Oscar-nominated animated and live-action shorts at Laemmle Playhouse 7

Beginning on February 13, 2015, the Laemmle Playhouse 7 (Claremont and NoHo as well)  is screening two separate programs of Oscar-nominated movies: Oscar-nominated animated shorts movies and live-action short movies. 

A short film is an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits. Previews and advertising films, sequences from feature-length films (e.g. credit sequences), unaired episodes of established TV series and unsold TV series pilots are not considered eligible for this category.

Live-action short films are considered separately from documentary short subjects.

The Oscar-nominated animated program is 77 minutes long and includes three foreign (Canada, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) entries. Besides the Oscar-nominated short, four additional shorts are included in this PG-rated program. You won’t be tortured by subtitles. Several have no dialogue.


“Me and My Moulten”

Director: Torill Kove

Synopsis: In the spring of 1965 in Norway, the narrator is middle child of three sisters. Her sisters are five and nine. The snow has melted and the days are getting longer. All the kids on the street have bicycles and the three sisters ask for one that they can share. While they wait for one, the narrator compares her family to the family that lives below them, the family of her best friend Beatrise. For the narrator, Beatrise has the perfect family while her family is so odd that she is self-conscious and gets stomach aches. Both of her parents are Modernist architects and their house isn’t homey. Although their grandmother is at home while her parents work, the narrator longs for a more normal family. The Moulton is the bicycle that the girls eventually get and says something about her family, the art of giving and expectations. Traditional simple and clean 2D animation.  (Canada). Running time:: 14 minutes. In English.


Director: Patrick Osborne.  Producer:  Kristina Reed

Synopsis: You might have seen “Feast” before.  The short was featured before screenings of Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” and concerns a young Boston Terrier pup named Winston who gobbles up junk food with his master James. That’s fitting because, James met Winston by offering him a French fry. Winston starts with dog kibble, but James soon begins adding bacon and eggs, pizza and other things to Winston’s diet and kibble isn’t enough for Winston now. Winston’s diet suddenly changes  when James becomes involved with a waitress he meets. The woman who has a healthier lifestyle. Winston (unlike my dogs) doesn’t like the veggies he’s now offered, even when it’s offered with a parsley garnish. When James breaks up with the health nut, he’s so depressed that Winston can’t enjoy the return to junk food heaven and brings the couple back together. Winston still has a happy ending with the couple’s baby boy becoming his new cohort, throwing food on to the floor much to Winston’s joy. Parents might wince since Winston’s diet is definitely not as the vet would recommend, but if you can ignore that, it’s an enjoyable tale that will make you hungry for pizza and meatballs. This short was nominated for an Annie Award (Best Animated Short Subject) and won the Best Short Film Audience Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival. (USA) Running time: 6 minutes. Non-dialogue

“The Bigger Picture”

Directors: Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees

Tensions arise between two brothers, Nick and Richard, as their elderly mother requires more care. Richard is over forty and has a good job. Nick “has never had Richard’s drive” according to the mother. Yet he takes care of his mother. Eventually the two brothers must put their mother in a care facility and she dies. Blend of painterly 2D and stop animation with a 1960s vibe soundtrack.  Won the BAFTA award for Best British Short Animation. (UK) Running time: 7 minutes. In English.

“A Single Life”

Director: Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen

We’ve all been there. Finally able to afford an apartment of one’s own. You don’t even have real furniture except for a bed. Instead of a real closet, you’ve got a rack to hang your paltry wardrobe. A young red-headed single girl is eating her meal of pizza on her bed/couch. When there’s a knock on the door. No one is there when she opens the door, but she finds a vinyl single LP (that thing people used to have record players). As she plays the catchy tune about “A Single Life, she realizes that by moving the record back and forward, she has the power to shift back and forth through time. How cool is that? She can bypass the boring parts and even good too far back. This is a sweet reminder to do as the song says, “take it slow before you gotta go.” Stop-motion clay animation. (Netherlands) Running time: 2 minutes. Non-dialogue.

