This film is nominated for Best Foreign Film from Jordan. It is set in 1916 in a remote province of the Ottoman Empire of Hajiz during World War 1. It is the story of a young Bedouin man and his little brother when they encounter and guide an unexpected British officer into the desert for some secret military purpose. They encounter bandits and suddenly the older brother is killed while the younger brother is left for dead.
It is artfully made, yet used no professional actors. Appropriately called a Bedouin Western, it was filmed in the vast Wadi Rum desert of Jordan. Ultimately it is a story of survival, endurance and revenge. It is unique and worth seeking out.
Academy Award Nominated Animated Short Films
Bear Story (Chile)
An old, melancholy bear tells his life story through a mechanical diorama. It is a touching story for people of all ages. A strong candidate to win the Oscar.
This unusual film about the a battle between four warriors set hundreds of years ago depicts in graphic detail the horrors of the event. I did not understand the use of nudity and strongly caution against viewing by young children.
Sanjay’s Super Team (US)
This Pixar production based on “mostly” true events is about a Hindu father and his young son who imagines Hindu gods as action heroes. It is beautifully crafted and a strong contender for the Oscar.
We Cannot Live Without Cosmos (Russia)
Two inseparable astronauts in training is funny, playful, inventive and charming. It achieves a touching message in less than 10 minutes.
World of Tomorrow (US)
An inventive story about a little girl and her future based Mom tries to explain the world of her future being. It is clever and complicated, funny and confusing. Favorite concept is the Internet becomes the “outernet”.
Catch It (France) Highly Commended but not nominated.
Meerkats versus vulture for coveted fruit results in a prolonged chase. The football punt is hilarious.
If I was God (Canada) Highly Commended but not nominated.
Based on a true story about school science class dissection of frogs is excellent storytelling.
Short Story of Fox and Mouse (France) Highly Commended, not nominated
Visually stunning animation. Prey and predator evolve to become intimate companions. Unique.
Loneliest Stoplight (US) Highly Commended but not nominated.
A stop light in a one-light-town becomes an overnight sensation when a freeway jams up.
Academy Award Nominated Live Action Short Films
Ave Maria (Palestine, France, Germany)
A Jewish family gets lost and their car breaks down in Arab territory in front of a Catholic Nunnery. The nuns agree to let the husband use their phone to hire a cab to get home. No one will come because they are in Arab territory. Finally, the nuns agree to allow the family to use the car of a deceased nun. It is both funny and weird at the same time.
Day One (US)
Set in a war zone in a Muslim country, an American military team conducts a mission with a new Muslim-American woman interpreter when the squad encounters conflict. They discover a pregnant woman in labor. The husband is driven by strict religious customs and will not allow the local doctor to enter the home. In a compromise, the Doctor instructs the interpreter what to do. The baby is born after much turmoil. The story is quite powerful and tragic. A strong contender for the Oscar.
Everything Will Be Okay (Austria, Germany)
A Father picks up his young daughter for a scheduled visitation with at stop at shopping for toys and a local fair to ride the bumper cars. Then he begins the process to abduct the girl and escape the country for the Middle East. Their flight is cancelled and father and daughter end up at a hotel. The final scene is full of trauma and angst.
Shok (Friends) (US)
Two Albanian boys from school earn money for bicycles during the war in Kosovo when Serbian forces take over their town. The boys are at odds when one bike is confiscated for a soldiers son. The two reconcile as their families are driven from their home. It is a small peek at a horrific time. Also a strong contender for the Oscar.
Stutterer (UK, Ireland)
This is a charming story about a young couple during an internet phase (texting) before meeting. Clearly the two like each other and have established a rapport. The only glitch is the young man has a terrible stutter. It is so bad he often acts mute in public. Finally the time comes to meet…they both sign.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
I know it sounds goofy but hear me out on this one. When I first saw the previews I thought, ‘are they out of their minds’. Once the film was released, the critical reviews were not half bad. So with nothing else new in the theaters on a quiet Sunday morning with nothing to do, we went to see an early matinee.
If you like period piece films, this one has just enough of the classic elements to hold your interest. If you like classic horror films including the occasional zombie movie, then you might find this one interesting.
Imagine privileged debutants, masters of the martial arts, vying for the attention of wealthy suitors. Together, they protect their mansions and lifestyle against the legions of the undead yearning to eat their human brains.
Okay, no Oscar material here, but it might kill a couple of hours on a long plane ride.