Went to the movies tonight as my last chance to see a nominated film before the Oscars. I saw they were screening all the nominated Live Action Shorts, so I went. Mama mia, what an intense experience.
4 of the 5 nominees are about kids in grave peril and the other is about a sweet old French-Canadian lady on her death bed. So: tearful to say the least.
The two though that really stood out for me were “Skin” which is about hate crimes based in racism, and “Detainment” where two kids are accused of killing a 2 year old.
Walking out of the theater I was giving the edge to “Skin” because it was told slightly better, but the performance of 11-year-old Ely Solan in “Detainment” is tremendous and when I got home I watched the trailer just to see him do it again.
If there was a Juvenile Oscar like they had back in the day, this kid would have walked away with it. Not just because he can bring the waterworks but because the script was based on the interrogation transcripts, so this lad embodied history and spit it out as if it was truly happening to him.
But, alas, there’s controversy about this film. Turns out the parents of the victim are super pissed that they weren’t consulted, and feel like this 30 minute short humanizes the pair. Apparently there was a petition created once the film got on the short list and once it got nominated people, like me, started paying attention. Now a quarter million people are demanding that the director or the branch or whoever has the power can get it pulled from contention. But what up n coming director wants to work on something and then give up right before crossing the finish line?
Which is why I bring it to your attention. It’s a totally compelling movie of a super tragic incident and young Ely is such a natural in this role as an child being drilled by cops into slowly telling this grisly tale. Merely for acting sake it’s worth watching.
Also it’s a weird little lesson in perspective. From this side of the pond it’s one of the best short movies of the year, and from that side it’s, I guess, a skeleton in the closet that very few want exposed and retold.
So it will be very interesting to see, if it wins, what backlash, if any, will come from the UK onto the director when he brings the statuette home. I’ll also be curious how this affects his career as a director. Will he have to move to America? Change his name? Become an Uber driver?
All of the UK will be watching that oft-overlooked category extremely closely.