Both films are shortlisted to be nominated for the 2022 Academy Awards, with “Namoo” as a contender in the animated short film category and “When the Sun Sets” in the live-action short film category. The nominations will be formally announced on Feb. 8.
“WarnerMedia’s ‘artist studio where innovation happens,’ OneFifty has built a track record of identifying incredible artists whose vision we believe in, and acquiring their extraordinary, groundbreaking content. We are excited to continue working with these filmmakers for many years to come,” Axel Caballero, Vice President of Arts & Cultural Innovations and Head of WarnerMedia OneFifty, said in a statement announcing the acquisitions.
Leslie Cohen, senior vice president of film acquisitions for HBO/HBO Max, finalized the deals for both titles. Amanda Trokan, HBO Max director of content acquisitions, worked on the negotiations for “Namoo” and Rebecca Vazquez, HBO Max vice president of content acquisitions, worked on the negotiations for “When the Sun Sets.”
“Namoo” will debut Jan. 27 on HBO Max, with “When the Sun Sets” released on Feb. 8. The two films join WarnerMedia’s catalogue of critically acclaimed films, including the 2021 Oscar-nominated short “White Eye,” the 2022 Spirit Awards-nominee “This Is Not a War Story” and the Sundance Sloan Winner “Son of Monarchs.”
“Namoo” is a narrative poem come to life through hand-crafted animation. Writer-director Erick Oh (an Oscar nominee for 2020’s “Opera”) was inspired to craft the film after the passing of grandfather; as such, “Namoo” — which translates to “tree” in Korean — follows a man’s life from beginning to end. The film was produced by nine-time Emmy Award-winning Baobab Studios, executive produced by John Cho and produced by Larry Cutler, Eric Darnell, Maureen Fan, and Kane Lee. It most recently earned the 2022 Gold List Awards’ best animated short prize.
Oh and Fan recently discussed the personal story behind the film with Variety senior editor Terry Flores and praised the WarnerMedia OneFifty team for their passion in partnering for this project.
“It’s great validation and a great honor that they find it worthy enough and appealing enough that they think the audiences really want to see it,” Fan told Variety. “As a creative, we just want as many people to be able to see our project as possible. And we cannot think of a better partner, in terms of what they stand for — which is quality. It means a lot to get the recognition specifically from them.”
Added Oh: “HBO Max is known as one of the best platforms with introducing tons of quality. Shorts don’t really have much platform to be shared with a broader audience; it’s only usually through special screenings or film festivals. So having a short presented in this huge streamer, [it’s] such an honor.”
“When the Sun Sets” tells the story of a young, Black nurse’s struggle to protect her family during apartheid South Africa. Directed by South African filmmaker Phumi Morare, and inspired by her mother’s true story, the film is an ode to family, motherhood, and resilience, and reminds viewers of the power of love to transcend oppression. The live action short film won the 2021 HBO ABFF Short Film Competition, was a finalist at the 2021 Urbanworld Film Festival, and is also nominated for the 2022 NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding short form (live action) category.
“I am deeply honored that this story, inspired by my family, and dear to me, has found a home on HBO Max and is now part of the WarnerMedia OneFifty family. I am grateful for the opportunity that OneFifty provides to emerging filmmakers like myself,” stated Morare.
Producing partner Christine Cho added: “It’s an exciting honor to be working with HBO Max and WarnerMedia OneFifty to bring this meaningful film to their platform. We hope to continue sparking important discourse that resonates with wider audiences.”