Directed by Yan England
I hate to start with hate but HENRY is the kind of short film that I dread. At only 20 minutes running time, I lost interest just a few minutes in and although the end is never far, it felt as though it were never actually coming. An older gentleman (Gerard Poirier), once a famous concert pianist, realizes that he is losing his memories and his mind, that what he thinks is the life he is living has not been for some time. Director, Yan England, tries to bring us into Henry's deteriorating mind by confusing time and place but ultimately, the film's lack of originality takes the steam out of any resonance it could have had.
Directed by Bryan Buckley
Given that all the actors in Bryan Buckley's film, ASAD, are actually Somalian refugees, I would say that he's got this award all sewn up for that reason alone. That being said, he did create a great film and it would truly be a deserved win. We've seen this story before; a young boy wants to grow up too quickly and get into trouble with the older boys, but ends up staying behind to help out at home. The coming of age theme may not be original but when it is set in the violent and demanding world of a war-torn Somalia, the simpler concept takes on a whole new and more powerful meaning.
DEATH OF A SHADOW
Directed by Tom Van Avermaet
What a complex and haunting piece this short film is. A WWI soldier dies and is given a new lease on life, more or less, by a bizarre collector of souls. This soldier, played by Matthias Schoenarts, who starred opposite Marion Cotillard in RUST AND BONE, is tasked with capturing the shadows of the dead by taking a picture at the exact moment of their death. After so many shadows, he can have his life back. Of course, it isn't anywhere near as simple as that and director, Tom Van Avermaet, has crafted an ambitious film that is not only nuanced and complex but also a great technical achievement as well. You may find yourself scratching your head at first but by the end, you will know a little more about life itself.
Directed by Shawn Christensen
Don't you hate it when you're in the middle of killing yourself and your sister calls you asking you to look after her kid? This is the lead in to Shawn Christensen's CURFEW. Being the good brother that he is, or rather being the brother who never thought he was good enough for anyone, he agrees and this leads to an evening of bowling and bonding. Christensen gives himself too much to work with at first, including his somewhat strained Ryan Gosling-esque lead performance, but he manages to find an emotional centre just before the clock strikes midnight. It has its moments but when you're only 20 minutes long, the entire film should be a moment.
Directed by Sam French
Shot on location in Kabul, Afghanistan, BUZKASHI BOYS is a compelling coming of age story set against the backdrop of a country still struggling to rid itself of war. Two friends appear to be heading down very different paths when one chooses to chase after his dream while the other, Rafi, is being forced to follow in his father's footsteps, as a blacksmith. After an accident tears them apart, Rafi is left to figure out his own path all by himself. The true beauty of this complex and layered work is that it shows us that such things as ambition and tradition continue to soldier on past the devastation.