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In-person screenings of the Academy Awards Short Film nominees are back

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The Academy Awards Short Film nominees are back screening in person this year, which they’ve been doing each year in Wichita for most of the last three-and-a-half decades, and at various times this week you can catch portions of the program at the Advanced Learning Library, with the entire lineup of the nominated live action, animation, and documentary short films playing there on Saturday.

The live action movies this year don’t seem quite as uniformly oppressive in their worldview as they sometimes have, which isn’t to say that some of them aren’t very serious, just that maybe they aren’t all gut punches. I do wish some worked a little better for me than they did, but I want to note how much I liked the Danish movie On My Mind, which starts out feeling quirky and ends up quite sweet and sad, and is the one movie out of the category’s nominees that felt to me like it was telling the most human story.

Four out of the five animated films are pretty adult, with a surprising number of dead animals and bare breasts, but the one I’d expect to win, and the one that was easily the most interesting and enjoyable for me to watch, is Robin Robin, a modest Christmas musical about a little bird who thinks he’s a mouse. It’s from the famed British animation studio Aardman, except instead of their usual Wallace and Gromit-style claymation, this one uses felt to create its animals, giving the whole thing a soft and tactile sense that just makes you want to curl up with a cozy blanket.

The documentaries offer a wider range of topics than it seems we’ve often gotten, but the one that’s likely to get the most attention, whether it wins or not, is The Queen of Basketball, about Lucy Harris, the first major women’s basketball star, who broke out right at the onset of Title IX, led her college to three championships, won an Olympic medal, and was even drafted by the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz. She’s a charming and fascinating subject, and one whose name we should have all grown up knowing.

Screening dates and times are at wichitalibrary.org

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.