It’s Oscar Nominated Shorts Weekend!

The big opening this weekend is the return of the annual Oscar nominated shorts programs. Academy Award feature nominees can be easily seen in multiplexes. But the non-film festival going public has far fewer ways to see short films. The Oscar nominated shorts programs is both a godsend and at least a bit of cinematic quality control. So check at least one of these programs out. Caveat emptor: only San Rafael’s Smith Rafael Film Center is showing the Oscar nominated Documentary Shorts program.

The other openings this weekend are interesting if flawed. The new Jackie Chan film does re-unite him with director Stanley Tong, but it’s shamelessly uses Indian stereotypes. A new Bollywood comedy/drama about a street-smart lawyer gets a little on the overstuffed side. And a crime drama by a 16-year-old boy is promising if a bit overboard on the cinematic violence.

2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animation

This program gives viewers a chance to see all five of this year’s Oscar nominated animated short films as well as a few other shorts to round things out. Nominees include the Pixar short Piper (a hungry sandpiper hatchling must overcome a big fear before she can forage at the seashore), Pearl (a dream-pursuing girl and her dad crisscross the country in their beloved hatchback), and Pear Cider And Cigarettes (hard-drinking Techno Stypes needs a liver transplant so he can leave China and return to Vancouver, but first he has to stop drinking). Except for Pear Cider and Cigarettes, all films in the program are suitable for children of all ages.

Opens February 10 at the Clay Theatre, the Opera Plaza Cinemas, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Documentary

See all five of this year’s Oscar nominated Best Documentary Shorts in this program. Selections include: Joe’s Violin (the donation of a used violin from a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor becomes part of an amazing history linking Siberian labor camps to an immigrant’s daughter immersed in the cathartic power of music), Watani: My Homeland (Abu Ali and his wife both face the agonizing choices of staying in Syria to protect what they can from ISIS depredations or risk becoming refugees to give their children a possible future), and 4.1 Miles (an uncensored look at a Greek Coast Guard captain and his crew’s struggles to save war refugees braving the Aegean Sea to reach Greece).

Opens February 10 at the Smith Rafael Film Center

Still from Oscar nominated documentary short “Joe’s Violin”

2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action

See all five of this year’s Oscar nominated Best Live Action Short in this program. The selections include Hungary’s Sing (new student Zsofi suspects her school’s choir director may be less inspirational than others believe), Denmark’s Silent Nights (homeless shelter volunteer Inger falls in love with illegal Ghanian immigrant Kwame…until Kwame’s mobile phone reveals the truth about his life), and Switzerland’s La Femme et le TGV (Cesar Award nominee Jane Birkin plays a lonely woman who habitually waves at the train that passes twice a day by her house).

Opens February 10 at the Clay Theatre, the Opera Plaza Cinemas, and the Shattuck Cinemas

Jolly LLB 2

Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly is a struggling street-smart lawyer who dreams of owning his own chambers. The ambitious lawyer tricks a pregnant woman into letting him represent her husband in a murder case. However, when the woman commits suicide after discovering Jolly’s deception, the guilt-ridden attorney is determined to seek justice for his client.

Opens February 10 at the Century 12 San Mateo

Kung Fu Yoga

Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan is re-united with Stanley Tong, who directed Chan in Police Story 3: Supercop and Rumble In The Bronx. In this new film, archaeology professor Jack Chan (Chan) is approached by beautiful Indian professor Ashmita to locate a legendary Tang Dynasty-era treasure trove. But a team of mercenaries also seek the treasure, and nearly kill Chan’s party once they get in the way. Now an international pursuit is on, going from the Kunlun mountains to an Indian cave network in search of this legendary hoard of gold and diamonds.

Opens February 10 at the 4-Star Theatre

Stray Bullets

Teenager Jack Fessenden directs and stars in this indie crime drama. Ash and Connor (Fessenden) planned to spend a weekend in a secluded trailer owned by Ash’s father. What they didn’t expect was to be taken hostage by a trio of crooks hiding in the trailer. The crooks are themselves fleeing a maniacal hitman who’s already shot one of their number and wants to kill all of them. Soon the boys are forced to either help the crooks or die with them.

Opens February 10 at the 4-Star Theatre

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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