“The Dam Keeper”

Directors: Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

The narrator, a young pig,  tells us that “At that age, I was almost too short to look outside. Through my windows, all I could see was a cloud.” The cloud is dark and the narrator tells us that his father told him, “The job of a dam keeper is to keep the darkness away.” Originally he had been with his dad, but now it was his job alone to be the dam keeper. Set in a European village the film represents the other townspeople as sheep, bears, monkeys, foxes, ducks, rabbits, beavers, cats and even crocodiles. They aren’t kind toward this often dirty little boy pig and, at school, he is both shunned and bullied. One day a new student comes, one who has a talent for drawing caricatures and tentatively the pig and this student, a fox, becomes friends. But is the fox truly the pig’s friend? Traditional 2D animation with a textured painterly feel. “The Dam Keeper” won the Audience Award Short Film (Ages 2-14) at the New York International Children’s Film Festival in 2014 and the Golden Gate Award for Best Family Film at the 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival. (USA) Running time: 18 minutes. Non-dialogue

Additional animated shorts:

“Sweet Cocoon”

This is something to which a lot of Americans can relate if they’ve ever had to squeeze into a tight pair of jeans. A large green caterpillar needs to get into her cocoon, but suffers a bad case of the muffin top. She does get some assistance from two passing insects who stuff her into the cocoon and then attempt to hoist her on to the branch. They are eventually rewarded with the sight of a green-eyed butterfly but not all ends well. 3D computer animation. (France) Running time:  6 minutes.  Non-dialogue.


Director: Bill Plympton

Don’t we all hate vandals? A gullible man goes on a quest to find a mysterious, destructive monster who broke a glass window on his home. As he follows the footprints, he imagines all sorts of horrible creatures who caused such destruction. With his gun, he shoots at random. When he comes to the end, he finds that the footprints have multiplied and crisscross into a huge housing development. He arrives at a surprising revelation. This has a slight Twilight Zone edge and details the physiological traits of fear that some might find repellant (dogs aren’t the only one who experience anxiety urination). Traditional 2D (this is Plympton after all). This short won the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival award for Best Animation Film. (USA) Running time: 4 minutes. Non-dialogue


Director: Glen Keane

This begins with two babies, a boy Tosh and a girl Mia. We don’t know much about Tosh but that he’s active (skateboarding and hiking) and that he has a dog that grows up to look a lot like Tramp (from “Lady and the Tramp). Mia learns ballet and eventually becomes a performer and the two fall in love. Traditional 2D animation. Chalk on a medium blue background. The figures are defined in white with highlights in blue, pink and purple. This short was nominated for an Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject. (USA) Running time: 4 minutes. Non-dialogue.

“Bus Story” (Histoires de bus)

Director: Tali

Our protagonist is a young woman who dreams of becoming a bus driver in order to cruise down quiet country lanes and connect with nature, her young charges and their parents. At her first job, the kids aren’t particularly nice and her boss is a gruff man named Killer. She finds that winding roads can prove treacherous in winter and sometimes you really need to be careful when you’re backing up. The banjo soundtrack takes us to the countryside. The illustrations are simple without a consistent sense of perspective, giving this a child-like unsophisticated atmosphere. The lines are thick, grainy and wavy. You feel the influence of Plympton. This short won the 2014 Junior Jury Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and also received a Special Distinction Award. (Canada) Running time: 11 minutes. In English.

LIVE ACTION: 117 minutes PG-13.

The live-action Oscar-nominated short film program is 117 minutes long and rated PG-13. None of the films are American. Two are in English and are both from the United Kingdom. The Israeli entry, “Aya,” is mostly in English with Danish and Hebrew.  All have English subtitles.


Directors: Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger

An Afghan teenager is living in a refugee center in a rural part of Switzerland. She works illegally and gets cheated, but she saves her money to send back home. She travels to a city in order to use a wire service, but because she doesn’t have an official identification, she can’t wire money to her family and asks a young Swiss woman for help. The time they end up spending together changes them both a little and they become friends. Nominated for Best Youth Film at the 2013 Potsdam Sehsuchte. (Switzerland) Running time: 25 minutes. In Dari and Swiss German. English subtitles.

