Wes Anderson’s ‘The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar’ In Oscar-Nominated Shorts; Rob Reiner’s ‘God & Country’ Calls Out Christian Nationalism – Specialty Preview

Film

There exist three Oscar categories where it’s possible to watch all nominated films in one shot – that’s shorts, Animated, Live Action and Documentary. Packaged into three feature length films presented by ShortsTV, the Oscar Nominated Short Films open in theaters today for a four-week run on about 650 screens in the U.S. and Canada.

It’s 19-year tradition popular with audiences and theaters. Each film is also “an event. Then you can go argue about who you think should win,” says ShortsTV founder and CEO Carter Pilcher.

Theater owners can screen any or all of the three compilations however and whenever they want from  a traditional run to a one-week marathon before the Academy Awards on March 10.

Pilcher says the animated bundle tends to do the best historically, although the 2023 short called My Year Of Dicks nudged out some of the family audiences that love animation, giving Live Action the win. The trio grossed $3.05 million last year as it pushes back towards $3.8 million pre-Covid.

The highest profile of the group is Wes Anderson’s live action The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar, based the Roald Dahl story. It made an appearance at Sundance in January, screening alongside Anderson’s first short film debut Bottle Rocket, which premiered at the fest 31 years ago. It’s also a Netflix film as Pilcher notes an uptick of studio interest in short film.

Should the shorts have ducked from Dune: Part Two? “It’s a different audience,” Pilcher says. And the box office has been welcoming to range of indie and event films since last fall. So, “They’ll say, ‘Oh, we should see it tomorrow.’”

The short film categories are also levelers. “I think it’s great, because there’s no other category where you have” quite this range: young directors, women directors with films on weighty topics, going head-to-head with a Wes Anderson jewel starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes and Rupert Friend.

Other live action nominees: The After by Misan Harriman and notably stars David Oyelowo. Nazrin Choudhury’s Red White And Blue follows a financially strapped single mother forced to cross state lines in search of an abortion. King of Fortune by Lasse Lyskjær Noer and Invincible by Vincent René-Lortie, round out the five.

Animated shorts: Letter To A Pig by Tal Kantor; Ninety-Five Senses by Jared Hes and Jerusha Hess; Yegane Moghaddam’s Our Uniform; Pachyderm by Stéphanie Clément; War Is Over! Inspired By The Music Of John And Yoko by Dave Mullins. With time left for more, ShortsTV added two “highly commended” animations, I’m Hip by John Musker and Wild Summon by Karni Arieli and Saul Freed.

Documentary shorts: Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó by Sean Chang, from Disney. A loving portrait shot during Covid of his two grandmas of the title who he’s said make up a “grandma super team.” The grandmas have been out and about with Chang, racking up a few viral moment. Chang’s debut feature DìDi just won both the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast at Sundance. 

Sheila Nevins of MTV Documentary Films produced and directed The ABCs Of Book Burning. The longtime entertainment executive who spent many years at HBO before moving to MTV, will be retiring in March.

Dcs also feature The Barber Of Little Rock by John Hoffman and Christine Turner, Island In Between by S. Leo Chang and The Last Repair Shop by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers.

Magnolia Pictures is again working with ShortsTV to distribute Oscar-Nominated Shorts.

ShortsTV is the leading 24/7 linear and OTT HD TV channel dedicated to short-form video entertainment, including movies and series, with over 13,000 titles.

Click below for official Oscar Nominated Shorts trailer.

Other specialty openings: Oscilloscope Laboratories God & Country, produced by Rob Reiner and directed by Dan Partland (Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump) on over 80 theaters nationwide. The documentary looks at the implications of Christian Nationalism and how it distorts not only our constitutional republic, but Christianity itself. Featuring prominent Christian thought leaders and social activist including Russell Moore, editor in chief of Christianity Today and director of the Public Theology Project; social activist Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II; political commentator and author Charlie Sykes; political commentator and author David French; evangelical clergyman Rob Schenck; and VeggieTales co-creator and Holy Post podcast host Phil Vischer.

The film screened on Capitol Hill last month.

Kimi Takesue’s documary The Onlookers, a visually striking, immersive meditation on travel and tourism in Laos in her third film. Opens at the Metrograph in NYC.

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