Helium / Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
A lovely little story about a sick young boy in hospital, and a story-telling janitor. Helium is the place the janitor makes up when the boy complains that heaven (where folks are telling him he will be going to) sounds boring. Charming, in every way, really creative in both concept and the fictional land of Helium. My vote for the Oscar because I am a sucker for sick kids and a little magic. Also, pass the tissues.
The Voorman Problem / Mark Gill and Baldwin Li
Kind of a one note joke / sci-fi kind of thing about a prisoner who may or may not be a God. Why yes, that is Martin Freeman (The Hobbit (Bilbo) / Sherlock (Watson) as the assuredly human protaganist. Was short and amusing, reminded me a little of 2011's "God of Love" (which won) although a much more compact and punchy piece.
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) / Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
A terrifying slice of life as a woman with two older kids attempts to flee her abusive husband, with the aid of her fellow workers and supervisers at a department store. The abuse is hinted at and uncovered slowly, by the end, I was on the edge of my seat. Really powerful stuff that totally communicates the helplessness and terror of a woman and family in that situation.
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me) / Esteban Crespo
Kids in war zones are good fodder for both documentaries and live action shorts. This one was also terrifying (with good reason) and also a bit of a tear-jerker. Three aid workers travel into a war zone to rescue child soldiers. They come across a band of child soldiers with sobering results. But at the end, perhaps a little redemption. Triggering on a lot of levels, so be warned.
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) / Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
Goofy, swell, funny. A real life family who can't seem to get it together, but end up having a good time together nonetheless. Combine Roseanne with Vicar of Dibley. Loved it.