Generally the live-action short films are a depressing bunch; Barb and I tried to guess how many of them would feature dying children, and how many would be set in war-torn countries. There are no terminally-ill children this year -- yay! -- but instead there are 3 children in danger. Two children and one infant, really). I'm a sucker for those few short films that are funny or somehow SFnal/fantastic (it's a good form for compactly presenting a fantasy situation), but there was only one humourous film and nothing with any fantasy. The live-action short films (here's a roundup of how to watch them):
- Ave Maria: an Israeli family gets in a car accident on the West Bank, and seeks the aid of a convent of nuns. This was funny -- the nuns have taken a vow of silence, and the loud, arguing family could have been designed to irritate them.
- Shok (Friend) is a harrowing reminscence of 1990s Kosovo, where Albanians are being threatened by Kosovans and two young boys try to earn money from the Kosovan forces. Very glum.
- Alles Wird Gut (Everything Will Be Okay): a tense story where it becomes clear that a divorced father is planning to kidnap his daughter and flee with her to another country. Will he succeed? A few years back there was a similar short-film nominee, the French "Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)", with a woman fleeing an abusive husband with her children. I'm also a sucker for Hitchcockian suspense where it's perfectly clear what is going on, and the tension is from whether a plan will succeed or not.
- Stutterer: a man who stutters very seriously is worried about meeting the woman he's corresponded with online. There's a bit of wry humour here, but it's mostly a character piece. And it wasn't depressing!
- Day One: a new Arabic interpreter has her first day on the job with US Army forces in Afghanistan (I assume). When I saw the initial set-up, I thought to myself "oh, here we go -- there will be IEDs and a firefight". The story actually goes in a different direction that's more interesting, though it's still unhappy and grim.