Spoiler alert! If you are planning to see the films that were nominated for an Oscar in the Short (Live Action) category this year, don’t read this article. I had the pleasure of seeing them recently and I am about to reveal the sweet surprises you’ll find in two of them. I happened to be in the mood for a movie one day and saw this option at a local theater showing all the nominated Short Live Action films at one sitting. I really enjoyed all the films but two stood out to me because they were about people and the role the arts played in their lives.
The Short Film Goes To…
The first short film that was played, and the one that happened to win the Oscar, was entitled “Sing” or its original title “Mindenki” directed and co-written by Kristóf Deák. The director is quoted as saying that his film was inspired by a true story. I did not realize that at the time of the viewing but I did think as I was watching the short film that the basic premise could likely be true and that made me sad.
The story was set in Hungary about a little girl who is changing schools and overhears the choir rehearsing. She remarks how beautiful the singing is to the headmaster of the school and he tells her that if she loves to sing she is welcome to join. He is proud of the fact that they allow all students to join their award-winning chorus.
Watching this young lady in rehearsal, smiling and singing away is heart-warming until her choral director holds her after class to explain that the competition that this chorus is sure to win is only 2 weeks away and she has much work to do on her singing. The director shows her how to mouth the words and sing the song only in her head. Seeing how this affected the girl is as heart-breaking as seeing her joy in singing was heart-warming. But fear not, word gets out and this little girl and her new best friend find a way to expose the truth and relish in the joy of making music together!
What’s a Timecode?
The other film that stood out to me was called “Timecode” directed and co-written by Juanjo Gimenez Pena. The dialogue is nearly non-existent and there are only 4 people in the whole film. The story revolves around two security guards, one man, and one woman, who sits in a booth and monitor security cameras in a private parking garage. The two guards rotate their watch relieving the other and exchange only a few words in passing. One day, the woman is asked to review footage to investigate damage to one of the vehicles and she punches in a timecode to access the footage.
It is there she discovers her fellow guard has been dancing his shift away. Although they still barely speak to one another, they begin to leave each other post-it notes with timecodes to share dance moves. In the end, it is revealed that ultimately they had begun dancing together as well as apart. The movements are fluid and beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. To see such beauty performed in such a harsh-looking and sterile environment and the sweetness of their secret made the dancing that much more special.
As much as I love and value art, I can still forget how beautiful and life-affirming it can be. If you are in need of some life-affirming art appreciation, I highly recommend checking out these gems that will take no more than an hour of your time but will stay with you long after that.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.