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UICA screening 2013 Oscar shorts

The UICA is screening the 2013 Oscar nominees for best live action short, best animated short, and best short documentary
Underwriting support from:



Oscar Shorts- Animated:

2/14 Thursday – 5:15 p.m.
2/15 Friday – 4:30 p.m.
2/17 Sunday – 5:00 p.m.
2/20 Wednesday – 5:00 p.m.
2/21 Thursday – 5:00 p.m.


Oscar shorts- Live Action:

2/13 Wednesday – 5:30 p.m.

2/14 Thursday – 7:00 p.m.
2/15 Friday – 6:30 p.m.
2/19 Tuesday – 5:45 p.m.

Short Films- Documentary- First batch:
2/15 Friday – 12:15 p.m.
2/20 Wednesday – 6:45 p.m.

Short Films- Documentary- Second batch:
2/15 Friday – 2:30 p.m.
2/21 Thursday – 6:45 p.m.

The UICA is providing a unique opportunity to enhance Grand Rapids’ Oscar-viewing experience this year. Right up until the Oscar broadcast on February 24, the UICA is screening all the nominees for the following categories: “Documentary- Short,” “Short Film- Animated” and “Short Film- Live Action.” The showings are divided up by category and the length of the collective films in each section equates roughly to the length of a feature film.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Yes, but there is a reason I haven’t seen the nominees for these categories before. There are already too many movies to see this season, and the short films inevitably slip through the cracks. And also I don’t care about them.”

I can respect that. But I have now seen the nominees for two of these categories and I am here to tell you they are stupendous. In the animated category we see the usual line-up of heartwarming plots accompanied by a combination of traditional and more unusual animation techniques.

“Adam and Dog,” a film by Minkyu Lee utilizes a more traditional animation style is nothing short of visually stunning. It has no dialogue whatsoever and depicts Adam’s discovery of a canine companion in the Garden of Eden. And “Paperman,” John Kahr’s traditionally animated silent film uses a black, white and red color scheme to tell the story of a chance encounter between two strangers and the desperation one of them feels to reconnect after they are swept apart.

“Head Over Heels” is another animated short worthy of note. Animated with stop-motion, it tells the story of a married couple who have grown apart. Though they share the same house, Walter lives on the floor and Madge lives on the ceiling. “Head Over Heels” illustrates the slim possibility that maybe their life together can be salvaged.

The animated short film category serves as a comfortable warm-up before diving off into the live action shorts, which deal with a heavier terrain in terms of subject matter.

Before attempting to highlight just a couple I have to say this: every film in this category is astounding. One of the films that stands out in particular is “Asad,” directed by Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura. Filmed with a cast made up entirely of Somali refugees, “Asad” tells the story of a young boy living in a small fishing village in Somalia  who is training to be a fisherman. He finds himself conflicted between wanting to continue on his current trajectory or join his friends as they turn to pirating to sustain themselves. The film follows Asad for only a couple of days, giving the viewer a glimpse of the world in which he must maneuver to survive and provide for his family.

Shawn Christensen’s “Curfew” is also completely excellent. We’re introduced to Robert as he is in the midst of committing suicide. A phone call interrupts his attempt and sends him off in a direction he never could have anticipated or would have dared hope for.

“Buzkashi Boys” tells a story about two young boys in Afghanistan trying to find their place in the world. It’s set in Kabul, whose ravaged buildings and incredible mountain ranges lends a haunting and beautiful backdrop to what is essentially a very gritty and human coming-of-age story.

What most of these shorts have in common is their over-arching theme: the desire for connection. Many of the characters are either lonely or dealing with impossible circumstances. What helps them cope is connection to another living thing, be it human or otherwise. It’s this that makes these films so relatable and successful. Having the search for companionship as their primary focus really drives the stories home and endears their characters to the audience.

Watching these characters experience the world in ways both dramatically different and similar to our own can be enriching on its own merit. The bonus, of course, is also having a greater investment in the Oscars this year. We learn from a vast variety of sources, and there is no reason this year’s nominees for the best short films can’t contribute to that.

The UICA will be showing the various nominees until February 24, when the Oscars broadcast at 7 p.m. EST.

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