Collection of 2007 Academy Award Nominated Short Films (2007) on DVD is the only chance to see the majority of Oscar nominated short live-action and animated films for the 80th Academy Awards Short Film category, including the animated winner, "Peter and the Wolf," and the live-action winner, "The Mozart of Pickpockets."
"Peter and the Wolf", U.K. slow motion animation directed by Suzie Templeton, is set in contemporary rural Russia and is much darker that several previous adaptations of Sergei Prokofiev's suite for children.
French "The Mozart of Pickpockets" is an amusing, well acted Comedy/Crime from the lives of two out of luck Con Artists in Paris. One day they found themselves taking care of the immigrant deaf-mute boy who turned to be a better pickpocket than two professionals.
The other entries in the collection are:
Short live action:
"At Night," (Denmark) - one Holiday week in the lives of three young girls (18-20 years) that spend it in the cancer ward.
"The Substitute," (Italy) - One day, a very unusual teacher walks in the class room of a regular high school in the big city.
"Tanghi Argentini" - my favorite in this category. This s a charming and funny little Christmas film set on the passionate sound of Tango with a twist in the end that sure will make you smile with delight.
"The Tonto Woman" - the only English language film in the category, it is an adaptation of Elmar Leonard story about a strong, proud, and beautiful woman who was kidnapped by Indians, and when found after 11 years by her husband, she was rejected by him and had to live all alone in the cabin in the desert until one day a Mexican-American cattle rustler comes across her cabin and into her life...
"Even Pigeons Go to Heaven" (France) - and inevitable Appointment in Samara which mixes skillfully funny and macabre.
"Madame Tutli-Putli" (Canada) - a stop-motion film with very distinctive and disturbing visuals takes "Madame Tutli-Putli", once very beautiful, now resigned, tired and scary of something (or maybe somebody, or her memories and nightmares that look too real and keep her company during the trip ) to the train which destination better be kept unknown.
For some unknown reasons, two animated entries are missing from DVD:
"I Met the Walrus" (2007) five-minute short is based on the 1969 interview about peace that John Lennon gave to a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan in Toronto hotel room. Jerry Levitan produced the film that presents the series of surreal scribble-animation set on John's interview to a boy. "I Met the Walrus" is available on YouTube.
And finally I am coming to "My Love" (Russian: Moya lyubov) which is a huge and unforgivable omission on DVD because it is the Best of five nominated films. It is available on YouTube and I highly recommend it to every fan of the modern animated films, uniquely beautiful, poetic, and dream-like, using unusual technique.
These are my thoughts about Aleksandr Petrov's masterpiece:
"It was the sixteenth spring in my life, but for me it was a first spring. All the former springs simply mixed up" - the opening line of Ivan Shmelyov's "Istoriya Lyubovnaya"
"Moya lyubov" or "My Love", paint-on-glass-animated 2006 short film (26 minutes) directed by Aleksandr Petrov is based on A Love Story or "Istoriya Lyubovnaya" (1927) by Ivan Shmelyov. It takes place in the 19th century Russia and tells about the first love of the sixteen-year-old boy Anton who is torn apart by his feelings for a pure and gentle girl, the maid-servant for his wealthy family, Pasha and a mysterious enigmatic next door neighbor Serafima. Shemelyv's story was inspired by one of the most captivating love stories ever told, his famous namesake Ivan Turgenev's Pervaya lyubov' (1860; First Love), a novella that deals with the love of a sixteen-year-old boy Vladimir for his neighbor, 20 years old princess Zinaida, unattainable, devious but alluring and unforgettable. By the words of Petrov, the film "is about waking of first love, naive and childish, both resolute, and silly, with all tortures of a romantic soul. Not that I have gone through such feelings myself, but I deeply felt all of them." At the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, "Moya Lyubov" was called an "exquisite impressionist vision with a very poetic narrative and profound psychology". I believe that Petrov's film was the best of five nominees in the category Short Animated Films and deserved all awards possible. As much as I enjoyed the 2008 Oscar winner, the slow-motion updated to modern Russia version of Sergey Prokofiev's "Peter and Wolf", Petrov's film is simply in league of its own. Work on the film took place in Yaroslavl, Russia over a period of three years painting on glass sheets, using mostly his own fingers, resulted in 18720 paintings. The film's style is similar to that used in Petrov's other films ("Korova", "Rusalka", Oscar winning "Starik i More") and can be characterized as a type of Romantic realism. People and landscapes are painted on glass and animated in a very realistic yet delicate and dream-like fashion. In "Moya lyubov" Petrov includes Anton's inner thoughts while the boy reads Turgenev's "Pervaya Lyubov" and identifies with its narrator, Vladimir, the boy of the same age and the nightmarish scene when the ill boy imagines himself being buried beneath freshly-fallen deep snow on a dark night.
Every frame of the incredibly beautiful work is literally breathtaking. I can't compare him to any working animator. His films bring to mind the paintings of such poetic Russian Artists as Mikhail Nesterov, Vasiliy Polenov, Victor Borisov-Musatov, and even frescoes and icons of Andrei Rublyov that under magic hands of the master became living and breathing.