Childhood is a Major Theme in 2019 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films

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CHICAGO – There are four films among the five Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts for 2019 that have childhood in their theme, and they all are telling about situations in the more in-your-face dark circumstances of life today (or in the case of one film, 25 years ago). The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

The only film that has a bit of light in it is “Marguerite’ (Canada) which deals with a relationship between a caregiver and her elder woman patient, who reveals a secret. The other four films – “Detainment” (Ireland/Britain), “Fauve” (Canada), “Madre” (Spain) and “Skin” (USA) – all have children as major characters in our world where too much is happening, both to them and the adults around them. In the needle-in-the-haystack of short films that compete for awards from all around the world, it is somewhat shocking that 80% spotlight childhood trauma.

’Skin,’ Directed by Guy Nattiv
Photo credit: Shorts TV

“Detainment” is a based-on-history story on two Liverpudlian English boys prosecuted as the youngest murderers of the 20th Century. “Fauve” is two boys trying to outdo each other, until one goes too far. “Madre” is a tense drama, talking place in one apartment, as a mother tries to locate her lost son via mobile phone. And “Skin,” the lone U.S. entry, is an exposure of race relationships that are ongoing, and in this story has tragic consequences.

“Skin” is the most present, given the element of the divided U.S., and the scapegoats that are manufactured because of it. It has great casting and a cinematic style that is unexpected when telling such a story. “Detainment” is a police procedural that devolves into a horrid account of the true-life killing, where events are revealed in association that become more and more sordid. The pace of the film quickens as it goes along, until the truths are exposed. “Fauve” is the most detached of the kids-in-crisis films, the landscape the filmmaker chooses could be another planet.

“Marguerite” is a sweet film, as the caregiver can’t help but love the old woman she is responsible for, whose vital signs and life force are fading. Their connection spurs memories in the woman, and through a series of old photographs she is young and revived again. It’s about regrets in life in a sense, and how we as human sufferers put up barriers to our own happiness, and then get bamboozled by the biology of aging, limited mobility and death.

’Marguerite,’ Directed by Marianne Farley
Photo credit: Shorts TV

Take the opportunity to see these shorts if they’re available in your area (especially Chicagoans), or watch them once they become available for digital download (February 19th, click link below). It will make your Oscar viewing that much more informative, and provide reflective insight to the ongoing human condition.

The 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts – Live Action are currently playing in Chicago at Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 North Clark Street. See local listings for other show times and theaters. Available through Video-on-Demand February 19th, 2019. Featuring the short films “Detainment” (directed by Vincent Lambe, “Fauve” (Jeremy Comte), “Marguerite” (Marianne Farley), “Madre” (Rodrigo Sorogoyen) and “Skin” (Guy Nattiv) Not Rated. Click here for more information. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

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© 2019 Patrick McDonald,

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