Do you watch the Academy Awards when they present the Best “Live Action” Short Film or Best Short Animation Oscars and say to yourself, “where are these films, and why haven’t I seen any of them?” Well, now you can, when some of the best award-winning short films are screened at the the NY Short Film Concert, playing at Molloy College’s Madison Theatre, on Friday, March. 1.
This showcase of little gems, presented by Asbury Shorts New York, gives film buffs the opportunity to see these hard-to-find shorts in a real theater format on a big screen.
“What makes this evening so unique and special is that the audience can see some great films that don’t get a lot of exposure,” said the Madison Theatre’s artistic director Angelo Fraboni. “These are the sorts of films that are usually played on HBO or Showtime in between other films. Here they stand out on their own. And our theater is perfect for this, with a great screen, comfortable seating and outstanding acoustics that make it ideal for viewing film.”
The show covers all genres: animation, comedy, drama, and documentary. “I’m very excited to be bringing it back for a second year,” Fraboni said. “These are beautiful films, including some from years past that almost no one has seen. The ‘concert’ is built like a play and reaches all your emotions – these films make you cry, laugh and touch your heart. It’s an emotional journey from beginning to end.”
The film exhibition had its start in 1980 (on Asbury Avenue in Westbury), created by Doug LeClaire, who was then a recent graduate of New York Institute of Technology, as a showcase of student-produced shorts from colleges around the area. “It became an annual thing and much anticipated,” LeClaire said. “In 1987 we took it to New York City and it became what it is today. We are proud to say that we are New York City’s longest running short film exhibition. Our show is like a trip to the best film festivals in the world where you sample the elite of the short film genre but without competition.”
LeClaire, a commercial producer for over two decades, is passionate about short films, and now devotes much of his time to his film shows. With 25 scheduled across the country, “it keeps us pretty busy,” he said.
Academy Award-nominated Director Jason Reitman (“JUNO,” “Up in the Air,” “Thank You for Smoking”) has called this “the best short film show I’ve ever seen.” Screening classic shorts from past years, combined with new international festival winners, ASNY present these highly entertaining films to the general public in a real theater setting.
And yes, it’s a “concert” and not a film festival, according to LeClaire. “We don’t like to be labeled as a festival, this is not a competitive event. It’s a mix of old hits and new hits, past festival winners combined with current winners and nominated shorts that are entertaining for a theatrical audience.”
All films are 20 minutes or less. “By the time you think it’s getting long, it’s over,” Fraboni said. Live music “to set the mood” and guest host Donna Drake enhance the experience. The evening opens with a 25 minute performance of jazz standards and blue by vocalist Ellen Kay with the band Moscow 57. And then it’s time to sit back and see some films.
“Short films are really the orphan child of the film world,” LeClaire said. “These filmmakers are so creative with very little time to tell a full story. They are going to put on the screen an intelligent and enjoyable story, it’s just like a short story you would read in a book. When they pull it off, it’s
The program features nine selections that have won honors from such festivals as Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Shorts Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival, South by Southwest, and, of course, Academy Award-nominated titles.
Among them is this year’s Oscar nominee, “ASAD,” from renowned television commercial director Bryan Buckley. Buckley has been called the “king of the Super Bowl commercials, having directed over 50. This outstanding short has won Best Narrative Short Film at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival as well as the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Best Narrative Short Film at the New Orleans Film Festival, among other international film festival honors. ASAD is a coming of age story concerning a young Somali boy living precariously day-to-day in his war torn country. “It is charming and smart, really a wonderful story,” said LeClaire.
Another selection, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” from directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, was the 2012 Academy Award Winner for Best Animated Short. This amazing story of a magical library of flying books was completed mixing computer animation, miniatures and traditional hand drawn animation.
“Time Freak,” the 2012 Oscar nominee for Best Live Action Short Film, from director Andrew Bowler and producer Gigi Causey, is also popular with audiences. The story behind the making of the film is as much fun as that of the short itself. The newly married Bowler and Causey used their $25,000 nest egg to complete the production of “Time Freak.” Their film was initially rejected by Sundance and other major festivals but received the Oscar nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a total surprise.
“West Bank Story,” one of Fraboni’s favorites, is the 2007 Oscar winner for Best Live Action Short Film. Director Ari Sandel’s musical story of forbidden love – and two competing falafel stands in the Mid East – is a hilarious and ambitious spoof of “West Side Story.”
Also garnering acclaim is the award-winning comedy, “Death, Taxes and Apple Juice” from Los Angeles filmmaker Tamar Halpern. A little girl ponders the meaning of life as her friend helps file her taxes in this eight-minute film.
LeClaire also touts “CatCam,” one of the few documentaries screened in his program. This award-winning documentary follows the adventures of a cat that lives on the property of an engineer in South Carolina. He creates a tiny camera to fit around the neck of the cat, Mr. Lee, to discover why the cat disappears for days on end. The results of Mr. Lee’s mysterious travels and encounters have become an Internet
“All in all, it’s a fast-paced, fun night,” LeClaire said. “Our mission is to keep these great shorts in theaters. Come out and see what they are all about.”
Second Annual New York Short Film Concert
Friday, March 1, 7:30 p.m. $10.
Madison Theatre at Molloy College, Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre.
(516) 678-5000 ext. 7715 or www.madisontheatreny.org.