Watch it! Short stuff! (Live action version)

The Oscar ceremonies are a few weeks away yet, but later this week Twin Cities and Twin Ports audiences will get their fleeting chance to check out the contenders for the short live action and short animation prizes.

The live action nominees form a lively, if dark, selection, featuring entries set in India, Australia, Russia, Sweden, and the USA, although several of them have international production teams. The stories range from a social commentary piece on child labor practices (“Kiva,”) to a twisted tale of apartment living adapted by, and starring, David Rakoff called “The New Tenants.” There is the story of a lonely grade schooler in an Australian school “Miracle Fish” and a tragic tale of a family caught in an environmental disaster (“The Door.”) A tale of a wannabe magician trying to survive his parents demands he get a real job, “Instead of Abracadabra,” rounds out the pack.

Once a staple of the silver screen, the short film is not so well known to many filmgoers nowadays, which is a real shame. Like a great short story, a great short film delivers a slice of life with at least one twist to give viewers a small glimpse of a greater truth or absurdity. All five of the live action short nominees deliver.

The films open this weekend at the Lagoon Theater in Minneapolis and the Zinema 2 in Duluth. Also after a couple of weeks in the theaters the movies will be available for download through iTunes on March 2nd.

I’ll write up the animation (which includes a new Wallace and Gromit episode from Nick Parks) tomorrow.

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