Oscars: Belcourt Theatre Hosts Nominated Shorts Screenings

Today the Belcourt Theatre opens its annual look at animation, live action and documentary shorts nominated for Academy Awards™ in the run-up to March 2’s Oscars™ ceremony. (And remember that the best place in Nashville to watch that ceremony is at the Belcourt’s A Red Carpet Evening – click here to get tickets now if you haven’t already.)

As usual the nominees cover a wide range of illuminating perspectives and styles (I’ve seen every one and found something in each that is quite engaging). Included in the mix are the back-to-the-future GET A HORSE! Disney animated short that plays before its current hit feature FROZEN, a very unsettling encounter in the live-action THE VOORMAN PROBLEM featuring Martin Freeman (Dr. Watson in TV’s SHERLOCK and Bilbo Baggins in THE HOBBIT film trilogy) and a look at forgiveness and the development of an unexpected friendship in FACING FEAR from Jason Cohen (the Emmy-winning WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN is one of his credits) among other acclaimed entries.

The animated shorts program runs a total of 110 min. while the live action selections run 108 min. Documentary shorts are split into two sections (97 min. and 87 min.) because of length but the program is presented as a single, regular-priced ticket event with intermission. For showtimes and tickets now through Feb. 27 click here to visit the Belcourt website.

Check out the official trailer followed by photos and brief descriptions of the shorts provided by ShortsHD™:



FeralFERAL/USA/13 min.

Director: Daniel Sousa

Producers: Daniel Sousa and Dan Gordon

Synopsis: A wild boy is found in the woods by a solitary hunter and brought back to civilization. Alienated by a strange new environment, the boy tries to adapt by using the same strategies that kept him safe in the forest.


Director: Lauren MacMullan

Producer: Dorothy McKim

Synopsis: Walt Disney Animation Studios’ innovative new short  is a contemporary homage to the first animated shorts featuring Mickey Mouse, with all-new, black-and-white, hand-drawn animation that’s paired with full-color, 3D, CG filmmaking in the same frame. Mickey (voice of Walt Disney), his favorite gal pal Minnie Mouse and their friends Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow delight in a musical haywagon ride until Peg-Leg Pete shows up and tries to run them off the road. This groundbreaking short takes a sharp turn when Mickey finds himself separated from Minnie and must use every trick up his sleeve to find his way back to her.

MR_HUBLOTMR HUBLOT/Luxembourg and France/11 min.

Director and Producer: Laurent Witz

Co-Director: Alexandre Espigares

Synopsis: Mr Hublot lives in a world where characters are made partially of mechanical parts, driving huge vehicles, rub shoulders with each other. It’s also a world where the giant scale of machines and the relentless use of salvaged materials reign supreme.

A withdrawn, idiosyncratic character with obsessive compulsive disorder, Mr Hublot is scared of change and the outside world. His solution: he doesn’t step foot outside his apartment! The arrival of the dog Robot Pet will turn his life upside down, however, he has to share his home with this very invasive companion.


Director and Writer: Shuhei Morita

Producers: Yasumasa Tsuchiya, Daisuke Uchiyama, Motoki Mukaichi

Synopsis: The 18th Century. On a stormy night, deep in the mountains, a man has lost his way and comes across a small shrine. When he enters, the space suddenly turns into a room in a different world. One after another abandoned umbrellas, discarded kimonos, and other things appear. The man painstakingly mends these paraphernalia, which harbor deep-seated bitterness, and brings them comfort. “How well you served people before you turned to rags. Your rest is earned.”


Director: Max Lang & Jan Lachauer

Producers: Michael Rose and Martin Pope

Synopsis: A half hour animated film based on the wonderful children’s picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It’s a magical tale about friendship and family from Magic Light Pictures, the producers of the hugely successful THE GRUFFALO and GRUFFALO’S CHILD.

A story about a kind witch who invites a surprising collection of animals to join her on her broom, much to the frustration of her cat. The gang ultimately saves the witch from a fearsome dragon, and in gratitude she rewards them with a magnificent new broom which has room for everyone. Featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson (Witch), Rob Brydon (Cat), Martin Clunes (Dog), Sally Hawkins (Bird), Simon Pegg (Narrator), Timothy Spall (Dragon), David Walliams (Frog).



Director: Selma Vilhunen

Producers: Elli Toivoniemi, Tuffi Films Ltd.

Synopsis: Mother Sini wakes up in a panic: she has slept in and the family is late for a wedding. She wakes up her husband Jokke and daughters Ella, 6, and Kerttu, 4. They start to prepare themselves in a hurry. Mother is going crazy since nobody else seems to be able to do anything right. Who has messed father’s shirt, hid the girls’ dresses and the wedding gift?

