Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Short Films & Their Current Presence at the Academy Awards

The short film category is my least favorite category at the academy awards.

I know that I am missing some history in understanding this award's importance. Walt Disney has the record for the most academy award wins with 22...most of those wins and handful of additional nominations come from short films, some of which although older I can name and you will know exactly what short film I am referring to. For example, in 1969 Walt Disney won for Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and in 1949 was nominated for Mickey and the Seal. Those are notable short films that have lasted.

Yet, in this past decade there is no Walt Disney, at least not as I see it. The first problem is there just doesn't seem like there's accessibility to watch short films. Sure some are exhibited at the festival circuit and Pixar tacks there's on before some of their movies, like the funny Oscar winning animated short For the Birds which was shown before Pixar's Monsters, Inc.

Yet, with 24 academy awards being handed out this year, the three I absolutely don't care about at this stage in the game are the awards for short films (best animated short film, best live action short film, and best documentary short film).

It's not the craft that makes me uninsterested it's the accessibility and relevance of these catagories.

This post submitted as part of discussion on the Short Film blog-a-thon at Only the Cinema.


Ed Howard said...

Thanks for contributing. I generally don't care about the Oscars at all, so maybe I'm the wrong person to ask in that regard. Short films are undeniably less visible than they once were, and it's often difficult to see new ones outside of some festival screenings or as DVD extras. Wes Anderson's recent Hotel Chevalier is one example, cut from its spot in front of Darjeeling, released only online for now. I think they continue to be a relevant and important form though, providing a different format for expression within the cinema, with different aesthetic requirements and opportunities. Hopefully some of the posts in this blog-a-thon have pointed out the form's continuing relevance. Whether or not the commercial markets recognize the form, it's still out there, and the fact that artists keep making shorts in the face of total commercial disinterest speaks to the fact that they serve a real artistic purpose. And DVD provides a good venue for these films to be seen, like the great Cinema 16 collections, which have some real gems on them, including recent ones. Nobody should miss Roy Andersson's World of Glory, from the European Shorts installment of that series.

Also worth noting, if you look at this blog-a-thon so far, how many people chose to write about music videos -- which indicates that even if "proper" short films are commercially invisible, the form continues to survive in the marketplace via music videos.

Anonymous said...

See, once upon a time if you went to the movies it was an experience. It wasn't just a movie. You got all sorts of things. Given that that's no longer the case and the short films is gone from the movie house in general I say it should go. So in short I agree.

Oh and Tag

Marilyn said...

Me, too, as much as it pains me to say so. Short films are for film students these days, not the consumer.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you're saying that you don't like short films or that you don't like how the Academy deals with short films, or some combination of the two.

Short films are widely available to consumers -- more than ever before probably. So while they aren't stuck in front on movies, they're easy to get from Netflix, Amazon, or Best Buy.

And to the commenter who said that short films are for film students these days: You're inundated with short films every day, from commercials to music videos. They aren't nominated for Oscars, but they are short films.

Will said...

My main problem with the short films is distribution. I've ended up seeing several of the nominees from the past decade, but only because I stumbled across them while watching one of the director's other films, or something similar.
As ed mentioned, Wes Anderson's is quite interesting. And I don't know if you were aware of the strong Pixar presence in the animated short category before they released their first feature-length.
They just need a great way to release short films - preferably online. That way they're on our radar even BEFORE they get nominated.

Glenn Dunks said...

It would help if the people who made the short films went on to make bigger projects, but generally they don't. The Pixar and Aardman studios have, and Adam Elliot who won for Harvey Krumpet is currently making a feature-length film, but the live action short category? Nobody ever seems to go on to bigger things. You tend to not hear from them ever again, actually.