Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Shorts on a Winter Day—February 3, 2014

My husband and I are short-film fans. You know, the ones you never get to see on movie screens, the ones that are less than feature length—sometimes as short as just a couple of minutes, sometimes close to an hour. Unfortunately, usually the only way you can see any of these films is at a film festival, if you’re lucky enough to have one in your area. (We are fortunate to have one in Rhode Island every August, and short films make up a big part of it.)

Over the weekend one of our art-film houses (we have two in Providence! aren’t we lucky?) presented two programs of the Oscar-nominated short films: one program for the animated films and one for the live-action. We saw both. Both were very much worth seeing, although I slightly preferred the live-action ones.

It made me wonder why something can’t be done to give these wonderful films wider distribution to make them available to larger audiences.

The filmmakers who create these little gems are highly talented writers, directors, actors, and so forth who put their hearts (and their money) into doing what they love. Short films give them opportunities to be as creative as they can be and run a spectrum from innovative to weird to funny to serious. Many short-film makers have gone on to become directors of full-length features.

These films are like the short story is to the novel: a story told concisely and compactly, something that requires great skill and discipline (as any writer who’s written short stories knows). Some of them are even closer to poetry, the poetry of the image.

They deserve to be seen.

I remember a time (I know, I’m old) when it was common for theaters to run short films in front of the feature. Now they run commercials. (A rant for another time, but it makes me furious to pay ten dollars or more to see a movie and have to watch ten minutes of commercials before it.)

I know every business has to do all it can to make money these days, no matter how exploitive or inconvenient to its customers. But each time we’ve gone to a program like this it’s been a sellout. I believe there’s a big audience for these films if only they were more readily available.

How great would it be if someone finally recognized that?
PS: For the record, my favorites were M. Hublot and Room on the Broom in animation and The Voorman Problem and Just Before You Lose Everything  in live action. If you watch the Academy Awards, see if I’m right!



  1. I totally agree. My favorite live action short was "Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?" We were not impressed with any of the animated shorts this year.

  2. Steve and I have never seen shorts. I would imagine that there's some type of venue between here and Toronto that has a festival like you described. I'll have to check it out - it sounds like a very cool new thing for us. :)