The most popular event of the year starts at the Detroit Film Theatre on January 29. That is the presentation of all of the Academy Award nominated shorts.
The live action and animated shorts will be shown together over three weekends. The documentary shorts will be shown on two separate dates. It is HIGHLY recommended you purchase your tickets in advance as these screenings have sold out quickly in past years.
Detroiters have embraced the Oscar shorts program at the DFT tremendously. “We have sold more tickets than any other city that shows the Oscar shorts,”said DFT Theatre Manager Margaret Thomas.
The documentary shorts are:
- “Ave Maria”, directed by Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont. Five nuns living in the West Bank find their routine disrupted when the car of a family of Israeli settlers breaks down outside the convent. Unable to use the telephone due to Sabbath restrictions, the family needs help from the nuns, but the sisters’ vow of silence requires them to work with their visitors to find an unorthodox solution.
- “Day One”, directed by Henry Hughes. Inspired by a true story, an Afghan-American woman on the brink of a divorce joins the American military as an interpreter. On her first day of deployment in Afghanistan, her unit searches out the remote house of a bomb-maker. When the bomb-maker’s pregnant wife goes into labor, the interpreter must go beyond the call of duty to deliver her breech child.
- “Everything Will Be Okay”, directed by Patrick Vollrath. In this unusual film, a divorced father picks up his eight-year-old daughter Lea. It seems pretty much like every second weekend, but after a while Lea can’t help feeling that something isn’t right. A fateful journey begins for the two of them.
- “Shok”, directed by Jamie Donoghue. Two young boys are best friends living normal lives in 1998 Kosovo, but as war engulfs their country; their daily existence becomes filled with violence and fear. Soon, the choices they make threaten not only their friendship, but their families and their lives.
- “Stutterer”, directed by Benjamin Cleary. An online relationship has provided a much-needed connection for a lonesome typographer without revealing the speech impediment that has kept him isolated. Now he finds himself faced with the proposition of meeting his online paramour in the flesh, and must conquer all of his fears.
The animated shorts are:
- “Bear Story”, directed by Gabriel Osorio Vargas. A melancholy old bear takes a mechanical diorama that he has created out to his street corner every day. For a coin, passersby can look into the peephole of his invention, which tells the story of a circus bear who longs to escape and return to the family from which he was taken.
- “Prologue”, directed by Richard Williams (who won two Oscars for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”; one for Best Visual Effects, the other was a special Oscar for his animation direction of the film). 2,400 years ago, four warriors — two Spartan and two Athenian — battle to the death in an intense struggle witnessed by a little girl, who then runs to her grandmother for comfort.
- “Sanjay’s Super Team”, directed by Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle. Produced by Pixar Animation Studios, it follows Sanjay, a first-generation Indian-American boy who is obsessed with television, cartoons and his superhero action figures. He is reluctant to spend time in daily prayers and meditation with his devout Hindu father, but a flight of imagination helps him develop a new perspective that he and his father can both embrace.
- “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”, directed by Konstantin Bronzit. It tells the story of two best friends who have dreamed of becoming cosmonauts since childhood, and shows them enduring the rigors of training and public scrutiny, and making the sacrifices necessary to achieve their shared goal.
- “World of Tomorrow”, directed by Don Hertzfeldt. A little girl named Emily is taken on a fantastical tour of her distant future by a surprising visitor who reveals unnerving secrets about humanity’s fate.
The documentary shorts are:
- “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”. Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, it focuses on religiously motivated honor killings in Pakistan, especially in rural areas. Over 1,000 girls and women are innocent victims of these horrific killings. Eighteen-year-old Saba, who fell in love and eloped, was targeted by her father and uncle but survived to tell her story.
- “Body Team 12”, directed by David Darg and Bryn Mooser. The film takes us to Monrovia, Liberia, where Garmai Sumo is the only female member of Body Team 12, one of the many teams collecting the bodies of those who died from Ebola during the height of the 2014 outbreak. Despite the perilous nature of her job and the distrust with which she is often met, Garmai remains dedicated to her work, and she and the team emerge as heroes while the film explores their philosophy and strength.
- “Chau, Beyond the Lines”, directed by Courtney Marsh. The film profiles Chau, a 16-year old living in a Vietnamese care center for children born with birth defects due to Agent Orange, who struggles with the difficulties of realizing his dream to become a professional artist and clothing designer. Despite being told that his ambitions are unrealistic, Chau is determined to live an independent, productive life.
- “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”, directed by Adam Benzine. It introduces us to filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, who discusses the personal and professional difficulties he encountered during the more than 12 years it took to create the 1985 Holocaust documentary “Shoah”. Lanzmann also discusses his relationships with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and his teenage years spent fighting in the French Resistance during World War II.
- “Last Day of Freedom”, directed by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman. When Bill Babbitt learned his brother Manny had committed a crime, he agonized over the decision to call the police, knowing that Manny could face the death penalty but hoping he would instead receive the help he needed. Manny, an African-American veteran who served two tours in Vietnam suffered from PTSD and had found it difficult to obtain healthcare.
The live action and animated shorts run the weekends of January 29 through 31, February 5 through 7, and February 11 through 14. Show times and tickets are available here.
The documentary shorts run Thursday, February 4 at 7 P.M., and Saturday, February 6 at 2 P.M. Tickets prices for all screenings are $9.50, $7.50 for members of the Detroit Institute of Arts, seniors and students. Tickets for the documentary shorts may be purchased here.