I could have done without the film "Henry" (Canada, 21 minutes). It´s about an old man losing his memory and confusing past and presence. It seems that the makers tried to exploit the troubles of old age to gain their audience with a melancholic movie. Nice try, but I guess this Alzheimer story will soon be forgotten.
The rest was better. "Asad" (South Africa/USA, 18 minutes) tells the story of a boy in Somalia, a country corroded by war. The kid, who lives in a very poor environment, tries to become a fisherman and has to deal with manic and marauding Somali soldiers and with neighbors who try to make a living by capturing ships (the infamous Somali pirates). It´s a weird tropical story, but somewhat funny & entertaining.
"Bukashy Boys" (Afganistan/USA, 28 minutes) focuses on 2 boys in Afghanistan. One of them is living on the streets, the other, who has to assist his father, a black-smith, is not much better off. Both are dreaming to become famous "Buzkashi riders". Those are men who play a kind of rough horse polo with a dead goat. The camera showed the poverty, but also delivered awesome shots from the landscape around Afghanistan`s capital Kabul. The snow covered mountains could be worth for a visit when the war is over, when ever that will be.
I favor 2 films of the collection. One is "Death of a Shadow" (Belgium/France 20 minutes). This is a fantasy film about a man who exists after his dead in a kind of shadow world. On the behalf of a collector, who seems to rule this world, he has to take pictures of people in the moment of their deaths which conserve those events to be stored in the collection for eternity. The shadow world is equipped with strange mechanism which allow their users to decide about time and kind of death (for instance old age or murder). "Death of a Shadow" is mysterious and has a nostalgic charm.
My personal Oscar candidate is "Curfew" (USA, 19 minutes). It is a very modern & hip flick with humor and emotions, which is shot in New York (imdb). Writer & director Shaw Christensen tells us the story of a man who has been coaxed to spend a day babysitting his nine-year old niece. Both, the unwilling babysitter and the child`s mother, are emotionally challenged and somewhat run-down, but the child, doesn`t care. The girl is a whiz kid, which reminds me a bit to Louis Malle`s film "Zazie in the Metro" (Zazie dans le métro )wikipedia, and makes the best out of it.
The superb cinematographer (Daniel Katze) delivers cool pictures and the congenial soundtrack amplifies the pleasure. I guess we will see the name Shaw Christensen more often on the screens of the cinema theaters, however the Oscar committee will decide on Sunday.