“Oscar Shorts” provide rewarding experience

Published 12:24 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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This week at the Tryon Theatre we have arguably the most unique programming of our year, the “Oscar Shorts.” These shorts are the Oscar-nominated short films for the 2024 awards year, and are broken into three distinct categories of nomination: best animated short, best live action short and best documentary short. 

Annually, we secure the films submitted in these categories as respective cinematic blocks, playing each of the three categories twice across our six weekly showtimes. The animated shorts will play Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 7 p.m.. The live action shorts will play Thursday at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. The documentary shorts will play Thursday at 7 p.m. and Sunday 2:30 p.m.

For many filmgoers, including a number of our regular audience, viewing all the Oscar-nominated films prior to the awards is a goal, a completionist approach to the contest at hand. However, the short films usually prove themselves significantly more elusive than the features when one attempts to track them all down. Due to international release rights, and the lack of studio system distribution, many of the short films would be impossible for us to show on their own. This yearly package of the combined shorts is an invaluable opportunity to see them for those interested. 

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On the subject of interest, it is very important to appreciate both the origin of the respective shorts, and the relative expectations one can have based on the patterns of subject and style throughout the years. I do not have the space to go into each nominated short individually here, but there is much to be said on the broader concept. 

Short films, by nature of their reduced length, heavily reduce the necessary budget to bring them to fruition. This is not to diminish the merit of their artistry, but to appreciate the constraints of production that influence the artistic choices of each film. By short films standing independent of studio production, they overwhelmingly present more specific or more challenging stories than those predominantly portrayed in features. The implicit audience of a short film is smaller, and the necessity of broader appeal is reduced. 

The “Oscar Shorts” can admittedly be a difficult experience in terms of subject matter, but the audience will be rewarded with artistic passion. All this is said to hopefully prepare, but also entice, viewers for their potential cinematic experience. 

An important addendum to the preface of difficult content contained in the “Oscar Shorts” is that these categories, like much of the Oscar-selected films, are created for an adult audience only. This clarification of the intended audience is especially imperative with the animated shorts, which despite the artistic format, are not appropriate for children. Lastly, with many of these films hailing from different national origins, any foreign language entries are shown with subtitles. 

We hope our audience will take a chance on these smaller artistic voices of the “Oscar Shorts” and enjoy these nominated films with us!