Two upcoming screenings of Oscar Nominated Shorts offer particularly welcome diversion for sufferers from post-Super Bowl blues. The Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will present the five nominees for Best Animated Short on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Katharine Cornell Theatre. The following Saturday, Feb. 18, also at the Cornell Theatre, the five Best Live-Action Short nominees will play.
The roster of animation shorts starts with a 10-minute Canadian entry, “Sunday” (“Dimanche”), directed by Patrick Doyon. In it, an imaginatively animated family visits the grandparents and life rolls along with the regularity of the train rattling through town.
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” is a 15-minute American nominee and my favorite. Directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, this fantasy about a reader who finds his books coming to life, carries echoes of Hurricane Katrina, “The Wizard of Oz,” and silent film classics. It uses animation to celebrate the power of books and storytelling with many clever cinematic techniques.
Another American nominee, “La Luna,” has been directed by Enrico Casarosa and concerns a small boy’s journey to the moon with his grandparents launched from a small boat. This seven-minute cinematic excursion offers viewers a charming light show.
In “A Morning Stroll,” the seven-minute British animation by Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe follows the stroll by a New Yorker past a chicken on a mission. Several time jumps reprise that same walk with surprising and interesting results.
Starting on the 1909 Canadian frontier, a Canadian entry, “Wild Life,” narrates the story of an Englishmen who has adjustment problems to his new lifestyle. A comet overhead seems to reflect his dilemma.
The five live-action nominees, playing the following Saturday, are longer and more consistently narrative-based. An 11-minute Irish entry by Peter McDonald, “Pentecost,” follows the misadventures of a young altar boy with a devoutly Catholic father. Sports fans will get a kick out of the clever double-entendres in this film, particularly at the end.
The most deeply affecting short, “Raju,” clocks in at 24 minutes. This English/German film, directed by Max Zahle and Stefan Giefan, travels to India with a German family who is adopting the small boy named Raju. When Raju disappears, suspense builds as one unexpected turn follows another, outlining some of the risks in adoption.
After 25 years in the U.S., Irishman Jim Mahon returns to Northern Ireland in the 31-minute “The Shore,” from Northern Ireland directors Terry George and Oorlagh George. Traveling with his American daughter, Patty, Jim confesses to her a past related to the “Troubles,” and they visit his long-lost love and close friend. Shots of shoreline and men collecting mussels will help make this film a sentimental favorite.
In a genre well-suited to comedy, 11-minute “Time Freak” by U.S. director Andrew Bowler portrays an obsessive inventor who has finally succeeded in creating a time machine. How he uses it becomes the source of one bit of silliness after another.
Norwegian Hallvar Witzo has directed the final Oscar Live-Action entry, a 25-minute fantasy called “Tuba Atlantic.” Crusty old Oscar learns he is going to die in six days. With help from a pretty “Death Angel,” he gets in touch with his long-alienated brother, thanks to a bizarre machine the two of them invented years ago.
Each of nominees for the Animated and Live-Action short Oscars will keep viewers, who can try to predict the winners, entertained and will keep the winter doldrums at bay.
Oscar Nominations for Best Animated Short, Saturday, Feb. 11, 7:30 pm, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven. $8; $5 for MVFS members. Doors open at 7 pm.
Oscar Nominations for Best Live-Action Short, Saturday, Feb. 18, 7:30 pm, Katharine Cornell Theatre. $8; $5 for MVFS members. Doors open at 7 pm. More information at mvfilmsociety.com.