Oscar Shorts 2019: Live action, documentary, and animation creates space for local visual learning

Through Mar. 9 (Documentary, Animation), through Mar. 14 (Live Action)
You could spend the weekend scouring the web for access to the many short films nominated for Oscars this year and maybe eventually discover them. Or you could just visit the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA) and see all of the 2019 Academy Award nominees in one place.

What makes this annual film series so important for locals is the chance to screen the 2019 Oscar-nominated shorts in the genres of animation, documentary, and live action. Specifically for filmmakers (or those thinking of becoming one), this opportunity creates an informal classroom as the best of contemporary cinema are projected here. 

Here is a quick overview of three short film programs being screened at UICA: 

Oscar Shorts 2019: Animation

Animal Behavior
Synopsis: Dealing with what comes naturally isn’t easy, especially for animals.

Bao (Winner) 
Synopsis: An aging Chinese mom suffering from empty nest syndrome gets another chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings springs to life as a lively, giggly dumpling boy. Mom excitedly welcomes this new bundle of joy into her life, but Dumpling starts growing up fast, and Mom must come to the bittersweet revelation that nothing stays cute and small forever. 

Late Afternoon
Synopsis: Emily is an elderly woman who lives between two states, the past and the present. She journeys into an inner world, reliving moments from her life. She searches for a connection within her vivid, but fragmented memories. 

One Small Step 
Synopsis: Luna is a vibrant young Chinese American girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut. From the day she witnesses a rocket launching into space on TV, Luna is driven to reach for the stars. In the big city, Luna lives with her loving father Chu, who supports her with a humble shoe repair business he runs out of his garage. As Luna grows up, she enters college, facing adversity of all kinds in pursuit of her dreams. 

Weekends 
Synopsis: The story of a young boy shuffling between the homes of his recently divorced parents. Surreal dream-like moments mix with the domestic realities of a broken family in this hand-animated film set in 1980s Toronto. 


Oscar Shorts 2019: Documentary

Black Sheep
Synopsis: Everything changed for Cornelius Walker on 27 November 2000 when Damilola Taylor was killed. Damilola was 11, the same age as Cornelius. He lived five minutes away. He had the same skin colour. Cornelius’s mother, scared for her son’s safety, moved their family out of London. Cornelius suddenly found himself living on a white estate run by racists. But rather than fight them, Cornelius decided to become more like the people who hated him. They became his family and kept him safe. And in return, Cornelius became submerged in a culture of violence and hatred. But as the violence and racism against other black people continued, Cornelius struggled to marry his real identity with the one he had acquired. 
 
End Game
Synopsis: Where will loved ones spend their last days? Who will be in the room? What feelings and secrets need to be shared with family before it is too late? 

Lifeboat 
Synopsis: Volunteers from a German non-profit risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts pushing off from Libya in the middle of the night. Lifeboat puts a human face on one of the world’s greatest contemporary, global crises and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in the refugee crisis in a meaningful way. 

A Night at the Garden
Synopsis: In 1939, 20,000 Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism — an event largely forgotten from American history. A Night at the Garden, made entirely from archival footage filmed that night, transports audiences to this chilling gathering and shines a light on the power of demagoguery and anti-Semitism in the United States. 

Period. End of Sentence (Winner)
Synopsis: In a rural village outside Delhi, India, women lead a quiet revolution. They fight against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation. For generations, these women didn’t have access to pads, which lead to health problems and girls missing school or dropping out entirely. But when a sanitary pad machine is installed in the village, the women learn to manufacture and market their own pads, empowering the women of their community. They name their brand “FLY,” because they want women “to soar.” Their flight is, in part, enabled by the work of high school girls half a world away, in California, who raised the initial money for the machine and began a non-profit called “The Pad Project.” 


Oscar Shorts 2019: Live Action

Detainment 
Synopsis: Two ten year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts from the James Bulger case which shocked the world in 1993 and continues to incite public outrage across the UK today. 

Fauve 
Synopsis: Set in a surface mine, two boys sink into a seemingly innocent power game with Mother Nature as the sole observer. Alone in the wild the two boys play around. Complicity evolves into a confrontation where one wants to have power over the other. Taking proportions larger than nature, this game will not prove as harmless as they thought. 

Marguerite
Synopsis: An aging woman and her nurse develop a friendship that inspires her to unearth unacknowledged longing and thus help her make peace with her past. 

Madre (Mother)
Synopsis: A single mother receives a call from her seven-year-old son who is on vacation with his father in the French Basque Country. At first the call is a cause for joy, but soon it becomes a horrible nightmare when the child tells her that he is alone and cannot find his father who left a while ago. 

Skin
Synopsis: A small supermarket in a blue collar town, a black man smiles at a 10 year old white boy across the checkout aisle. This innocuous moment sends two gangs into a ruthless war that ends with a shocking backlash. 

 
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