It’s Oscar season, which means around here it’s Oscar Shorts season! For the 35th year, the Wichita Public Library is offering the animated, live action, and documentary short films that are up for Academy Awards, and while nowadays they’re all readily accessible to just about anyone, anywhere, we Wichitans do like to remind people that for decades, Wichita was the only place outside New York and L.A. where people could see the shorts programs.
Like just about everything, this year, the library’s exhibitions are going online, and for the next 30 days starting today, you can watch any or all of the shorts by registering through the library’s website—there are a limited number of spots, and registration has been open for a while, but if you hop on it soon, you should be able to get in without a problem.
There’s a pretty good variety of films through each program — unlike that time a few years back when the unofficial theme seemed to be “dead children” — but to me, if variety is what you’re looking for, you can never beat the animation. My favorite of those this year is easily a movie called Genius Loci, which is sort of an impressionistic, semi-surreal story of an immigrant’s experience in France, with lushly gorgeous, flowing drawings and colors. That said, another one, called Opera, actually made me stand up and walk right up to the screen, which you can do since you’re at home. You watch that one, you’ll see what I mean.
The Academy’s expressed commitment to diversity has sort of taken off with fits and starts, but at least this year, you can see it in the live action and documentary short films. There are some of the expected topics and themes in each program, but also faces and voices with stories that have always been here, but that we’ve rarely heard. Not every single one of the selections was my cup of tea, but there’s thankfully a wide enough range of perspectives, styles, and subjects that everything is worth watching, it’s not all deadly serious as it sometimes is, and there should be something for just about everyone.