It’s been over a decade since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) decided it was a wise (and popular) move to bundle the Oscar-nominated shorts together and release them in theaters just before the gold statuettes are awarded. All three of the 2018 collections are being screened locally.
The Documentary Shorts
All five of the USA-made docs tackle a burning social issue. Director/Producer/Editor Laura Checkoway introduces us to the 96-year-old and 95-year-old newlyweds Edith and Eddie kept apart by Edith’s daughter because they are from different races.
Clinically depressed artist Mindy Alper is featured in Frank Stiefel’s Heaven Is a Traffic Jam On the 405.
Husband and wife team Elaine and Kerrin Sheldon visit the small town in West Virginia that fights against being labelled the overdose capital of America in Heroin(e).
Recently released prisoners learn culinary artistry from Cleveland master chef Brandon Chrostowski in Thomas Lennon’s Knife Skills.
Kate Davis recreates the back-story and uses police car camera footage to show the arrest of African-American school teacher Brealon King in Traffic Stop.
The Live Action Shorts
Reed Van Dyke used an actual 911 call to create DeKalb Elementary about a school secretary (Tarra Riggs) taken hostage by a heavily-armed gunman (Bo Mitchell).
My Nephew Emmett tells the backstory of the notorious 1955 lynching of Emmett Till from the point-of-view of the teen’s uncle Mose (L. B. Williams).
An Australian psychiatrist’s temp secretary (Eliza Logan) thinks she is talking to her new boss (Josh Lawson) until another man (Damon Harriman) shows up claiming he is the therapist in Derin Seale’s farcical The Eleven O’Clock.
The UK entry features a deaf girl (Maisie Sly) learning sign language against her hearing parent’s wishes in Chris Overton’s The Silent Child.
Inspired by a real incident, a young Christian widow (Adelyne Warimu) living in Kenya boards a bus that’s hijacked by al-Shabaab terrorists in Katja Benrath’s German/Kenyan entry Wutu Wote (All of Us).
The Animated Shorts
This collection raises a number of ethical questions.
The first is allowing such a public showcase for Kobe Bryant’s attempt to rewrite his womanizing, arrested for rape image by reading his own script about using his dad’s rolled up socks as a basketball when he was a little kid and how the pains of old age forced his “early” retirement in Dear Basketball. I can only assume Bryant playing for the LA Lakers added a “home-court advantage” to the nomination votes.
Perennial Oscar nominee Pixar picked up another nomination with Lou, an anti-bullying PSA about a “misunderstood” kid who steals toys away from his classmates only to have an anthropomorphic lost-and-found box teach him the error of his ways by bullying him. Director Dave Mullins claims the bully was inspired by his own childhood experiences  and neighborhood bully Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. The French entry features a bullet-riddled chateauinvaded by beautifully animated frogs and toads hopping over, under, around and through crime scenes in Florian Babikian’s Garden Party.
 Baltimore-based stop-motion animators Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata tell the moving story of a father and son who connect through the art and science of packing a suitcase in their brilliant Negative Space.
The entry from the UK features the first half of the BBC’s two-part Revolting Rhymes TV special based on Roald Dahl’s 1982 picture-book-poem. That made-for-TV pedigree should have eliminated this short from being nominated as a theatrically-released movie. The 29-minute running time allows for depth in this clever combining of three classic fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Three Little Pigs). Told from the Big Bad Wolf’s point-of-view to a tea-sipping, Little-Old-Lady-Babysitter, this is the most cleverly plotted of the 2018 animated shorts.
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