The title that saw Riz Ahmed stifle laughter, the press room crack up and Allison Williams murmur “no comment” at Oscar nominations last month hits theaters today as ShortsTV presents Oscar Nominated Short Films at circa 380 locations in 75 markets.
The program, three feature-length presentations of the five nominees for Live Action, Animated and Documentary short films, will expand to 500-600 screens by Academy Awards week. Exhibitors can play any or all of the trio. Some are splitting the doc shorts, at 160 minutes, in two. “We leave that up to theaters,” said ShortsTV founder-CEO Carter Pilcher. My Year Of Dicks is an animation entry.
ShortsTV has been releasing these theatrically for 18 years and they do pretty well, hitting $3.5 million in box office pre-Covid. That fell to $1.8 million in 2021 but Pilcher is hoping for a rebound, calling this year’s crop “absolutely some of the best and most audience-friendly films we’ve seen” and “some of the year’s best films in any category.”
The Animation program is popular with this year’s lyrical The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Peter Baynton, Charlie Mackesy, based on the children’s book, considered a draw. The other nominees, include Flying Sailor by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby; Ice Merchants by João Gonzalez; An Ostrich Told Me The World Is Fake And I Think I Believe It by Lachlan Pendragon and Sara Gunnarsdóttir’s My Year of Dicks about a fifteen year old determined to lose her virginity despite pathetic pickings in the outskirts of Houston in the early 90s. Ahmed’s pause after reading the title aloud at the Jan. 24 nominations went viral.
As a package, “The first four are shown and then there’s an [advisory] that comes up on the screen, and a pause of three or four minutes if parents want to leave,” said Pilcher. “We’ve had to do this a couple of times before, because the program is unrated.”
Nominated live action shorts include Le Pupille by Alice Rohrwacher, produced by Alfonso Cuarón; The Red Suitcase by Cyrus Neshvad; An Irish Goodbye by Tom Berkeley and Ross White; Night Ride by Eirik Tveiten and Ivalu by Anders Walter.
Documentary nominees are Haulout by Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev; How Do You Measure A Year? by Jay Rosenblatt; The Martha Mitchell Effect by Anne Alvergue and Debra McClutchy; and Stranger At The Gate by Joshua Seftel.
Other notable specialty openings: Bleecker Street presents period drama Emily on five screens in New York (Angelika, Cinemas 1, 2, 3 and Lincoln Square) and LA (Grove and Century City), expanding to circa 500 next week. Written and directed by Frances O’Connor in her feature debut, it imagines Emily Brontë’s own Gothic story that inspired her seminal novel, Wuthering Heights.
Haunted by the death of her mother, Emily (Emma Mackey) struggles within the confines of her family life and yearns for artistic and personal freedom as her sheltered life, and that of her sisters Charlotte (Alexandra Dowling) and Anne (Amelia Gething), is enlivened by the arrival of a new parish priest (Oliver Jackson-Cohen).
Premiered in Toronto, Deadline review here. It’s 91% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Focus Features presents Of An Age in 289 domestic locations. Written and directed by Goran Stolevski and his second film. Focus released his feature directorial debut You Won’t Be Alone last year.
Of An Age, which opened the Melbourne International Film Festival and claimed the CinefestOZ film prize, starring Elias Anton, Thom Green and Hattie Hook. The story of an 18-year-old Serbian born, Australian amateur ballroom dancer who experiences an unexpected and intense 24-hour romance with a friend’s older brother, has a 90% RT critics score.
Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone, which premiered at Sundance last year, stars Noomi Rapace as a witch struggling for human connection in 19th century rural Macedonia.
Grasshopper Film and Gratitude Films present Pacification by Alberto Serra at Lincoln Center in New York as well as Chicago, Seattle and a few other markets. Arriving in LA March 3. A tropical epic about a high-mannered French government official (Benoît Magimel) who struggles to hold onto his tenuous colonial power over the Tahitian locals while downplaying rumors of resumed nuclear testing by the French military.
Premiered at Cannes. Named the Best Film of the Year by Cahiers du Cinéma, winner of the Louis Delluc Prize (shared with Alice Diop’s Saint Omer) and with multiple nominations at this year’s Lumières and César Awards. A 91% with critics on RT. Deadline review here.
Film Movement presents A Radiant Girl, written and directed by Sandrine Kiberlain and starring Rebecca Marder in New York (Quad Cinema). National release to follow. An official selection at Cannes Critics Week in 2021. Marder received a 2023 César Nomination for Best Female Newcomer for her role as a vibrant, carefree 19-year-old aspiring actress rehearsing for the entrance exam to the coveted Conservatory as time is running out in Nazi-occupied France.
Samuel Goldwyn films presents political thriller 88, written and directed by Eromose, in 16 theaters including NY and LA. Premiered at the Tribeca Festival. Brandon Victor Dixon stars as Femi Jackson, the financial director of a Democratic super PAC to elect presidential candidate (Orlando Jones) who uncovers a conspiracy while tracking donations with the help of an investment blogger (Thomas Sadoski). Charlamagne Tha God exec produced.
Screen Media presents mystery thriller Devil’s Peak by Ben Young starring Billy Bob Thornton, Robin Wright and (her son) Hopper Penn in limited release. Deep in the Appalachian Mountains, Charlie (Thornton) controls his family and his meth-dealing business with his fists. Based on the novel Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy.