According to the Academy’s guidelines, a short film is anything with a running time of 40 minutes or less (including credits).
The short film awards stem from the time short films were shown before feature length films at cinemas before the explosion of television and they were seen by a wider audience. Originally there were two different shorts categories, the first ‘Short subject – one reel’ and the second ‘short subject – two reel’. The categories were dependent solely on the number of reels of film used, generic factors were not taken into consideration.
But times have changed and the academy now has three categories for shorts: the short film branch administrates the animated and live-action shorts category awards whilst the documentary branch administers the documentary short subject award. Some academy members want to eliminate the shorts category in an effort reduce the overall run time of the televised Oscar ceremony. They argue that it is an outdated tradition, because we no longer see shorts before features in the cinema. It would however be a real shame for them to scrap the shorts awards. It is a category that student filmmakers can apply to, thanks to a clause in the academy’s regulations for the shorts categories. Although this year, no students took home the prize, Shorts are a crucial category for up-and-coming filmmakers as it gives them a chance to break into the industry.
The shorts that took home the awards this year:
Best Animated Short Film- Bear Story (11 mins)
Bear Story is the first Chilean film to win an Oscar and was produced by small Chilean independent production company Punkrobot Studios. It is a unique telling of the violent days in Chile under Pinochet’s control. Before Bear Story Gabriel Osorio had directed animated kids TV series Flipos but apart from that he has no major credits listed under his name. So for him to win the Oscar can really help establish himself further in the industry, proving how important the short awards can be in recognising future talent.
Best Documentary Short- A Girl in the River: the Price of Forgiveness (39 mins)
A Girl in the River follows a girl in Pakistan who survived an ‘honour killing’. It was produced by HBO and was director’s Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy second Oscar (the first she received in 2012 winning for ‘Saving Face’.)
Best Live Action Short Film- Stutterer (12 mins)
Stutterer is the first film written, directed and edited by Irish Filmmaker Benjamin Cleary. Clearly was the only Irish nominee to take home the award. It explores the world of a man with a severe speech impediment as he tries to take his online relationships into the real world.