BEVERLY HILLS (AP) — For many Oscar viewers, the presentation of the short film categories during the sprawling three-and-a-half-hour ceremony is usually a good chance for a bathroom break. But for the filmmakers who crafted 40-minutes-or-less masterpieces worthy of recognition from the motion picture academy, it’s their moment to bask in the spotlight.

“We were stunned when we were nominated,” said Ian Barnes, director of the cancer drama “Wish 143,” at a Tuesday screening of this year’s animated and live action Oscar nominees at the academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters. “It was like being fired out of a cannon. It’s still a rush now, and it’s two weeks later.”

“The Crush” director Michael Creagh said making his 15-minute live action film was a family affair. His brother served as the director of photography, his wife was an associate producer, his father became an executive producer after helping fund the film, and his son played the central character: a matter-of-fact 8-year-old boy who falls in love with his teacher.

Several past short film Academy Award winners have moved on to bigger projects following their wins. Taylor Hackford directed 1982’s “An Officer and a Gentleman” after earning the live action short Oscar in 1978 for “Teenage Father.” Before he became animation chief at Pixar and Disney, John Lasseter nabbed an animated short Oscar in 1989 for “Tin Toy.”

“I think that short films often contain an originality, a creative freedom, an energy and an invention that is inspiring and entertaining,” said Kenneth Branagh, the actor-director-screenwriter and four-time Oscar nominee who hosted Tuesday’s short film celebration. “I think they are, as Shakespeare put it, a good deed in a naughty world.”

The animated short nominees at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony are the Pixar twister “Day & Night” by Teddy Newton; subversive instructional film “Let’s Pollute” by Geefwee Boedoe; cultural whirlwind “Madagascar, a Journey Diary” by Bastien Dubois; and the storybook adaptations “The Gruffalo” by Jakob Schuh and Max Lang and “The Lost Thing” by Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann.

Besides “Wish 143” and “The Crush,” other live action short Oscar nominees are the religion drama “The Confession” by Tanel Toom; genocide story “Na Wewe” by Ivan Goldschmidt; and modern-day Cupid tale “God of Love” by Luke Matheny, who wrote, directed and starred in the short film as his graduate film thesis at New York University. Matheny laughed when Branagh asked how he juggled multiple roles.

“That’s funny,” said Matheny, “because I was gonna ask you that question.”

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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