Long Reach of Oscar Shorts Nominees

The 90th Oscars’ live action shorts category is truly international, with nominees presenting stories from Africa, North America, Australia and the U.K. A record 165 films originally qualified in the category that includes two gold medal Student Academy Award winners.

DeKalb Elementary

UCLA Master of Fine Arts’ film directing grad Reed Van Dyk’s “DeKalb Elementary” won the top prize at the Clermont-Ferrand Intl. Short Film Festival, qualifying his drama for Oscar contention. Based on a true story, the film tensely recounts events recorded during a 911 call; the searing 12 minutes tells the story of what transpired between an Atlanta school’s receptionist and a gunman intent on harm. Although the film was shot in Burbank, Calif., Van Dyk contends it accurately portrays the infamous incident. He credits his leads, Tarra Riggs and Bo Mitchell, for their extraordinary work.

The Eleven O’Clock
Sydney-based director Derin Seale, who works with commercial production firm Finch, says he and writer-producer Josh Lawson took an unusual approach to their comedic short “The Eleven O’Clock.” “We wanted to engage the audience as much as we could, to not just watch the film, but become involved in it,” he says. Without giving too much away, he explains that the comedy — set during a psychiatric appointment — is about a perception change. “It’s a puzzle and Rubik’s Cube and totally airtight,” he says of the narrative.

My Nephew Emmett
NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Kevin Wilson Jr. won a gold medal Student Academy Award for his short “My Nephew Emmett.” Spike Lee, a professor and Tisch’s artistic director, is one his mentors. Wilson credits Lee with aiding him in adhering to his vision in capturing the story of Chicago teenager Emmett Till, who journeyed to Mississippi to visit relatives. Till’s brutal murder and its aftermath raised awareness and sparked another phase in the American Civil Rights movement. The film was shot on location, a mile from where Till’s abduction took place. “We felt the spirits of those involved in the case,” Wilson says. “I did feel a responsibility to do it the right way and honor the folks who were involved.”

The Silent Child
London-based director Chris Overton began his career as an actor at age 8. And although he’s been making videos and films for decades, “The Silent Child” is his first “proper film.” He was immediately entranced with writer and producer Rachel Shenton’s story of a profoundly deaf child, who is given the gift of communication by a social worker. “We really want to get this strong and important message out there,” says Overton. The short world-premiered at the Rhode Island Film Festival and won the top prize along with the film’s star and centerpiece Maisie Sly, who won the actress trophy.

Watu Wote/All of Us
The festival run of “Watu Wote/All of Us,” from Hamburg Media School’s Tobias Rosen and Katja Benrath, has taken the short to 100 festivals, where it has won 60 awards. The short also garnered a gold medal at the Student Academy Awards.
Shot in Kenya, and based on real events, the film’s theme is empathy, as a terrorist attack unfolds. “It’s really important to recognize that everybody is a human being and not categories like race or religion,” said the filmmaker when reached in Nairobi, where she journeyed to share the Academy Award announcement with her local team.

More Film

  • Javier Bardem Dune

    Javier Bardem in Talks to Play King Triton in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Javier Bardem is in talks to play King Triton in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. Harry Styles is also in early talks to play Prince Eric. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • UglyDolls

    STX Tries to Put Flops Behind It As It Searches For Star Executive, Fresh Capital

    After a series of film flops and an aborted initial public offering, STX Entertainment is battling mounting skepticism that it can survive in an increasingly unforgiving movie business. As it hustles to find $500 million in fresh capital, the company, which operates in the red according to financial disclosures, is simultaneously hoping to attract a [...]

  • Ryan Simpkins

    Ryan Simpkins Joins Fox-Disney's 'Fear Street' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Simpkins has joined Fox-Disney’s second installment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Fear Street” trilogy, based on the novels by R.L. Stine. Leigh Janiak is helming all three films. Previously announced cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia [...]

  • MPAA Logo

    Motion Picture Association of America Hires Emily Lenzner as Communications Chief

    The Motion Picture Association of America has appointed veteran public relations executive Emily Lenzner as its executive VP of global communications and public affairs. She will report to Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin and oversee the trade group’s communications team in the U.S. and internationally. Lenzner will start Aug. 1 and be based at the MPAA’s [...]

  • 'Cats' Teaser Trailer: See Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift Unveils Feline Moves in 'Cats' Behind-the-Scenes Teaser

    Taylor Swift fans finally get to see some of the results of all those years spent studying her roommates Meredith and Olivia — and also, not incidentally, some time with a choreographer — in a new behind-the-scenes teaser for the movie “Cats.” The three-and-a-half-minute featurette has footage of Swift striking crouching feline moves as well [...]

  • CGR’s Immersive Premium Format Set for

    Immersive Theater Technology Set for US Debut in Los Angeles

    French multiplex company CGR Cinemas has selected the Regal LA Live as the first U.S. theater to use its Immersive Cinema Experience technology. The ICE format will be unveiled in the fall at the downtown location in a partnership between CGR and AEG. The companies made the announcement Wednesday but did not reveal which title [...]

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content