Ranking the 2021 Live Action Short Nominees

Many blockbuster directors got their start directing shorts and the group of nominees this year should once again prove a stepping stone for talented directors to break through.  Check out my reviews of each as well as where to see them.

Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
Nominees Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger
Currently unavailable

Sezim, a young Kyrgyz woman, dreams of studying in the capital until she gets kidnapped and forced to marry a stranger. She becomes torn between her desire for freedom and facing social stigmatization and exclusion if she escapes.

The film is wildly frustrating due to these outdated customs and superstitions. The lack of agency any woman has is mind-blowing. If this film was taking place in the 18th century, it would at least make sense, but there is so much emphasis placed on “honor” and “behaving” that it transcends reason. The film itself if exceptionally made.

Score: 4.0/5.0

The Dress
Nominees Tadeusz Lysiak and Maciej Ślesicki
Watch on Vimeo

A dwarf working as a maid at a hotel yearns for connection and to be loved. With the appearance of a kind trucker, she may finally find her opportunity to be wanted.

While not exactly heartwarming, it is very well acted, especially Anna Dziedusycka in the lead role. Despite some mixed messaging on self-acceptance, it can be explained by having our own struggles. It does resonate with a feeling of hopelessness.

Score: 3.0/5.0

The Long Goodbye
Nominees Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed
Watch on YouTube

A group of British South Asians celebrate a normal day at home when they are rounded up by a group gun-toting Englishmen.

Spectacular showcase of the full range of Riz Ahmed’s talents.  Not only showcasing his significant acting skills, but his rapping and lyrical poeticism.  Politically lush, the film concludes with a show-stopping uninterrupted fourth-wall-breaking verse from Ahmed.

Score: 4.0/5.0

On My Mind
Nominees Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson
Watch on The New Yorker

A distraught man walks into a bar for a drink. When he notices a karaoke machine, he longs to sing “You Were Always On My Mind,” but runs into a multitude of issues.

There is a major twist which explains the protagonist’s actions, but I won’t spoil it here. I will say the film is profoundly sad, but with a glimmer of unforced spirituality added on. People do odd things when they are grieving and the best the world can do is to acquiesce and let them go through it. Touching.

Score: 3.5/5.0

Please Hold
Nominees K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse
Watch on YouTube

In the near future, a young man is arrested and processed in an automated jail. Without understanding his crime and having no human interaction, he tries to make sense of his situation.

While not limited in scope, the film tackles problems with automated services, the criminal justice system, inalienable rights, and capitalism in general. Not as painfully frustrating as Ala Kachuu, but it’s close

Score: 4.0/5.0

My rankings

  1. Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
  2. The Long Goodbye
  3. Please Hold
  4. On My Mind
  5. The Dress

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