Nominations for the ninety-fifth Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, and included five nods for films released by The New Yorker. Among the magazine’s nominees are a pair of documentary shorts, along with a trio of films competing in the Best Animated and Live Action Short Film categories. The nominations raise the total number of Oscar nominations received by New Yorker films to fifteen, and mark a record for the magazine in a single year. The winning films will be honored at the Oscars ceremony on March 12th in Hollywood.
Two New Yorker films will compete in the Best Documentary Short Film category. “Stranger at the Gate,” directed by Joshua Seftel, tells the story of Richard (Mac) McKinney, a former Marine from Indiana who returns to his home town after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Struggling with P.T.S.D. and driven by Islamophobia, McKinney plans an attack on a local mosque—but, when he starts spending time with congregants, encounters a faith community that welcomes and profoundly changes him. Seftel, who has earned nominations for Emmy and Peabody Awards for an earlier project, “The Secret Life of Muslims,” told The New Yorker that the Afghan refugees in his latest film are “true, real-life heroes.” “At a time of division and hate, ‘Stranger at the Gate’ reminds us of our shared humanity,” he said.
The New Yorker’s second nominee for Best Documentary Short, “Haulout,” was directed by the sister-and-brother filmmaking team Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev. The film follows a marine biologist living on a remote beach in the Siberian Arctic, where he measures the often deadly effects of climate change on the region’s walrus population. While living with their subject in a small hut surrounded by throngs of the animals, the filmmakers experienced a mix of claustrophobia and awe. “Witnessing the enormous gathering of walruses and seeing the suffering that is brought about by climate change was heartbreaking,” Arbugaeva, a lifelong resident of the region, said. “We hope that our film will touch people’s hearts and inform their understanding of the vulnerability of the natural world in the Arctic.”
Two films released by The New Yorker received nominations for Best Animated Short Film. In João Gonzalez’s “Ice Merchants,” a father and son share a cozy but vulnerable home, precariously situated at the top of an icy cliff. What at first seems to be a whimsical depiction of parachuting ice harvesters ultimately tells a much deeper story—one revealed without dialogue, only music and animation. Gonzalez called the making of “Ice Merchants” one of “the most challenging but fulfilling” experiences of his life. “I’ll be eternally grateful to the amazing bunch of artists I was lucky enough to surround myself with,” he said. “And I will always be proud of what we were able to achieve as a small but very united team.”
Also in the Best Animated Short category, “The Flying Sailor” draws inspiration from the Halifax explosion of 1917, in which a steamship loaded with explosives detonated after a collision. The filmmakers, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, depict a sailor who is ripped from his perfectly normal day and launched into the sky. “Our idea was to expand those few catastrophic seconds in the air into as many minutes and imagine the sailor’s voyage as a subjective and visceral near-death experience,” Forbis and Tilby, who have earned three previous Oscar nominations in the same category, told The New Yorker. “We all experience moments in life that pull us from our path, strip us bare, and ultimately change us.”
In the Best Live Action Short Film category, the New Yorker-released “Night Ride” follows a woman who finds herself accidentally operating a tram. As the tram makes its rounds, two men menace a trans woman while other passengers look on, even when she asks for help. “The film tells a story about the challenges of being different,” the director, Eirik Tveiten, said. “Individuals all over the world fall victim to prejudices and harassment, and many a time it seems easier to mind our own business and look the other way. I hope our film can inspire people to find the courage to speak up and take action.”
“Stranger at the Gate” and “Haulout” were released as part of The New Yorker Documentary series, which showcases a new film about a topical issue each week. The magazine showcased “Ice Merchants,” “The Flying Sailor,” and “Night Ride” as part of Screening Room, a series that features fictional short films from around the world. They can be viewed, along with all other New Yorker films, on the magazine’s YouTube channel, where you can subscribe and get a notification each time a new film is added.
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