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Oscar-nominated short filmmakers are not afraid when it comes to tackling the most challenging and controversial issues around the world.


From social justice to teen romance, it doesn’t take long for the makers of the Academy Award-nominated short films to get their say. The 2023 field of nominees includes films from nearly every corner of the world, including Ireland, Iran, India, Norway, Italy and, of course, the United States.

Live action shorts

from the left, Irish GoodbyeAnd IvaloAnd Le PopillAnd night ride And The red bag.

Live action shorts

Irish GoodbyeWritten and directed by Tom Berkley and Ross White, this black comedy follows a pair of estranged brothers who must learn to get along after the sudden death of their mother. Berkeley’s own views on loss inspired the film’s exploration of love and grief. “It’s about reconnection, redemption, and the idea of ​​how, in the darkest moments for these two characters, they find each other through their commitment to their mother and their mother’s memory,” he says. “Grief is something we think of as a very personal journey, but it’s something you don’t necessarily have to go through alone, and grieving with someone else can be healing.”

For Iranian director Cyrus Nashvad, he presents a story The red bag Life was urgent. The film follows the harrowing journey of a 16-year-old Iranian girl as she tries to flee an airport undetected by the man that she has been sent away to marry. An effective scene that involves the girl removing her veil for her own safety, but at the risk of defying her culture. “Women disappear and never come back, sometimes because of how they wear veils over their hair,” says Neshvad. I was terrified, but I wanted to talk about it because it’s also my home country. When I did this movie, I said, “I want a woman who has the choice to take this off, even if it’s for her own freedom, for her own free will.”

Short Norwegian Eric Tveten night ride It starts after a late night mishap. Ebba accidentally steals a local tram, and along the way, she picks up Ariel, who attracts the attention of a man sitting nearby. Things turn hostile when the man discovers that Ariel is a transgender woman. Besides watching the passengers, Eba must decide if she’d rather stay out of the crevice or risk entanglement. “Norway is the best country in the world to live in, but we struggle with the same issues of prejudice,” says producer Heidi Arnesen. “Eric came to us with this idea of ​​social responsibility, that we have to act when someone is being treated unfairly.”

Greenland Tale Ivalo It focuses on a young girl searching for her missing older sister. Adapting a story centering around pedophilia was a sensitive matter for director Anders Walter. “When you take up a story like this, you know very well that you’re dealing with something that affects a lot of young people, and it’s a very sensitive subject,” he says. “It’s always a balance because you don’t want to come off as naive, because that would be the worst thing if the victims couldn’t identify themselves in the story. And by talking to people who work with children in this situation, they’re talking about the community surrounding these victims.”

Le Popill, the Italian religious comedy, written and directed by Alice Rohrwacher, is set in a Catholic girls’ orphanage during the 1940s. During the Christmas holidays, the girls face their greatest temptation, as they try not to eat the delicious Zuba Inglisi cake. “I wanted to make a movie whose time is up,” she says. “It was classic but also handmade. I wanted to show the girls that you can have something magical without the incredible stuff.” –Destiny Jackson

moving shorts

from the left, Boy, fox mole and horseAnd Flying seasAnd ice merchantsAnd Dix year And The ostrich tells me the world is fake and I think I believe it.

animated shorts

After receiving such a positive response to his 2019 book boy, mole, fox and horse, Creator Charlie McCheese was excited to bring his book to life and allow the story to affect people in a more “motivating” way. “Strangely, before I finished the book I felt like they could move,” he says. The animated short follows a boy searching for a home. Along the way, he meets three animals who are also looking for a place to belong and begin to develop a bond. “The inspiration was the desire to make friends with people or anyone else, feel better about things,” he says. “We were all struggling at the time with things and it seemed nice to be able to bring these issues up in conversation.”

Filmmakers Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbes were inspired Flying seas From a small piece of publicity about a sailor they found while searching for the 1917 Halifax explosion. “He took off and flew two kilometers and landed unharmed and naked except for one shoe,” says Tilby. Fascinated by the flight aspects, their animated short takes a slow look at the life that flashes before a man’s eyes as his “worn” movements are emphasized by a beautiful piano. The animation style blends 2D and 3D elements, which Forbes says created a “cartoonish” opening sequence that belies the tragedy of the situation.

Like many of his other films, João Gonzalez ice merchants It started out subconsciously. “It was a picture of a little house attached to a cliff,” he says. “I knew the theme of the movie was going to be about loss, but all the subtleties of the narrative are about finding joy.” The short story follows a father and son who live in an attached house by a mountain. While digitally animated, the art style simulates hand-drawn pencil on paper with bold shades and a limited color palette contrasting the characters’ “human side with the cold, harsh colors of the exterior”.

