Every time we tune in for the Oscars and watch those brief, tantalizing glimpses of the nominees in the animated and live-action shorts categories, we never have a clue what they're about and suspect that we never will. Try as we might to make it to the cool film festivals where they're screened or to catch them when they appear in the nether regions of our cable TV dial, we always seem to fail. They're doomed to remain trailers from a parallel universe of Things We Wish We Knew About, where IRA accounts orbit rice makers to the sound of the latest track from that intriguing new band we read about once.
That's a damn shame, because not only do these shorts showcase some of the most inventive storytelling and dazzling visuals of any of the films opening each year, they come in the perfect bite-size portions for the busy aesthete with a modern attention span. Not only do they spotlight innovations in technology and allow us fast, powerful looks into different worlds, but they usually offer the distinct voices of independent artists who are working outside (and sometimes continents away from) the Hollywood studio system.
We've cajoled five of this year's nominees from the live-action short and animated short categories to allow us to screen their amazing films for a 24-hour period (from Thursday evening until Friday at 12 midnight EST, Feb. 25, 2005). They range wildly in style and in length, from "Gopher Broke's" breakneck four minutes to "Little Terrorist's" 15 minutes, but none should take longer to enjoy than a normal coffee break at work (not to suggest that's what any of you are doing right now). So sit back, and enjoy -- just make sure your sound isn't set too high. And when you win the Oscar prediction pool at the party on Sunday, just remember who butters your bagel around here.
[Note: Unless otherwise specified all the films are available only in Windows Media Player format. To download the Windows Media Player go here. To get more information about the player or to troubleshoot problems go here. OS X users need to use Windows Media Player 9 or above to view these films.]