Academy Awards Animated Shorts – Review by Martha K Baker

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Five little films have been nominated in the category of Animated Shorts. These treasures are short in length alone. They are long in creativity, amusement, even in shock, and they are definitely not for children. No Pixar here, nor Looney Tunes or Warner Brothers. These five raise an eyebrow.

Boxballet from Russia is directed by Anton Dyakov. As the conflated title of this 15-minute film suggests, the protagonists are a boxer and a ballerina, the one an ectomorphic sylph who bends and stretches, and the other an endomorphic refrigerator with wounds. Can they live happily ever after?

The Canadian nominee, Affairs of the Art, is witty, starting with the pun in the title. It’s a 16-minute look at art from the point of view of the artist. There is nudity, front and back for males and females, but, of course, that nudity is drawn so is it wrong? The story stars sisters Beverly and Beryl, a tubby man, and a dead mouse. Oh, and Vladimir Lenin.

Bestia, a 14-minute Chilean film by Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Diaz, includes disturbing images but no dialogue. However, clocks ding and dogs bark. Animal abuse exists among the violence. The characters are doll-like with shiny porcelain heads — nothing lovable. Bestia, though, encourages watching the animation as well as following the storyline.

From the USA and Spain comes The Windshield Wiper, directed by Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez. For 14 minutes, this film hides its point, never even explaining that title, but it does ask the question, “What is Love?” The answer stands in the rain and at the shore.

Robin Robin, a nominee from the United Kingdom, delights for a full half-hour. A tiny bird hatches among mice. The wee rodents try to teach the robin how to be a mouse, but, of course, the bird is noisy and rambunctious, just the opposite of good mousieness. Luckily, the robin is mentored in birdieness by a bigger bird with a broken wing, and all these creatures must deal with a larger predator. Oh, no, a cat!

These five little works of animation provide an entree into the world of film so far from Hollywood as to be alien — and awesome.

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Martha K. Baker (Archived Contributor)

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.