Animated Program >>>Animated Program (110 minutes) Whenever Disney is nominated (especially when Pixar’s John Lasseter is one of the executive producers), that film is an instant favorite to win. Get a Horse! is a frantic mix of old b&w Mickey and friends with modern color, but it is far from the only animated short with a chance to win it all. Feral, my pick for the big win, is the glorious, surreal story of a boy raised by wolves who is “domesticated” by a man and groomed to blend in society. It is an unforgettable hymn about freedom and following one’s nature. The other strong contender is Room on the Broom, where a gentle witch is joined by an ever-growing group of friends whose love saves her from a dragon—but that’s only the beginning of the story (no spoilers here). Japan’s Possessions is a trippy tale of a man surrounded by objects animated by goblins, and France’s Mr. Hublot introduces a metallic world in which a man transforms a street dog into a robotic pet.
Live Action Program >>>Live Action Program (108 minutes) My favorite is France’s Just Before Losing Everything, a dark tale of domestic abuse with unbearable tension and no graphic violence. It is the exact opposite of Spain’s That Wasn’t Me, a brutal, powerful, in-your-face redemption story of aid workers in Africa encountering a child soldier blinded by the madness of war. UK’s The Voorman Problem offers a psychiatrist interviewing a prisoner who’s convinced he’s a god (or God himself?). Just when the intellectual counterpoint begins to flirt with clichés, the film takes a clever turn that makes everything fall in its proper place. Helium is the heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting and magical story of a dying Danish boy whose pain is alleviated by the endless imagination of the hospital’s janitor. Finland’s Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? (which was one of 10 finalists in the 2012 Manhattan Short Film Festival, shown in San Antonio at URBAN-15) is the hilarious story of a stressed-out, messy Finnish family overcoming obstacles in order to attend a wedding. Or so they think.
Documentary Program >>>
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