You can be sure of one thing: None of the Hollywood glitterati who, on the advice of their agents, obscured their cleavages and kept their politics under their hats at this year's supposedly war-dampened Academy Awards orgy have seen two minutes' worth of the short films that were nominated for Oscars. Great artists like Julia Roberts and Vin Diesel just can't afford to think small.
Until now, ordinary movie lovers haven't had their fair shot at the shorts, either. The movie chains don't run them -- no profit in it -- and, try as they might, art-of-the-cinema idealists at PBS and the IFC can't keep up.
Kudos, then, to the Starz FilmCenter for bringing the complete roster of all nine Oscar-nominated shorts -- five animated, four live-action -- to Denver audiences. Ranging from four to 29 minutes in length, they represent eight countries and span a whole spectrum of ideas, from the sudden growth of a cherry tree inside a Japanese cartoon character's head (Mt. Head) to a little boy's brutal experience of apartheid in South Africa (Dog). The 2003 animation winner, Eric Armstrong's The ChubbChubbs (USA), takes us on a fantastic visit to the planet Glorf, where we meet the awkward hero, Meeper, some ZyZaks and a gaggle of the title characters. The live-action winner, The Charming Man (from Denmark), concerns the comic plight facing a young man when his ID number gets mixed up with that of an Arab immigrant.
Toiling mostly in anonymity, the makers of these inventive films deserve more attention than they ever get. The Oscar shorts program opens Friday, April 4, and runs through Thursday, April 10; Starz is located in the Tivoli on the Auraria campus. For show times, call 303-820-FILM.