, featuring all 15 nominated shorts in a trio of programs: animated, live action and documentary. Viewers can watch the shorts online here as well as in theaters this year.
The 2021 live-action program is particularly stellar, while the documentaries, as usual, tend to be intense and topical and feel urgent. (COVID, which apparently happened too late for the submission deadline, will almost surely be on the slate next year.) The animated lineup continues to feature original and beautiful uses of the filmmaking form.
The animated and live-action programs are screening at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, San Francisco and Shattuck Cinemas, Berkeley. All three shorts programs are viewable online in the Roxie Theater’s virtual theater.
Animated (99 minutes; rated PG-13)
• “Burrow” (USA): A young rabbit digs herself into a deep hole while trying to create her dream burrow. Cuteness honors are in order.
• “Genius Loci” (France): A young loner discovers a magical oneness within the urban chaos surrounding her.
• “If Anything Happens I Love You” (USA): A couple whose daughter has died in a school shooting struggle with grief.
• “Opera” (USA): Inspired by Renaissance art, this living canvas is a whimsical, sad and hopeful consideration of the human condition.
• “Yes-People” (Iceland): Everyday folks struggle to get through their day and to cope.
Live action (130 minutes; rated R)
• “The Present” (Palestine): A simple shopping trip becomes an ordeal for a West Bank resident and his young daughter.
• “Feeling Through” (USA): A homeless teenager establishes an unexpected connection with a blind and deaf man on a New York City street.
• “ Two Distant Strangers” (USA): A man who wants merely to get home to his dog becomes stuck in a loop in which he experiences deadly police abuse, over and over. Timely.
• “White Eye” (Israel): A trying experience ensues when a man finds his stolen bicycle but learns that it now belongs to a stranger.
• “The Letter Room” (USA): A corrections officer assigned to inspect prison correspondence develops a deep concern for a death-row inmate whose incoming mail he’s been reading. A series highlight.
Documentary (136 minutes; rated R)
• “A Love Song for Latasha” (USA): Fifteen-year-old Latasha Harlins, shot to death in 1992 at a store in South Central Los Angeles, is remembered by people who knew her well.
• “Do Not Split” (USA/Norway): Audiences receive an eye-of-the-storm view of the Hong Kong protests.
• “Hunger Ward” (USA): Child starvation in Yemen, caused by that nation’s near-forgotten war, is the focus. A heartbreaker.
• “Colette” (France/Germany/USA): One of the last surviving members of the French Resistance, at age 90, journeys with a young student to the site of the Nazi camp where her 17-year-old brother died during the war.
• “A Concerto Is a Conversation” (USA): Composer-pianist Kris Bowers converses with his 91-year-old grandfather, who grew up in the Jim Crow South, about family roots and being black in America.