Pentecost (Ireland) — Damien’s parents are devout Irish Catholics who very much want their son to be an altar boy. Unfortunately, his first attempt ended in embarrassing and painful failure, and there wasn’t much chance of him being asked to try again. But as fate would have it, the church found themselves in desperate need of an altar boy only a couple of weeks later and Damien was once again called into service. Pentecost is full of laughs that make it quite enjoyable, but the comedy is primarily driven from the approach they decided to take with the film rather than poking fun at Catholicism or the church.
i>Raju (Germany and India) — When German husband and wife Jan and Sarah travel to India to adopt their new son Raju, they are overjoyed and Raju seems quite happy with the arrangement as well. They had planned on going out together for some sightseeing the next day, but when Sarah wasn’t feeling well, she told Jan to take Raju out by himself while she stayed at the hotel. They walked through a nearby market, and came to a group of people flying kites. They stopped to watch for a couple of minutes, but when Jan looked back down, Raju was gone. Raju is certainly the heaviest of the live-action shorts, as it’s the only one that doesn’t really have any comedy, but it also feels like the weakest. The acting is good and the story is interesting, but it does suffer from being a bit too long.
The Shore (Northern Ireland) — Joe and Paddy (Ciarán Hinds and Conleth Hill) were inseparable when they were growing up, but then something happened to end their friendship, and Joe moved to the United States. After 25 years, Joe has returned to try to patch things up, and he’s brought his daughter with him for encouragement. At just under half an hour, The Shore is even longer than Raju, and the end isn’t completely satisfying, but the time passes pretty quickly thanks to the injection of a fair amount of comedy into the script, and at least Ciarán Hinds should be a familiar face to many in the audience.
Time Freak (USA) — Stillman has been working on a time machine for quite a while, but now it seems like he’s finally figured it out. When his best friend Evan stops by, he learns that Stillman has already traveled through time many times, but he’s become a slave to his own obsessive-compulsive behavior. This is the least original of the Oscar-nominated shorts, but it’s also the funniest and the most concise.
Tuba Atlantic (Norway) — When Oskar is struck with chest pains, he goes to see his doctor and learns he’s only got about six days left to live. He had intended to live out his last few days at home alone trying to complete a project he’d started with his brother many years ago, but his solitude is interrupted by Inger who has been assigned to be his angel of death. Much like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, Inger’s promotion to full angel is dependent upon her ability to accomplish the task assigned to her. This is another very funny film, and most of that comes from Oskar’s eccentricities. However, it’s not a pure comedy and it does get serious, just as you would expect when death is on the line.