Oscars 2021: 15 Short Films Nominated In Documentary, Live Action, And Animation Categories Reviewed! I have my personal reasons for disliking award ceremonies, especially the Oscars. But today, I am not going to make that the highlight of this article. Instead, I’ll highlight the things that the Oscars wants to highlight (That’s a lot of highlighting going on). To be specific, I will be talking about the short films, which I think goes under the radar despite being chosen by the Academy. People usually tend to watch the feature and documentaries that get nominated. However, the short films? Not so much, even though they have so many messages and so much talent and creativity to offer. So, I will be sharing my thoughts on them/reviewing them categorically, and also telling y’all where you can watch them as well! See, I am so nice.
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
COLETTE (Available in The Guardian) – The titular woman is a French resistance fighter who goes to the German concentration camp where her brother breathed his last. She’s assisted by a student who wants to document the repercussions of fascism in the hopes that by seeing the horrors of what happened last time, it doesn’t happen again. The two bond over this process and their relationship come to a wholesome conclusion. But it’s not an easy watch and unless you are a heartless bastard who doesn’t care about human life, there’s no way you’re coming out of this without tears in your eyes and scars on your soul.
A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION (Available in The New York Times) – Kris Bowers, who is a noted music composer in Hollywood, sits down for a conversation with his ailing grandfather while crafting a concerto. There he tells Kris about his origins, how he tackled racism, how he met Kris’s grandmother, and how proud he is to see his grandchild flourish. But somewhere he hopes that he had something to do with it. And through the movie, Kris essentially shows him that if he hadn’t done any of the things he has done, Kris wouldn’t be where he is. It’s sweet, warm, and beautifully edited, with my favourite cut being between the pedal of a steam press and the piano.
DO NOT SPLIT (Available on Field of Vision) – Based on the Hong Kong protests against the law that has been now imposed by China where anyone can be arrested and be sent to Mainland China for an indefinite amount of time (I know that’s an oversimplification). It shows the protests from the perspective of students, teachers, and just regular people who are repeatedly asking the administration that how are they doing this without any regret or remorse in their hearts. It also illustrates the mental toll such oppressive actions take on people who just want to live. It’s harrowing and scary, especially for someone watching in India where the largest protest in the world is still happening.
HUNGER WARD (Available via website) – This short about the hunger ward of a hospital in Yemen is too difficult to watch. It’s too heartbreaking. Kids who should be in schools, growing normally, playing and whatnot are just dying of malnutrition because of the war being waged around them. It makes you think that what is the meaning of anything when generations and generations of people on this very planet are being annihilated for no reason whatsoever. No reason. All that shit that the politicians and armies spew, they mean shit. It is all shit and in no way “justifies” the killing of innocent lives. Nothing can justify war among humans. Absolutely nothing. It’s all manufactured so that a few people can make some money. That’s it. The rest is just damage we are bearing for nothing.
A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA (Available on Netflix) – The United States of America thinks that they’ve done some radical by handing guns to everyone. The supporters of the law that allows people to own guns will give speeches and press conferences. But I seriously urge them to sit face-to-face with a victim of gun violence and give that same speech. I think they’ll shit themselves. Well, then the least they can do is watch this documentary and then see how sturdy the ground on which their arguments stand actually is. I am going to tell you how sturdy it is… It isn’t! The short features recreations, animation, and voice-overs, and that’s enough to crush you and make you think how far we’ve actually come as a society, and is this really progress?
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
BURROW (Available on Disney+ Hotstar Premium) – A bunny tries to make its home but is interrupted by many animals, causing it to dig away from them until, well, it can’t. I think that it’s a metaphor for depression and the need for isolation and how just asking for some help can reduce all the problems that initially seem unsolvable. I am a fan of 2D animation and this hand-drawn-esque style, coupled with not-so-fluid motions, really appealed to me. It’s simple and it’s effective.
GENIUS LOCI (Available on BookMyShow Stream) – 2D animation again. So, that’s already a win for me. And on top of that, it’s made of paintings. Like actually paintings. I think so. I don’t really know. But what I do know is that I don’t really know what’s the crux of the story. My best guess is that it is a very visual depiction of an anxiety attack that turns the protagonist’s world upside down, sends her down an emotional memory lane, and causes her to go on this wild streak. I might be wrong but I am right about the beauty of the animation. It’s too good!
IF ANYTHING HAPPENS I LOVE YOU (Available on BookMyShow Stream and Netflix) – At the time of writing this article, a school shooting has taken place in Knoxville, Tennessee. What else can I add to that? The reason for this short’s existence is right there. Although it has a positive outlook on things, expressed very brilliantly by its minimalist visuals and use of colours, it’s kind of a reaffirmation that things aren’t going to change unless guns are banned in the USA and since that won’t happen no matter which government comes into power, this kind of incidents will keep happening. And who’s going to bear the brunt of it? Kids and their parents.