Watching the Oscar Shorts gave us the feeling that we were standing at the top of the world. Even the trailer clips had the feeling of that rich Hollywood old school, straight up polished class. The shorts have some humph. Offering a variety of emotional platforms to draw from, an audience could very well get lost in their diverse selection. It is going to be a tight race.
Can you imagine living until 109 years of age? I am told that the human body is capable of living at least to 120 years of age. If that be the case, then Alice Herz-Sommer, lovingly known as, “The Lady in Number 6”only has 10 more to go. Born in 1913, with the energy of a young girl in love and a heart as big as gold, this famous oldest living pianist and oldest survivor of the Holocaust must certainly hold the key to the fountain of youth. Her simple elegant smile and honesty on how to live a long life, is certainly one to be cherished. “The Lady in Number 6” exposes the very depths of human atrocities during World War II. In a small North London apartment, Alice shares her threads of wisdom with Directors, Malcolm Clarke, and Nicholas Reed. Canada/USA/UK.
Alice lives alone and is in good health and high spirits. She plays the piano each day at 10:00AM. Each morning, people from the city line up on the sidewalk at that time to hear her play Beethoven, Bach. Brahms, Shubert, Shuman and Chopin. Alice’s two friends, who were pianist, actresses and cellist, come by every Sunday to talk and remember the good but not so good stories from the war and their stay at “Theresienstadt” a World War II, German feeder camp also known as the “Theresienstadt Ghetto”and the Auschwitz ( gas chambers). At Theresienstadt located in Terazin near Prague, Alice played over 100 concerts performing all of Chopin’s, “Etudes” by memory. As friend Anita says, “it is not just that we entertained the audience when we were on stage, we entertained as a way to support each other and to survive” Alice says “music gave me hope. It is sort of like a religion. I knew in her mind that when she played, no matter how difficult the situation, she felt happy and things were not so terrible. The music is beautiful, it cries. Just thinking of music makes me happy” Alice-Herz Sommer is more than a survivor; she is a kick ass diva. Alice quoted one of a famous philosopher who said that, “music is the birthplace of art. It brings us onto an island of peace, beauty, and love. Music is a dream.” Sommer’s son Rafi whom arrived with his mom at “Theresionstadt” when she was 39, benefited from his mom’s level head and cool spool of optimism. The prisoners were responsible for taking your clothes off, shaving your head and branding a tattoo on your arm. The Nazi’s for propaganda purposes used Jewish celebrities and intellectuals. The Jews although starving prisoners, were allowed to compose and give concerts. Rafi began to sing for the prisons children’s opera, “Brundebar.” In this way, Rafi would learn how to survive. As Alice’s friends said, the Germans knew that we were destined to die and so they let us laugh, sing and dance. We danced under the gallows. The Germans would say ”let them laugh, let them sing, soon the laughter will vanish from their face”. As Alice-Herz-Sommer puts it, “ Even in difficult situations we would always remain calm, confident and hopeful while me and my friends, transformed even the sick who came to concerts, into younger people.
In this remarkable state of maturity, Alice Herz-Sommer put it best when she said, “Music is a mystery. When the first tone of music starts it goes straight to our soul. I love to play, and thanks to Shuman, Shubert, Brahms, Chopin and Bach, for this great beauty that they gave us. Only when we grow old, are we aware of the beauty of life” A documentary that is a strong contender for the Oscar shorts race.
For further information on Oscar short, “The Lady in Number 106”please reference www.nickreedent.com.
Directed by Laurent Witz, and Alexandre Espigares, Mr. Hublot is an animated short. It starts with a typical rational, work from home nerd geek, Hublot who is made of nuts, bolts, goggled eyes and a digital clock for a forehead. A lovable character with an edgy head of content likes to live alone. When the animated world of Hublot is disturbed by a barking robotic bolted and bound by nuts and screws, dog who lives in a box across the street an interesting series of circumstances begin to happen as Hublot and the dog are pushed to interact. Hublot’s world is made of imaginative tools for city bound geeks. In this case, Mr. Hublot lives a quiet life, sort of like an accountant. He is a keen intellectual who has no time for relations, only work and no play. He spends a lot of time being in a state of busy ness, with little room to breathe or relax. Then there is the barking dog. One day Hublot is having his usual coffee, cream, and sugar, hanging out with self, in his striped pajamas and he hears a barking puppy. Shutting the bark out by closing the windows, the eccentric Hublot, notices that the building across the street is up for rent. Soon to be another mall like construction, Hublot peers from the window just as the bark gets louder. There in the rain, the lonely stray puppy cries, moans, and shivers all the while Hublot sits in his comfy bachelor apartment. The barking becomes too much to bear for Hublot and he decides to alter the pups fate by trying to help in escape being killed by the dog catcher cut up puppy blades. Thinking the puppy dead, Hublot slinks back into his own world, void of spirit, joy and emotional satisfaction. The puppy starts to bark and the two find each other. A heart clincher and lots of fun to watch, Hublot cannot bear to part with the pup even though he has grown from a pup to a dog. Eventually the two find common ground and move into the apartment across the street that was up for rent. Life is a better place for Hublot and his new companion who has found a permanent place to stay.OSCAR SHORTS 2014
For more information on HUBLOT please see,www.mhublot.com Luxembourg/France/non-dialogue.
Helium should be a a part of the rest in peace package bound by the mortuary when we are done and ready to leave this world. A young dying boy after being given a diagnosis of an incurable condition, talks about his mental list of likes and don’t likes when dealing with going over to the other side. Directors Anders Walker and Kim Magnusson of Denmark set the audience up for an unusual journey to a place that we all plan not to go any sooner than we have to. The boy’s parents and doctors agree that Alfred, his name, is on his way to heaven. Alfred begins to talk to a hospital staff member about how boring heaven must be, and that there has to be other places for him to go to spend an eternity. The screen lights up with delightful images of a fanciful world soon to become reality, as the boy’s life force grows weaker and weaker. The fun lies in watching all of the imaginative and creative types of stories that the staff worker dreams up because he has grown close to the dying boy and wants to see him have a happier and healthier transition.
For more information on Helium please reference: Oscar.go.com/nominees/short-film-live/Helium.
All Oscar shorts nominees can be viewed on YOU TUBE.