Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

Dear Basketball – This was my favorite of the five nominees. NBA legend Kobe Bryant wrote a letter to basketball as his career was coming to an end. This short takes his letter and sets it to a beautiful pencil-drawn story about a young boy falling in love with basketball and dedicating his life to honoring the game. Good animation, powerful story.

Lou – This was Angi’s favorite. This Pixar short is a feel good tale about the toys and clothes that end up in a Lost and Found at a school and how they help a bully change his view on life. I thought it was good, but there were a few loose ends (that were highlighted in the introduction of the title on the screen) left in the story. Typical Pixar quality with nice details.

Garden Party – This was our least favorite. When we got our tickets, there was a notice warning viewers that there was something gross at the end of this short. It was gross, and not necessary, but then again, the entire premise – frogs doing frogs things at a deserted(?) and desserted (with mold and flies) house wasn’t exactly world changing.

Negative Space – A feel-good/feel-bad story about a boy recalling the most important lesson his father ever taught him. The metaphor about properly packing a suitcase comes full circle with an emotional ending.

Revolting Rhymes – A fun play on Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs, Snow White and a few other fairy tales with a number of twists and turns. This was labelled as Part One, and the story ends with a Wolf possibly preparing to do what Fairy Tale wolves do. A fine short, but there are many wonderful variations of these fairy tales.

Added Content: Because there are only five nominated shorts, there were a couple additional shows included. These were labelled as Highly Recommended and we each found one we definitely would have taken over Garden Party.

Weeds – This is a very short piece that brings Zen Mindfulness to a dandelion. I enjoyed this one, because I feel the simplicity of the story, matches the simplicity of the lesson.

Achoo! – This was Angi’s favorite of the extras. This is a cute folk tale about how a Chinese celebration came to be. A young dragon must try to outsmart some of his older and bigger rivals. Fun, but in my opinion, a little too much snot. (Really)

Lost Property Office – It was nice. A tale of a man who works in the Lost Property Office who must deal with becoming redundant. The style and format felt formulaic.

Still too cold to go outside

It’s better under the covers.


‘Tis 2018

31 Hours in New York City

I believe the rule is…

that to resume a blog, you must publish cat photos. Consider this blog resumed.

From the Streets of Stone Town

Matemwe, Zanzibar

Angi went scuba diving and swam with dolphins. I went for a walk on the beach with our friend Arch.

Betterflies, a grasshopper and some graphic sex

We went back to the Butterfly Center and this time I was much happier with my photos. Also, if you are offended by baby butterflies being made…well…

Zanzibar International Film Festival – Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Fuga (Brazil) – An animated short about an escaped prison in Egypt 50 BC. As he struggles across the desert he embarks on a journey of a lifetime. If I knew anything about Egyptian mythology, I am guessing I would have understood the symbolism of the things he saw. 7/10

Kaleidoscope (Kenya) – A haunting piece where a woman in a bad relationship ends up in an inescapable room. I did not understand the ending, but the movie was sufficiently haunting. 6/10

Give a Man a Mask and He Will Tell You the Truth (Zimbabwe) – Here is my second 10/10 of the festival. How do you tell the story of men having sex with men, something that is illegal in Zimbabwe? You flip filmmaking upside down and make sure that things are beautifully out of focus, so you can hear the voices when the identities are protected. The filmmaker also used beautiful masks – to represent the mask the men must wear, lest society discover who they are – in a technically outstanding documentary. 10/10

Black Head Cow (Tanzania/UK) – I have to go based on what I saw, not on what the filmmakers said about the film after I saw it…Dealing with the sensitive issue of young women being married off early and not being allowed to go to school, this film did a nice job of setting up the dilemma for the audience to ponder. There were no answers given – and that may be the best way to handle this. 7/10

Cream (South Africa) – This short film about racial identity goes a bit overboard. There is no question the attempted lightening of skin happened. There is no question that people have problems with how police handle race. There is no question that there are messed up families. To accomplish throwing everything together there was a lot of forced pontificating. 5/10

The Secret of Happiness (Rwanda) – There was no ice cream, no elephants, no giraffes and no cats in the movie, so I am not sure it was my secret of happiness. This is another film that looks at questionable traditions, in this case the requirement for young women to stretch their labia to please one’s husband. The topic certainly needs to be discussed, but this film isn’t the best path to that discussion. 6/10

Cheusi Dawa (Tanzania) – This is a weak after school special with bad translations. If only it were as simple to turn your life around as it is in this movie…one sister fails school but after a few months gets her dream job because she is a focused hard studier and the other sister has to choose her career or her man. Coincidentally, her hero is available to talk to her. 4/10

Binti Zanzibar (Tanzania) – Author’s Note: I know at least one person in this film. I have tried to not let that raise my film rating too much. This film was a laugh fest. Dealing with the issue of a young woman missing out on education and being forced to marry (see Black Head Cow above), this movie does it completely wrong. The filmmakers were there and listened to all the laughter (at the movie, not with the movie) – and then tried to talk about how it was a serious subject. Bad ‘B’ movie. 1/10

Thank You for the Rain – (UK/Kenya) – This one was very close to also getting a 10. This movie is about a Kenyan farmer who tries to get his community to take climate change seriously as his village suffers from devastating droughts followed by even worse floods. He then gets the opportunity, as people in Europe hear of what he is doing, to go speak at the Paris Climate Change Conference. The farmer himself films parts of the film and it is very well done. But it could have been a little better. 9/10