Shorter Can Be Sweeter


If it’s April in the Flint Institute of Arts movie season, it’s generally time for patrons to see the best in world-class short films. And indeed, between April 21 and 23, the museum will present the official programs of Academy Award nominees in the live-action and animated fields.

These small wonders annually prove that even in filmmaking, less can exceed more.

Take, for example, Piper, which won the most recent Oscar for best animated short. It’s six minutes of bliss: Not a word of dialogue is heard in a lovely story from the folks at Pixar, with whose feature Finding Dory this short counterpart was paired last year in theaters.

Piper provides a lesson in perseverance in telling a wordless tale of a momma piper who presents her baby bird with watery seaside challenges in teaching it to find food. Like the rest of the Pixar canon, it connects keenly with watchers of all ages.

Not surprisingly, the live-action short winner, Sing, provides a moral as well, albeit one not immediately apparent as we see a Hungarian teacher lead her school choir through a demanding performance. But all is not what it seems, and there’s something to be said about tolerance in its message. (Hint: There’s a double meaning in the title.)

But those two films are just highlights, as both programs will offer all five Oscar nominees in their category, plus extra added attractions. As for which shorts you’ll see on which days, consult the FIA website.

Also on the April schedule in the FIA’s flagship Friends of Modern Art film series are a Parisian drama, a rural American documentary and a thriller of sorts
set in Chile.

The great French actress Isabelle Huppert – a recent Oscar nominee for Elle, shown at the FIA last month – headlines Things to Come, playing April 7-9 (102 min., PG-13). She appears as a high school philosophy teacher who is forced to refocus her life goals after her husband announces he is leaving her. To say it’s been a good year professionally for Ms. Huppert may be an understatement.

Coming April 13-15 is Peter and the Farm, in which a proud but isolated Vermont farmer named Peter Dunning regretfully confronts his legacy as he sees his life nearing an end. has described this haunting mix of documentary and cautionary tale (91 min., not rated) as “a wooly meditation on mortality.”

The setting shifts to South America for Neruda, which is slated for screening April 28-30. Gael Garcia Bernal heads the cast of a 107-minute, R-rated, Golden Globe-nominated drama as a 1940s police inspector who hunts down famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda after the latter becomes a fugitive for joining the Communist Party.

In addition to the above FOMA-sponsored screenings, the FIA is teaming with the Flint Jewish Federation to present a special April 20 “teaser” to May’s annual Karen Schneider Jewish Film Festival of Flint at the museum. The teaser title, for which admission is free, is Fanny’s Journey, a drama set in World War II-era France, and show time that evening is 7pm.

For times and other info on FIA films and other events, visit or call 810.234.1695.


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