MONTCLAIR, NJ - On Sunday, Mt. Hebron Middle School hosted Oscar Shorts  “Celebrate the Underdog”, a one-day film marathon, presented by Corinna Sager and Jeanne Reilly.

Where and when can we see fabulous short films? The short answer is, not often, anywhere. Short movies do not make money for theaters and hence the general public does not usually have a chance to view them.

The showings began shortly after 10 a.m. Background information for each film was presented live by Sager, followed by the full-length film.  Sager discussed the how filmmakers go through a long process to reach the short list for Oscar nomination.

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The schedule included:

  • Boogaloo and Graham by Michael Lennox
  • White Earth by J. Christian Jensen
  • Me and My Moulton by Torill Kove
  • The Phone Call by Mat Kirkby
  • Joanna by Aneta Kopacz
  • The Single Life by Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins and Job Roggeveen
  • Feast by Patrick Osborne
  • Crisis Hotline by Ellen Goosenberg Kent
  • The Bigger Picture by Daisy Jacobs
  • The Reaper by Gariel Serra Arguello
     

A short summary of each film can be found at http://www.oscarshortsmontclair.com/5.html.

During the morning session Me and My Moulten (14 min.) by a Norwegian woman, Torrill Kove, who previously won an Oscar, was the first film. This was her third nomination. The film was based on the director’s childhood. Her parents were a bit eccentric and the story is about how the children felt like their family was peculiar, at the time, but now look back fondly on their parents’ quirks.

The second movie, Boogaloo and Graham (14 min.), took place in Belfast 1978 where there was much unrest. It is by the Irish director Michael Lennox. This filmmaker’s movie was funded by the UK lottery. It’s a story about children whose pet chicks grow into messy hens, and when their parents find out another child is on the way, they say the chickens need to go. The children run away at night to save their chickens, and are nearly shot by soldiers.

White Earth (20 min.), by J. Christian Jensen was a modern version of the gold rush. The movie is about our current oil fields, based on the director’s thesis for his MFA. It is about an exodus of workers leaving Southern Utah and flocking to North Dakota. The film depicted the desolate winter landscape and the equally desolate lives of the children whose parents work on the oil fields.

The Phone Call (21 min.) starred Sally Hawkins as a crisis hotline operator who is trying to persuade her caller, who has taken pills to commit suicide, to let her know where he is, so she can send an ambulance. She is not able to save him, but the movie’s ending no less fostered deep love of life and living.

Many incredibly talented young filmmakers, trying to break into the industry, will start out by making short films, but most people will not have a chance to watch them. Sunday's audience had the opportunity to view all the current year's Oscar nominated short films at this venue.

Mary Struber, an audience member said,  "I enjoyed all the shorts very much. It was my first time at this event."

Several parents, who were under the impression the first two hours were dedicated to children's movies, were slightly taken aback by the content. While all of the movies were high quality, entertaining, and poignant, many of them were quite emotional for them.

Krista Harris, an audience member, said, "They were powerful films. I really appreciated getting a chance to see them. The subject matter, however, was heavy for the younger kids."

Wiping tears away, some parents worried about the themes. However, as children streamed out of the auditorium smiling and ready to enjoy snacks, and partake in buying raffle tickets, it was clear that they were equally entertained, but nowhere near as touched as their parents.