Mar 042009
Authors: Marjorie Hamburger

Going to the pictures these days is an epic endeavor. Many films run from two to three hours, leaving audiences feeling restless and often sore in the tush. For those with a limited attention span or those who just want to keep their circulation going, I suggest viewing the five short films that were nominated for best short live action feature at this year’s Oscars.

The Lyric Cinema Café, located on Mountain Street in Old Town, is showing a special screening of all five shorts back to back until March 12 for audiences to embrace a unique form of cinema. These five short films are all from foreign countries including Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, France and Ireland.

“Spielzeugland” (“Toyland”) — Germany

From director Jochen Alexander Freydank comes the story of a young boy named Heinrich whose childhood is intertwined in WWII Germany. The Nazis are taking his close Jewish friend and his friend’s family away to somewhere he can’t go. To shield Heinrich from the harsh reality of his friend’s fate, his mother explains that the Jews are going to a place called “Toyland.”

“Auf der Strecke” (“On the Line”) — Germany/Switzerland

Reto Caffi directs this unsettling drama about a department store security guard who falls for a woman working at the department’s bookstore. He later witnesses a horrible crime on a subway, which he chooses to walk away from rather than intervene with. Later he discovers the relationship that the individual scrutinized on the subway has to his bookstore crush, and his conscience takes a downward plunge.

“Grisen” (“The Pig”) — Denmark

This Danish comedy by director Dorthe Warno Hogh is about an elderly man’s stay in a hospital as the doctors figure out whether or not he has cancer. During his stay, the only thing giving the man comfort is a painting of a pig on the wall. One morning he wakes to find the painting gone, resulting in his obstinate attempts to regain what he calls his “guardian angel pig.”

“Manon sur le bitumen” (“Manon on the Asphalt”) — France

Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont co-direct this short film about a young woman, Manon, who gets hit while bike riding and lays semiconscious on the pavement while the ambulance comes. While on the ground, Manon imagines how the people in her life will take the news of her death. This is a touching story that reminds audiences to treasure life and those in our lives who make it worth living.

“New Boy” — Ireland

From director Steph Green comes the story of Joseph, a young boy who immigrates to Ireland from Africa and experiences his first day at school. Chastised for being both new and different, Joseph learns to find his own way to fit in.

Why only experience one long movie that could end up being a drag when you can experience an assortment of five shorts? Along with the live action shorts, Lyric Cinema Café is also showing the ten animated short films nominated for the Oscars. Use this opportunity to view these specialties while they are still around!

Staff writer Marjorie Hamburger can be reached at

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