by Ken Korman
Free from the conventions of long-form narrative and the arbitrary and commerce-driven requirement of an approximately two-hour running time, well-made short films can feel like a breath of fresh air — when you can find them. The annual Oscar-Nominated Short Films deserve to be celebrated simply because they’re the only short-film programs widely distributed to theaters in the U.S. Divided into live-action, animation and documentary categories (the last of which has already received its one-time local screening), this year’s Oscar shorts are a predictably mixed bag, but one worthy of proper presentation on the big screen. The Prytania Theater will screen the live-action and animation programs through Friday, February 7th.
The 105-minute live-action program takes us around the world for tales well-suited to compact storytelling. Set in Kabul, Afghanistan, Buzkashi Boys portrays the misery of street life through two boys taken with the real-life national sport of Buzkashi, in which athletes play polo with a dead goat. Death of a Shadow offers a visually arresting steampunk fantasy, and Henry gets deep inside the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient. The animated program comes in at a modest 40 minutes but displays an abundance of wit and charm. In Head Over Heels, an estranged married couple occupies a metaphorically divided house where he lives on the floor but she lives on the ceiling. Fans of The Simpsons won’t want to miss The Longest Daycare, in which Maggie Simpson suffers countless indignities at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center.
The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2013 screens through February 7 exclusively at the Prytania Theatre. More info here.