Ave Maria is the story of religious Jews on their way home who get into an accident outside of a Palestinian convent whose nuns have taken vows of silence. The family is nervous to stay at the convent and so together they must come up with any kind of solution that helps get the family back home and out of disrupting these nuns' lives. Anyone watching this film with a critical eye will ask why a religious man can't dial a telephone because of the Sabbath but can drive a car on the Sabbath (both tasks being equally forbidden to religious Jews), and how the Sabbath has come in broad daylight on a Friday, but if you can suspend disbelief on both counts, this short film is very cute.
Day One - Henry Hughes
What a powerful story of an Afghani-American woman who has joined the armed forces to serve as an interpreter. On her first day, the unit is sent in pursuit of a bomb maker, and when they arrive at his home, they discover his pregnant wife is pregnant and giving birth, but that the baby's arm is outside of her body and the baby is possibly dead already. In this scary moment, cultural traditions must be respected, medical emergencies must be tended, and the safety of the military unit must be safeguarded. In just a short time, this film tells an incredibly tense and engaging story. (Trailer not available on youtube, you can see it on the Academy's site: http://oscar.go.com/nominees/short-film-live-action/day-one)
Everything Will Be Okay - Patrick Vollrath
(Spoilers) Everything Will Be Okay finds a desperate father scared to death that he might be losing any custody rights for his daughter taking action to kidnap her from the country. The shrewd little girl figures out what is happening, and does what she can to convince him that this is the wrong thing to do, and she uses her wits to inform her mother that there is still time to fix the situation. (Trailer not available on youtube, view it on the Academy's web site: http://oscar.go.com/nominees/short-film-live-action/everything-will-be-okay-alles-wird-gut)
Shok - Jamie Donoughue
This film is perhaps the saddest of the five nominees, in which two best friends in Kosovo are trying to live like normal children as war and hatred surrounds them. Their lives are constantly in jeopardy especially because they are of different ethnic backgrounds, making their friendship even more dangerous at this time in history. As the war drama unfolds, we choices that threaten their families and their lives.
Stutterer - Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage
We know the Academy loves comedy in the short film genre, and this film was adorable. A stutterer has been in an online relationship for six months - a safe space for him to be given his ability to talk freely, unhindered by his severe stutter. When the woman in question offers to meet in person, he must decide if he is ready to reveal the impediment, and we wonder if fear of rejection will thwart him from potentially meeting the woman of his dreams. But does she have a secret of her own?
I understand that all of these short films are available on iTunes, and they are well worth a viewing!