International flair to Oscar-nominated Best Live Action Shorts

BROTHERHOOD — When a young Tunisian man comes home with a new bride in tow after fighting in Syria for ISIS his family has mixed reactions.  His father, who is not enamored with his son’s choices, faces an unfathomable choice — turn his son in or accept him back into the family with his new wife. There is plenty of tension here.  This was my least favorite among the five films.

NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB — The only comedy among the films, this follows two brothers out for a ride on a motorbike near the Algerian border.  The younger one comes upon a donkey wandering alone with earphones over his ears and a cargo that includes several bags of white powder. The older brother realizes what he has and, when they get back to town, contacts the local drug dealers about his haul.  Meanwhile, the younger brother has other ideas. Funny and ironic, this short film has little to do with soccer and nothing to do with American football.

THE NEIGHBORS’ WINDOW — The only English-speaking film among the nominees, this film focuses on a family of five living in an apartment directly across the street from a young couple whose marital exploits are easy … and irresistible … to follow. The parents struggle meeting their own needs and those of their three young kids and pine for the days when they, too, were young and carefree.  But after more than a year, much changes.  This is a lesson in appreciating what you have.

SARIA — Girls in an orphanage in Guatemala live practically as slaves under abominable circumstances.  When they escape from the guards, they head out in search of America and a better life.  Things do not go well for the girls.  Based on a true story, Saria will prove that many of those seeking asylum in the U.S. are not rapists and murderers.  This is a powerful film and the one I think is most likely to win the Oscar in this category.

A SISTER — Also based on a true story, this film is a 20-minute thriller about an emergency (911) operator taking a call from a woman trapped in a car with the man who only minutes before assaulted her.  Thinking that the woman is calling her sister, the man is equally agitated and suspicious.  The operator must solve the puzzle from the cryptic clues of the caller.  It is suspenseful right up to the end.

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