Directed by: Various
Current events have clearly influenced two of this year’s final five live-action shorts. But my favorites are about a choir and a pair of parking garage security guards.
New girl in town Zsófi (as Dóra Gáspárvalvi) decides to join the award-winning school choir in 1990s Budapest. Director Miss Erika (Zsófia Szamosi) says if they will win this year, they’ll get to go to Sweden. Zsófi has the usual new-kid blues but loves the choir and is adjusting nicely until she discovers the dirty little secret of Miss Erika’s success. This is my favorite of the finalists. Can you tell I’m a choir member?
Luna (Lali Ayguadé) works the day shift and Diego (Nicolas Ricchini) the night as security guards in a parking garage. To liven things up, they take a leaf from “La La Land” and dance. This is a charming, sort of goofy dance film that will make you smile. And what could be better than that?
Enemies Within (France)
Playing on the old ’50s fear of communists which has recently morphed into a fear of strangers/terrorists, “Enemies Within” offers an interview between an unnamed “demandeur” (applicant), born in Algeria (but a longtime resident of France) – who is applying for French citizenship – and “l’interrogateur” (the interrogator), who has he power to stamp the papers for him...if he gets what he wants. Except for a few shots, “Enemies Within” stays within the confines of that room, making this less a movie than a filmed, tense civics lesson, but this reviewer was properly outraged and horrified at the implications of it all.
The Woman and the TGV (Switzerland)
Reminiscent of “The Lunchbox,” this film stars Jane Birkin as a lonely bakery owner who gets her kicks by waving a Swiss flag at the bullet train that passes yards from her house each day. One day a passenger throws a note out the window, and they end up penpals. A bit of a tired idea, but Birkin convincingly portrays the loneliness and hopefulness of the baker.
Silent Nights (Denmark)
In Denmark’s “Silent Nights,” a good deed leads to a sad ending when Salvation Army volunteer Inger falls for a homeless Ghanaian refugee. Malene Beltoft Olsen’s Inger is an engaging presence. Unfortunately, the portrayal of refugee Kwame won’t do anything to eliminate the rampant prejudice against the “other.” He’s portrayed as lazy and opportunistic, not to mention unethical and a thief.