“Boogaloo and Graham”

Directors: Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney

Jamesy (Jonathan Harden) remember his childhood in Belfast 1978. It wasn’t unusual to see soldiers patrolling the streets with automatic weapons. What was unusual was his father (Martin McCann) decided to give Jamesy (Riley Hamilton) and his brother Malachy (Aaron Lynch) two baby chicks to raise. Jamesy and Malachy find it cool because “Everybody has a dog” but they have tame chickens on leashes. The mother isn’t endeared by the growing chicks and while the boys want to become vegetarians (after seeing roast chicken for dinner) and grow up to become chicken farmers, she wants to get rid of the birds. The boys decide to run away. “Why do fools fall in love” is used on the soundtrack and we get to see different types of love. This short won a BAFTA Film Award for Best British Short Film. (UK). Running time: 14 minutes. In English.


Directors: Oded Binnun and Mihal Breezes

In this 2012, live-action short, Aya (Sarah Adler) is trying to contact someone on her cellphone when she is asked hold a sign for a person who must move his car. While the man is gone, the person he was waiting for, a Mr. Overby (Ulrich Thomsen), is an older man with gray hair in a dark suit, sweater vest and a white shirt. He has had an “extremely unmemorable flight” and hasn’t eaten for six hours because he’s allergic to airplane food. She takes Mr. Overby to a nearby snack bar so he can get a sandwich and now waits for two people: The person she was originally waiting for and the man who originally held the sign. The man is a jury member for the Rubinstein Piano Competition. She decides to become this man’s driver and she drives him to Jerusalem and it’s a while before she admits who she really is, but what are her intentions?

“Never follow your heart,” he tells her. “Life is much easier.”  Do we really want an easy life? The movie won the Best Short Feature Film from the Awards of the Israeli Film Academy and the Best Foreign Short Jury Award from the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival.  (France, Israel) Running time: 39 minutes. In Hebrew, English, Danish with English subtitles.

“The Phone Call”

Directors: Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

A young woman (Sally Hawkins) is working for a small crisis center phone line when she receives a call from a suicidal older man. He tells her his name is Stanley (Jim Broadbent). She tells him her name is Heather. Stanley is barely holding back the grief and fear in his voice. His wife, Molly,  died two years ago and he’s so lonely, but he wishes to join her. This becomes a touching story about a love that endured and a love that has potential. This short won the Audience Award (Special Recognition) at the Aspen Shortsfest and the Youth Jury Prize at the same festival. (UK) Running time: 21 minutes. In English.

“Butter Lamp” (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)

Directors: Hu Wei and Julien Féret

In a little town in Tibet, the inhabitants don’t need to sightsee. They have the sights brought to them as a photographer and his assistant photograph the inhabitants of a remote Tibetan village. Different backgrounds roll down from a squeaky support. The first photo background is of Forbidden City with large photo of Mao Tse-dong, but his portrait is obscured when a group of people stand in front. A the center is an elderly woman who holds the photo of a child who has passed away. Other backgrounds include a reproduction of a painted crane scroll, the Great Wall of China, the red carpet at a Disneyland or a famous palace (Potala Palace). The Poltala Palace is in Lhasa Tibet and was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 19th Dalai Lama was forced to flee to India in 1959.  The village has 248 households and when a new road finished in the spring, they’ll be able to save 10 hours traveling to a larger city.  The people wear a mix of traditional clothing and modern, including camouflage print jackets. Grandmother Ama Lhamo Tso has always wanted to visit the Potala Palace, but they have to change her backdrop to a tropical island because she keeps bowing to the background. During this photo session, the mayor comes by to make announcements about the upcoming visit of New Socialist Campaign authorities and a stolen sacred yak. Before the photographers leave, one of the villagers requests that they take yak butter to burn at Potala Palace. This short has won several awards including the Golden Horse Film Festival,  AFI Festival, Angers European First Film Festival, Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival. (France, China) Running time: 15 minutes. In Tibetan with English subtitles.

Both programs open at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 on February 13. 

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