Academy Short Film Winners, ‘Hair Love’ and “The Neighbors’ Window” Promote Identity and Empathy

“Just took a little bit of work and a whole lot of love.”

I could not upload or even manage to draft any Oscar related post this year. Oscar season has been ‘critical-time-in-the-semester’ for me this year (do not ask me how I managed this post). It came to an end on Sunday night with South Korean black comedy, Parasite, winning the major awards and beloved Netflix picking up just two wins after leading the nominations chart. Well, well, money still can not do some things.

While trying to stay updated by looking up the winners of the night, I was drawn to the two winners in the shorts category- animation (Hair Love) and film (The Neighbors’ Window). I luckily found both on YouTube after brief research.

Hair Love tells a short story of a morning in the life of a young African-American girl with hair problems. She struggles to find the right style for her hair as she has chosen not to conceal it under her frequently used headwears which her dad would happily make her use because it saves him the time and stress. A part of the film that I enjoyed is the way in which the dad’s struggles with the hair-styling is depicted, with the hair being a formidable opponent that is ready to get into a bout with him. The short film is beautifully animated with amazing details included, which tells that the story has been told by someone with such experience. It is nothing new. It has only taken a while for such a story to be told and it has come at the right time.

Hair Love tackles the problems Afrucan-American ladies go through with their natural hair while growing up and even as an adult. There has been huge outcry in recent years over the lack of diversity in hair products for ladies of ethnic minority and even acceptance for such style of hair. Behind this story is a deeper layer that discusses identity, family and acceptance. It is however important that the right person tells stories like this often. Hopefully, more doors are opened on the back of Parasite’s Academy wins. As I always try to keep things spoiler-free, I will not be going into details. I would only push you all to go watch. It is 6 minute long. Our lovely Issa Rae has a voice role in it, that might make you go see it. Yup, I knew it. Off you go! (youtube link below.)

On the live action side of things in the short story category, “The Neighbors’ Windows” took home the prize of best film. It tells the story of a married woman with three kids who finds and envies the enthusiasm and energy lacking in her marriage in the life of a young couple who has just moved in right across the street from her home. She is attracted to the passion burning on the other side of the road while facing a mini midlife crisis of hers. Evidently dissatisfied with her life, she finds consolation and excitement in a life she can only wish for herself. But things is not always as it is.

Despite being a 20 minute story, the sequence draws you in to feel empathy for the lives who accommodate both sides of the road. This is made possible by the natural interpretation of the role by Maria Dizzia, who plays the role of wife, mother and non-threatening voyeur. I loved her as an actress in Orange is The New Black, but disliked her character because she stole her imprisoned best friend’s fiance. Need I say more? At the end of the short film, we realize that both couples admire things from each other’s lives and it is a question of ‘Which would you rather have?” It teaches to look beyond the facade of positives that entice us in people’s lives. Without open acknowledgment, monitoring, learning and admiration could be happening on both sides and we can only try to live the best of our own lives without filters and ‘copycatting’. This is a highly recommended 20 minute watch. Link has been added below:

I do not know if it is just these two that I have watched today, but short films tend to hit us hard with those messages which we might miss in a feature length. On that note, you all should look forward to Quibi, a new streaming service aiming to offer 10 minute long (or less) episodic stories dedicated to mobile. Sounds interesting, isn’t it. I only found out about it while watching the cringe-worthy Superbowl 2020 ad compilations. Watch one of the numerous Superbowl/Oscar Quibi ads below. (I promote like an influencer already. I am in no way getting a percentage from Quibi)

I hope I am being super inconsistent as promised. You guys should check out those short films. They would only take 26 minutes of your life, maybe 30, with extra playback minutes added. Tell me what you think. It is a major reason for doing this. Remember?- “watching TV shows is one thing, talking about it is another beautiful thing.” Let’s have that roundtable, baby!!!

Bis Bald!

3 comments

  1. Hair Love is my favourite here, it was totally relatable too, plus a dad getting to help his daughter with stuff like her hair isn’t something I get to see all the time 🥺 ✨✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. I think that’s what won people over. We don’t see narratives like this often although they’re really needed. It shows that change is coming.

      Like

  2. […] Let me just come out and say it before we get into the review. I might have a thing against movies dealing with death as a theme, most especially, animated works. I am just never impressed. No matter how much I enjoy the story and graphics, I am barely touched. It is just another “cool story” to me. I see people talking about fighting tears and questioning their entire life, but not me. By the way, I am talking about just two Disney Pixar movies: Coco (2017) and Soul (2020). I guess I can just always tell that everything will be fine at the end of the day, and watching such movies is entirely about getting immersed in their worlds, while picking out a few lessons at the same time. Let’s get into Soul. This is our first animated feature film review. The first on this blog was the Oscar winning short film, Hair Love. […]

    Like

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