With the exception of one film, the combination of this year’s live action shorts was extremely and undeniably, mentally and emotionally draining. This is not an exaggeration. I left the theater feeling tired of the many emotions and questions I encountered while watching these films. The thing is that they try to pack a story and a climax in less than half hour and somehow, every single one of these films manage to do it.
Ave Maria by Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont, is the only light and funny movie in the whole collection. The film starts with the encounter of an Israeli family with Sabbath restrictions and five nuns with a vow of silence, after the family’s car breaks down outside the nuns’ convent. Throughout the movie they overcome the difficulties in communicating and arrive to a solution, all while delivering a sympathetic and amusing plot. Ave Maria introduces us to the differences in cultures and some serious issues in a light matter; in the end however, the film is just not entertaining enough. (3/5)
Day One by Henry Hughes delivers an action-packed film about culture differences that might resonate strongly with the American people. It is an Afghan-American woman’s first day as a U.S. Army translator; her first mission: accompanying American troops in search of a bomb-maker. However, her job changes drastically when she encounters a pregnant woman in labor and complications arise when we learn about difficulties in the labor and the gender differences that exist in each culture. It is a heavy film with a gloom ending that won’t let you rest for one minute. (4.5/5)
A somewhat slower film than the rest but just as powerful, Everything Will Be Okay by Patrick Vollrath narrates the story of what starts as a divorced father picking his daughter for their usual weekend trip. The story takes a drastic turn when we learn the father is trying to go away on a very long trip and wants to take his daughter with him. Both actors are simply amazing and deliver an extremely emotional plot. The ending however, leaves you incomplete and with many questions unanswered… Though I just cant imagine a more appropriate ending for this short film. (4.5/5)
The darkest of all films Shok by Jamie Donoughue, is a tragic story about two young boys living in a war zone. As the movie progresses we are able to see how their lives change due to the war and how every decision that seemed harmless before, has now great impact on their lives, as well as on everyone they love. Shok takes you to a somber place that has unfair all written over it, and as much as you hope for, you never come back. (5/5)
While Stutterer by Benjamin Cleary was not a somber, tragic, or dark film, it was just as powerful in its own unique way. Stutterer is the story of a typographer with a speech impediment involved in an online relationship, that now faces the decision of meeting his significant other in person. While the story is not unlike anything we’ve seen before, the characters are. The frustration and desperation of suffering with a speech impediment is perfectly translated to the audience, and the ending, while surprising, doesn’t disappoint one bit. I have to say this was my favorite movie in the collection. (4.5/5)
Just like the animated shorts, the live-action films ranged widely in topics. From love stories to tragic endings, the live shorts will leave you exhausted, thoughtful, and in undeniable awe.