BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA—”This is the ultimate sell-out,” host Peter Riegert told the audience at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. “More than any other Academy event. Every seat sold out in 15 minutes.”
The filmmakers nominated in the Animated Short and Live-Action Short categories were being honored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Tuesday with a screening of all ten of the films.
Why are shorts so popular? Riegert quizzed the crowd. “Audiences recognize a good thing. These are real film makers that sweat and fight and go out and get it done. They got here because of an idea they had.” Riegert should know: he was a Live Action Short nominee in 2001 for By Courier.
Animated and Live Action Shorts are “like the little brothers of full length feathers. Short films are getting more popular than ever and are breaking [box office] records,” he explained.
The Shorts in Animation and Live Action were trimmed from a list of 80 qualified films, which were reduced to the final 10, five in Animation and five in Live Action. In the past, three films were nominated; this year it was increased to five.
Earlier, the nominees met with the media at a reception. Spanish filmmaker Javier Recio Gracia’s film The Lady and the Reaper is nominated in the Animation category and features an elderly lady hoping death will reunite her with her deceased husband. She wakes up in a hospital ward to a doctor trying to bring her back to life.
Gracia’s film is based on personal experiences with his grandmother’s death. “My grandma was passing away very slowly and nicely with my family,” he says. “But some people aren’t so lucky. Lots of people die long and painfully. It’s something new and important in our society.”
This is the first Oscar nomination for 28-year-old Gracia—and his first movie. “I worked in a studio and the studio gave me the funding and I had a lot of luck,” he says. “I am not an independent, I work for a studio.”
He said he sketched his idea on a storyboard then later in animation. “It took one and a half years and 25 people working on it.”
Fabrice Joubert’s short animated film French Roast took 60 people to make and Nicky Phelan’s animated short film Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty 30 people. Joubert said that each time drawing the hair and beard of the tramp starring in his movie took almost as long as the film’s running time.
Phelan, of Ireland, has been enjoying the attention being an Oscar-nominated filmmaker brings. “I have heard from everyone in my life, including the girl who sat next to me in the third grade,” he says.
In the Short Film Live Action category, director Juanita Wilson got her movie idea from a page and a half story a man wrote about his experience with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. “His story was so profoundly moving I decided to turn it into a film. I was turned down twice. But I have a passion and I have patience.”
Wilson, also from Ireland, said she has had a very good response from her country on her Academy Award nomination.
Gregg Helvey’s live-action short film, Kavi, focuses on the brick-making season in India. “The biggest form of slavery is bonded labor,” he says. “I didn’t know slavery still existed.”
It took a year for Drew Bailey and Luke Doolan to find funding for their nominated Short Live Action film, Miracle Fish. The film features child actor Karl Beattie, who is pivotal to the plot. He was the first and only actor considered by Bailey and Doolan.
The Academy Award-nominated films in the Animated Short and Live-Action Short categories are:
Animated Short Film
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper
A Matter of Loaf and Death
Live Action Short Film
Instead of Abracadabra
The New Tenants
The nominated Animated and Live Action Shorts are playing in Minneapolis at the Lagoon Cinema.