Sedona International Film Festival brings Oscar Shorts to Flagstaff

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With films such as Lincoln, Les Misérables and many others receiving the Oscar buzz, Flagstaff got a chance to experience lesser-known films that will also be honored on Oscar night.

Students and residents of Flagstaff gather to view the Live Action Oscar Shorts on Feb. 13 at Harkins.  (Photo by Holly Mandarich)

Students and residents of Flagstaff gather to view the Live Action Oscar Shorts on Feb. 13 at Harkins. (Photo by Holly Mandarich)

In a presentation from the Sedona International Film Festival (SIFF), the five live-action short films that are nominated for Academy Awards were screened at Harkins Theatres on Feb. 13. The short films — Death of a Shadow, Henry, Curfew, Buzkashi Boys and Asad — were screened as a part of the festival’s monthly Flagstaff Cinema Series.

According to the executive director of the SIFF, Patrick Schweiss, the short films are often forgotten by many watching the Oscars.

“Normally, this is a category that people kind of scratch their heads [over] or get up and go to the bathroom during the Oscars because they’ve never heard [of] or seen these films — and now you will have been able to have seen them,” Schweiss said.

This was the first time Oscar-nominated films were screened prior to the Academy Awards as a part of this series. The screening was able to happen because of the positive relationship between the festival directors and Magnolia Films, who distributed the films in this fashion.

Some in the audience, like Melissa Smith, a senior electronic media and film major, appreciated the dramatic nature of the films.

“I loved all five of them; they were really good this year. I always like dramas. I think that’s why I was pleasantly surprised that these were all very dramatic and serious films. I like things that give you the feels and all of these did that for me,” Smith said.

All five films were strong in their own right. Some took the audience into different cultures, like the South African film Asad. This film documents the experience of living in the villages of Somalia through one small child who is training as a fisherman but yearns to be a pirate until he comes across a yacht that his friends had attacked and after investigating, he finds that no one onboard survived except a cat wearing a sailor costume. The young fisherman brings the cat home with him.

Others challenged our views on death. The first film, Death of a Shadow, follows the story of a ghost who collects silhouettes of the dead as their death is reenacted. He does this to earn the chance to return to life to be with the woman he loved the most, until he finds she fell in love with another man shortly after he had died.

Matt Goodwin, philosophy professor at NAU, led a discussion following the last of the five films and discussed deeper meanings within them. They began the discussing of films in this series because cinema can provoke thought and merit in a philosophical discussion.

“They were great; I love short films and they really provoke a lot of deep thought, because so many people feel that the movie ends and they all kind of part ways and they all have to kind of think about it on their own with whoever they came here with. This way, we get people to stick around afterward and then they are able to get some of the ideas out together,” Goodwin said.

The Academy Awards are set to take place on Feb. 24 starting at 6:30 Mountain Standard Time on ABC.




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