Canadian short filmmakers shine in Oscar nominations

Photo by Chad Galloway
Canadian-led projects earned three of the five nominations in the animated short category, while two of five live-action short nominations came from Canadian filmmakers as well.

Canadians dominated the Academy Awards animated short film nominations today (Jan. 22), with three of the five projects led by Canadian writer-directors.

David Fine and Alison Snowden’s NFB animated short, Animal Behaviour, is nominated alongside Pixar’s Bao, written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi, and Canadian-born Trevor Jimenez’s Weekends. 

Animal Behaviour, written and directed by Fine and Snowden (pictured), follows five animals who meet regularly to discuss their feelings in group therapy. The duo previously won the Oscar for best animated short in 1995 for Bob’s Birthday. Animal Behaviour was produced and executive produced by Michael Fukushima, who serves as exec producer at the NFB’s Montreal animation studio.

“We are so touched and honoured that Animal Behaviour has been recognized this way by Academy voters,” said the two in a joint statement.

Bao, set in Toronto, tells the story of Chinese-Canadian mother who gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes to life. It screened as a trailer ahead of Pixar’s tentpole release last summer, Incredibles 2. Shi is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Animation Program, which released a statement of congratulations to the filmmaker this morning.

Canadian-born Jimenez’s Weekends (U.S.) was also nominated. Written and directed by Jimenez, the Toronto-set short focuses on a young boy who shuffles between his divorced parents homes. Jeremy Slome served as a producer on the project, while Mattie Brehm was an associate producer. “This film is a love letter to my parents and the city of Toronto,” Jimenez told Playback Daily. “I’m still in awe and haven’t come back down to earth from the news.”

Others in the section include Bobby Pontillas and Andrew Chesworth’s One Small Step (U.S./China) and writer/director Louise Bagnall’s Late Afternoon (Ireland).

The short-film success wasn’t limited to the animation category either, with Jeremy Comte’s Fauve and Marianne Farley’s Marguerite selected to compete in the live-action short film section.

Written and directed by Comte, Fauve follows two boys who play a power game in a surface mine. The Oscar nominated short previously picked up the award for best Canadian short at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the prize for best short film at Palm Springs ShortFest. The project was also recently selected as part of TIFF’s 2019 Canada’s Top Ten list.

Also competing in the category is Marguerite from Farley. The short drama, produced by Marie-Hélène Panisset and written/directed by Farley, follows an aging woman who develops a friendship with her nurse. Fauve and Marguerite will compete against Vincent Lambe’s Detainment (Ireland/U.K.), Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Mother (Spain) and Guy Nattiv’s Skin (U.S.).

Elsewhere, Canadian Paul Massey earned a nomination for his work sound mixing Bohemian Rhapsody, while Toronto-based set designer Gordon Sim was nominated for his production design work on Mary Poppins Returns with John Myhre.

The 91st Academy Awards takes place on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019.

Photo by: Chad Galloway