Oscar noms for shorts sees European films ride high

The Oscar nominations for 2015 have seen a diverse range of European films given the chance to vie for the top prize at the Academy Award ceremony due to be held on February 22nd.

In the Live Action short category, a particularly popular choice will be Butter Lamp (La lampe au beurre de yak) (Dir. Hu Wei, France/China) which has already had a share of accolades across the festival circuit with awards at the likes of Clermont-Ferrand and Winterthur. The film is also cited in the recent Cineuropa Top 5 Shorts of 2014.

Also nominated is French / Israeli co-production Aya (Dirs. Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun, France / Israel, 2013) is the story of a woman who – after she picks up a Danish music researcher who mistakenly thinks she is his designated driver – decides to keep up the pretence to see where it will take here. The film includes Festen actor Ulrich Thomsen.

Other films in the Live Action short include two UK entries, Northern Irish film Boogaloo And Graham (Dir. Michael Lennox, UK, 2014) (already nominated for a BAFTA) and The Phone Call (Dir. Mat Kirkby, UK, 2014) a powerful story of a hotline worker trying to deal with a depressed caller that stars Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent.

The list for Live Action films is rounded off by Parvaneh (Dir. Talkhon Hamzavi, Switzerland, 2012), a product of the Zurich University of Arts about a young Afghan immigrant who lives in a transit centre for asylum in the Swiss mountains.

In the Animation shorts section, UK film The Bigger Picture (Dir. Daisy Jacobs, UK, 2014) – a product of the UK’s National Film and Television School - was another popular choice in the Cineuropa Top 5. Dutch film A Single Life (Dirs. Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins & Marieke Blaauw, The Netherlands, 2014) sees young girl Pia suddenly able to travel through her life when playing a mysterious vinyl single. The film is due to play in competition at the upcoming edition of Clermont-Ferrand. Norwegian director Torill Kove receives her third Oscar nomination for Me and My Moulton (Moulton og meg) (Dir. Torill Kove, Canada, 2013), the 1960s’ story of a seven-year-old girl whose modernist architect parents are a source of embarrassment and anxiety for her. Two US films – Feast and The Dam Keeper – are also nominated.

Poland is keeping it’s fingers crossed after two shorts appear in the Best Short Documentary. First is the brilliantly moving Our Curse (Nasza klatwa) (Dir. Tomasz Sliwinski, Poland, 2014), about a family dealing with the illness of their child. The second is the equally moving Wajda Film School produced Joanna (Dir. Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013) about a woman dealing with her terminal illness. Two US films – White Earth and Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – and Mexican film The Reaper round out the nominations.

19 January 2015, by Laurence Boyce