Based on a chapter from Pamela Rippon’s memoir Notes to boys: And other things I should not share in publicAnd Dix year It follows 15-year-old Pam on a comedic journey to find the right boy to lose her virginity. “I grew up on ’80s romance novels and movies, so I was ready to make it through because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do — you only become a woman once you lose your virginity,” says Rippon. The short story is divided into five different chapters, following different boys with unique styles of animation to simulate the “overwhelming and all-encompassing feeling” of a boy. “I always envisioned him in a very different light than everyone else, whatever phase I was at that time,” she says.

Lachlan Pendragon got his start The ostrich tells me the world is fake and I think I believe it From a research perspective by asking what he finds attractive about the stop motion feature. “For me, stop motion is about those tactile qualities and imperfections,” he says. He admits he went a bit too far and ended up creating a “ridiculously meta and very self-referral” about an office worker who gets screwed up after an ostrich reveals he’s in stop-motion motion. When Neil, voiced by Pendragon, learns the nature of his world from an ostrich, he begins to notice things that confirm his suspicion. “It seems so awful when you think of a stop-motion character finding out their face can fall off,” says Pendragon. –Ryan Fleming

Short documentaries

from the left, whispered the elephantAnd withdraw fromAnd How do you measure a year?And Martha Mitchell effect And Stranger at the gate.

Documentary shorts

Director Jay Rosenblatt has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in documentary without ever being honored with an Oscar nomination. Ended that drought last year with When we were bulliesAnd now he finds himself nominated for an Academy Award for the second year in a row, this time for another personal story, How do you measure a year? The short film consists of interviews with his daughter, Ella, recorded as she was growing up. Once a year on her birthday, from ages two to eighteen, Rosenblatt asked her the same set of questions — like, What are dreams? What is the force? “I had no idea this was going to be a movie,” notes the director. I didn’t even look at the footage [for 17 years]. Every year, I’d just shoot it, put it away, and just hope for the best.”

Two Netflix films join Rosenblatt’s latest in the Documentary Shorts category –whispered the elephant And Martha Mitchell impact. The final film, directed by Ann Alferg and Debra McCulochie, examines a woman who helped lead to the Watergate scandal that ultimately destroyed Richard Nixon’s presidency. As the outspoken wife of John Mitchell — Nixon’s former attorney general, and chair of his re-election committee in 1972 — Martha Mitchell was in a position to reveal secrets about the scandal. As a result, the chief’s men denigrated her as an unstable alcoholic. “She was basically the victim of a gaslighting campaign by the Nixon administration to silence her and stop highlighting Watergate,” Alverg says.

whispered the elephant Director Kartiki Gonsalves received her first Academy Award nomination. It is the story of a couple who are accused of raising orphaned elephant calves in a nature reserve in southern India. Young men like the capricious elephant Raghu need much affection and receive it in copious amounts from partners Bowman and Billy. “Raghu felt like he was with a mother, he had a father,” Gonsalves says of the relationship between Pachyderm and his caregivers. “It gave him that family feeling, which they usually get because elephants are very emotional, very affectionate creatures, and they express so much love and concern toward their children.”

Human and animal interaction of a different kind is the subject of another short documentary, withdraw from. Directed by sister and brother Evgeniya Arbugayeva and Maxim Arbugayev, the film follows a researcher at a very remote outpost in the Siberian Arctic. Marine biologist Maxim Chakilev studies the walruses that congregate in huge numbers at Cape Serdtsi Kamen. Warming seas have put enormous pressure on the giant creatures, who are no longer facing ice floes where they can catch their breath while feeding. “The three of us felt very small, among such a huge number of animals,” says Arbogaeva. The New Yorkerthat distributed the film. “Sometimes that line between human and animal was blurry. You start to tune in to what they can be feeling.”

Read the digital version of Deadline’s Oscar Nominees case here.

The New Yorker Also issued Stranger at the gateDirected by Joshua Siftel. It centers on Richard McKinney, a Marine Corps veteran who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. After he left the service, he harbored deep suspicion and hatred of Muslims and hatched a plan to attack an Islamic center in his hometown of Muncie, Indiana. But while conducting reconnaissance of the bombing plot, the devotees met and, somehow, reached his heart, gradually turning his anger into love. “This is a story that I think we need right now,” Seftel says. It is about America and its deep problems. But it’s also about hope.” –Matt Curry

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.