How To Watch The 2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films Online
There is a lot I don’t like about the Oscars. A Lot. But one thing that I do appreciate is how they shine a light on some of the incredible short films that have been made in the last year.
I find it sad that short films don’t get more attention, I wish we could go back to the times when they would show a short film before a feature length presentation at the cinema, or maybe we need a TV channel just dedicated to short films. Actually I’ve just googled it and there is one! Shorts TV … looks like it’s rather limited geographically at the moment, but you can check it out and see if you’re one of the lucky ones who is able to access it.
Anyway, to be considered a ‘short’, a film must be less than 50 minutes long (although the Oscars say 40 minutes), but don’t let that timing fool you, most of the short films I’ve seen have extremely high production values and pack as much of a punch as a feature length film.
There are fifteen short films nominated across three categories at the Oscars this year and I thought it would be helpful to list them, with my thoughts and how you can watch them. I saw many of these at a cinema screening, but they’re mostly available to watch online and many are free, which is wonderful. Each film (except two) can either be watched right here, or has a link to where you can watch it online. If cinemas are open where you are, some independent theatres are showing all of the films.
A Concerto Is A Conversation
What a beautiful film, a conversation between Grandfather and Grandson, sharing the stories of the past, dealing with racism and segregation and hope for the future. Subtle and touching, with excellent cinematography.
USA, 13 minutes. Watch A Concerto Is A Conversation, free of charge, on YouTube.
A Love Song For Latasha
Who was Latasha Harlins? Latasha’s friends and family look back at the life of a caring and loved teenage girl who dreamed of setting up youth programmes so that she could give back to her community. This film is beautiful and the injustice over her death is absolutely heartbreaking. USA, 19 minutes. Watch A Love Song For Latasha, on Netflix.
An emotional film about Colette Marin-Catherine, whose brother Jean-Pierre was imprisoned and died at concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora in Germany during World War II. Now 90 years old Colette is still coming to terms with her brother’s death and the impact it had on her family who were all in the Resistance.
France, Germany, USA, 25 minutes. Watch Colette, free of charge on YouTube.
Do Not Split
A fly on the wall look at the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019. Filmed in the thick of the action, it’s an intense film that shows what it was actually like for the protestors.
USA, Norway, 20 minutes. Watch Do Not Split, free of charge on Vimeo.
Hunger Ward (My Favourite in this category)
Airstrikes and blockades are stopping aid from getting through to the people of Yemen, who have been trapped in a civil war since 2014. Hunger Ward is an unflinching look at the children dying of malnutrition there and it is harrowing.
USA, 40 minutes. Watch Hunger Ward, free of charge on Pluto TV
Don’t be deceived by the fact that these are animated, these aren’t your Saturday morning cartoons.
A heartwarming film about the danger of comparison and the power of community. I felt kind of personally attacked watching this — in the best possible way, I think I am probably that rabbit, wanting to get away from everyone and causing all sorts of trouble!
USA, 6 minutes. Burrow is available to watch on Disney +
Definitely the ‘artiest’ of the bunch, it was really interesting watching this in the cinema and hearing everyone whispering to each other when it was finished, trying to figure out what it was about. I loved the visuals, but it feels a little separate from the other films in this category.
France, 16 minutes.
Unfortunately Genius Loci is not currently available to watch online.
If Anything Happens I Love You (My joint favourite in this category)
I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed watching this. Absolutely beautiful storytelling about a couple dealing with grief after a school shooting. The message isn’t subtle but given how many mass shootings are happening in the USA right now, it shouldn’t be. The audience needs to have its collective heart ripped out and this film does that.
USA, 13 minutes. Watch If Anything Happens I Love You on Netflix.
Opera (My joint favourite in this category)
Wow, just wow. I want to put Opera in a digital frame and hang it on my wall so that I can watch it over and over again. This is more of an animated painting that shows us the possible inner-workings of the universe, creating a machine out of the entirety of existence, at least, I think that’s what it’s about.
South Korea, 9 minutes. Unfortunately Opera is not currently available to watch online.
Such a lovely film about the mishmash of people you’ll find living in an apartment block and the hilarious monotony of life. I also want to take this opportunity to apologise to my Mother for the many, many hours I spent practising the recorder when I was a kid.
Iceland, 9 minutes Watch Yes-People, free of charge on YouTube
Live Action Shorts
Feeling Through (my favourite in this category)
What an incredible film, it challenged stereotypes, addressed poverty, made me cry and gave me an insight into the world of a person who is both deaf and blind. That’s quite a lot of ground to cover in less than 20 minutes, I absolutely loved it.
USA, 19 minutes. Watch Feeling Through, free of charge on YouTube.
The Letter Room
Is it possible for a film to be both heartwarming and bleak at the same time? At a US prison all incoming and outgoing mail is scanned and kept on file. We watch a corrections officer as he takes on this role and learns about some of the inmates in his care.
USA, 33 minutes. The Letter Room is available to buy via Vimeo
Watch THE LETTER ROOM by Elvira Lind (Best Live Action Short Film Oscar Nominee 2021) Online |…
Best Live Action Short Film Oscar Nominee 2021, Selected at Tribeca Film Festival 2020 and Palm Springs Shortfest 2020…
It sounds simple, take your daughter out for a trip to the shops to pick up your wife’s wedding anniversary gift. Except this family live in the West Bank and actually there is nothing simple about it. Another excellent insight into a part of the world that I don’t know enough about.
Palenstine, 25 minutes. Watch The Present on Netflix
Two Distant Strangers
Living the same day over and over again, but unlike Groundhog Day you don’t get to snuggle into bed each night, instead you’re murdered by a racist police officer. It’s quite a complicated narrative and it was difficult to watch our protagonist dying over and over again, especially as some of the methods used to kill him are all too familiar at the moment, which I’m guessing is the point, but it doesn’t make it easy to watch. I actually think that this would have worked better as a feature length film, so that we could really learn about the characters.
USA, 25 minutes. Watch Two Distant Strangers on Netflix.
The accidental consequences of reporting your bike stolen. I enjoyed this film, but I’m not sure what the message was here, other than don’t report your stolen property to the officials, but that doesn’t feel quite right. Perhaps it’s something about the ridiculous way that society is set up. Still a good film, but it left me a little confused. Perhaps could have done with another ten minutes to properly explain what it’s trying to say.
Israel, 21 minutes. Watch White Eye, free of charge on Vimeo.
I hope that helps with your short film watching. When Genius Loci and Opera become available I’ll add links so you can watch . If you’re looking for interesting films to watch, I have an entire instagram account full of recommendations, come and say Hi.