Quick flicks

A Collection of 2006 Academy Award Nominated Short Films

Calling the short film a difficult art form would be an understatement. Shorts are difficult to fund, difficult to distribute and, with their brief running times, sometimes difficult for audiences to connect with. But A Collection of 2006 Academy Award Nominated Short Films, from Magnolia Home Entertainment, proves that the cream of the crop always is worth a look.

First up on the animated side is the Oscar winner The Danish Poet, a simple, hand-drawn tale about developing coincidences in a poet’s journey toward fulfillment. The animation category champion, though, is Maestro, a very short, inventive, deceptively simple story using CGI animation to produce a sharp and stark look.

Otherwise, live action definitely dominates the disc. Too bad the most notable of that bunch (the winner) is also the weakest. Ari Sandal’s West Bank Story is an uninspired parody of West Side Story set at dueling fast food stands on the West Bank, and its one obvious, unfunny joke seems better suited to a bad SNL skit than an Academy Award. Far more humorous is Australia’s The Saviour, about a Mormon missionary who has struck up an illicit relationship with a married woman he’s trying to convert. Unlike West Bank Story, this quirky and uncomfortable comedy is consistently funny—and even wraps up quite heart-warmingly in the end.

But the one work that definitely got robbed of a rightful victory is the exceptional Binta & the Great Idea, from Spain. Set in Africa, it tells two interconnected tales of people trying to improve their impoverished community in two very different ways. With important lessons and a realistic look at life in a very different country, Binta is educational as well as entertaining—and truly the best achievement that a short film can hope for.