HELIUMHELIUM/Denmark/23 min.

Director: Anders Walter

Producers: Kim Magnusson, Tivi Magnusson and M&M Productions

Synopsis: A hospital’s eccentric janitor helps a young dying boy regain the joy and happiness of life.


Director: Xavier Legrand

Producer: Nathalie Durand

Synopsis: While her children pretend to go to school, Miriam hurries to pick them up and take them to her work place. She then explains to her boss that she has to leave the region in a rush.


Director: Esteban Crespo

Producer: Primavera M. Ruiz

Synopsis: This short tells the story of Paula and Kaney, an African child and a Spanish woman, who apparently have nothing in common, but will join their lives forever through a shot.


Director: Mark Gill

Producers: Baldwin Li and Lee Thomas

Synopsis: Dr Williams is called in to examine the enigmatic Mr Voorman, a prisoner that believes he is a god. The doctor must decide on the sanity of Mr Voorman: is he a faker or a lunatic? Diagnose him insane and they can ship him off to the asylum. But before making a decision, the doctor has several questions in relation to for Voorman: why would a god choose to be straitjacketed in a prison, is there a way he can validate his boast and what has any of this got to do with Belgium?



Director and Producer: Jeffrey Karoff

Synopsis: Ra Paulette digs cathedral-like, ‘eighth wonder of the world’ art caves into the sandstone cliffs of Northern New Mexico. Each creation takes him years to complete, and each is a masterwork. But patrons who have commissioned caves have cut off nearly all of his projects due to artistic differences. Fed up, Ra has chosen to forego commissions altogether and create a massive, 10-year project, his Magnum Opus.


Director and Producer: Jason Cohen

Synopsis: The worlds of a former neo-Nazi and the gay victim of his senseless hate crime attack collide by chance 25 years after the incident that dramatically shaped both of their lives. They proceed to embark on a journey of forgiveness that challenges both to grapple with their beliefs and fears, eventually leading to an improbable collaboration and friendship.

KARAMA_HAS_NO_WALLSKARAMA HAS NO WALLS/Yemen, UK and United Arab Emirates/26 min.

Director: Sara Ishaq

Producers: Setara Films and Hot Spot Films

Synopsis: This is a documentary film set in Change Square, in Yemen’s capital city Sana’a, where members of a heavily armed population set aside their weapons, and peacefully assembled in early 2011 to demand the fall of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33 year autocratic rule.

As pro-government snipers shot dead 53 protesters and injured a thousand more, the Yemen nation was shaken to its core and the masses flocked to the square in solidarity with their fellow citizens. The film illustrates the nature of the 2011 Yemeni uprising in stark contrast to the gross violations of human rights that took place on the Friday of Dignity (Juma’at El-Karama), marking a turning point in Yemen’s revolution. Through the lenses of two cameramen and the accounts of two fathers, the film retells the story of the people behind the statistics and news reports, encapsulating the tragic events of the day as they unfolded from a prayer gathering into a barrage of bullets.


Director and Producer: Edgar Barens

Synopsis: This film, an HBO Documentary Film that will debut on the network March 31, is a moving cinema verité documentary that breaks through the walls of one of America’s oldest maximum security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner, Jack Hall and the hospice volunteers, they themselves prisoners, who care for him.

The documentary draws from footage shot over a six‐month period behind the walls of the Iowa State Penitentiary and provides a fascinating and often poignant account of how the hospice experience can profoundly touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.


Director and Producer: Malcolm Clarke

Producers: Nick Reed and Chris Branch

Synopsis: This is one of the most inspirational and uplifting stories of the year – 109-year-old Alice Herz Sommer, the world’s oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor, shares her story on how to achieve a long and happy life. She discusses the importance of music, laughter and how to have an optimistic outlook.

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About Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell is the chief theater, film and opera critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He wrote reviews and features about theater, opera and classical music for The Tennessean from 2002 to 2011. He was the theater, film and opera critic for ArtNowNashville.com from 2011 to 2012. Donnell has also contributed to The Sondheim Review, Back Stage, The City Paper (Nashville), the Nashville Banner, The (Bowling Green, Ky.) Daily News and several other publications since beginning his professional journalism career in 1985 with The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat. He was selected as a fellow for the 2004 National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) arts journalism institutes for theater and musical theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2006 and classical music and opera at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 2009. He has also been an actor (member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA), founding and running AthensSouth Theatre from 1996 to 2001 and appearing in Milos Forman's "The People vs Larry Flynt" among other credits. Donnell is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (www.americantheatrecritics.org).