In animated winner "Harvie Krumpet," narrator Geoffrey Rush wryly recounts the whimsical, hard-luck life of a Polish immigrant in Australia. Filmmaker Adam Elliot sets a leisurely pace for Harvie's darkly comic misfortunes (when struck by lightning, his head becomes a magnet for small appliances), but the claymation film quirkily argues the importance of seizing the day.
HBO snapped up the winning documentary short, "Chernobyl Heart," but nominee "Ferry Tales" deserves honors for finding a feminine stronghold in an unlikely place. Every day at rush hour, the ladies' room of the Staten Island Ferry becomes both dressing room and clubhouse, with a clear pecking order and surprisingly rigid rules (the toilets, for instance, are not to be used). The film's likeably brassy interviewees praise the powder room as a place where women of different races and income levels can just be themselves outside of their domestic or corporate roles.
Short-film winner "Two Soldiers" adapts William Faulkner's story about a young farm boy who strives to accompany his older brother as an Army volunteer after Pearl Harbor. Filmmaker Aaron Schneider fumbles the moments of small-town humor, but the opening montage of brotherly love evokes Faulkner's elliptical prose without straining to emulate it.
Two short films involve the conflict in Sarajevo. In "The Red Jacket," a grieving German father gives away the clothes of his deceased son, and the title garment makes its way to an urchin in the war. Slovenia's "A Torsion" depicts a touring choir at a Sarajevo checkpoint, where they find themselves called to aid an ailing farm animal in peculiar but touching fashion. In opposite ways, both films affectingly show how war can bring out the worst in humanity but the best in individual human beings.
Peachtree Film Society screens Oscar Shorts 2004 April 17-20. Program 1 will be Sat., April 17, at 6 and 8:30 p.m. at Cinevision, 300 Northeast Expressway, Building 2. Program 2 will be Tues., April 20, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Lefont Garden Hills Cinema, 2835 Peachtree Road. Admission is $7.50, or $13 for both programs ($6.50 or $11 for PFS members). 770-729-8487. www.peachtreefilm.org. Note: "Two Soldiers" and "Ferry Tales" are in Program 1. "Harvie Krumpet," "The Red Jacket" and "A Torsion" are in Program 2.
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