Nothing small about Oscar’s Short Films

Nothing small about Oscar’s Short Films

With the 2016 Oscars behind us and the attention fixed on the Best Picture competitors, many of the brilliant short films nominated seem to slip by unnoticed.

Each of these films nominated for the Live Action Short Films category of the Oscars encapsulates a unique social issue or political within its narrative driven by the extraordinary lives of characters that manages to keep you captivated despite being less than a quarter of the length of your average film.

avia maria 2


1. Ava Maria – 6/10

The lives of Nuns in the West Bank who are in the middle of a vow of silence are turned upside down when a bickering Israeli family crash their car into the wall of their convent.

The 14 minute film mixes a comedic element into the strained and tense setting in a country at war. Some of the characters make use of caricature like the elderly mother in-law who is constantly arguing with her daughter in-law and the strict nun. The film is entertaining yet lacks the same riveting narrative of its competitors have.

Day one

2. Day One – 8/10

An Afghani interpreter for the US army is thrown  into the job on the first day when she must bridge the cultural gap and help the pregnant wife of a suspected bomb-maker. This story takes a refreshing look on the traditional American action films set in the middle east. It brings another usually unseen side to the tales and the complex issues of culture and tradition when two nations collide and is able to surprise and take unexpected turns despite its 25 minute screen time. This could easily be made into a feature film after the events leave the audience begging to know what could happen on day two, or three?


3. Shok- 8/10

Two friends in Kosovo find themselves in the middle of a volatile country at war during an occupation in the 90’s. The boys soon become involved in a dangerous situation that tests the limits of their friendship and could even threaten their lives. The film is based on true events and is a heart retching tale of friendship being torn apart by war.  Filmed in a grey palette that creates an effective atmosphere of the desperate times and the devastation that was left behind and using a bicycle as a central metaphor for the innocence and devastation of the time creates a successful and captivating narrative.


4. Stutterer- 9/10

A lonely typographer with a severe speech impediment is confronted with his biggest fear, meeting the object of his affections in his online relationship in person. This is a charming and humorous film with touches of romance portrayed in a quirky narrative that still manages to highlight the far reaching consequences of a stutter. The film is shot with extreme close ups of the main character that bring the audience into his thoughts and feelings along with his eloquent inner dialogue. The ending of the film is however reminiscent of every well rounded happily ever after romcom except for its long metaphorical moment of silence.  But you’re happy it does.

everything will be ok

5. Everything will be okay – 9/10

What starts out as a usual weekend were a divorced father picks his 8-year-old daughter, Lea, up for the weekend soon becomes anything other than the typical weekend visit when his plan unfolds. This film leaves the audience with a complex moral dilemma and is shot using a hand-held camera technique as well as makes the audience see things from the eyes of a child. The character of Lea is also expertly played by young actress Julia Pointner that far exceeds her age and helps to realize the conflicting emotions present in the separation of parent from child. The end of the film leaves the audience asking if everything will be okay.

Students complain of sexual harassment

Students complain of sexual harassment

Students on campus are signing a petition against alleged sexual harassment by private security.

DON'T TOUCH: Private security personnel on campus are accused of sexually harassing students. Photo: Michelle Gumede

DON’T TOUCH: Private security personnel on campus are accused of sexually harassing students. Photo: Michelle Gumede


Over 500 Wits students are signing a petition against the alleged sexual harassment by private security on campus hired to provide “operational control” in the face of fees protests.

“Wits University ought to be free space where females need not to worry about their safety,” says third-year BA student Mpho Ndaba, who started the petition.

The petition aims to raise awareness about sexual harassment on campus. Ndaba says the more female students he has spoken to, the more he realised that the harassment was being normalised.

According to Ndaba, students are not reporting these incidents because they think it’s normal or okay.

One of the students complaining, fourth-year BADA student Swankie Mafoko, says she was verbally harassed by the private security while she was reporting for VOW FM. Mafoko says she was inside Solomon House, when some security guards dressed in black and red came and stood behind her. The men started making sexual remarks about her body in a demeaning way.

She says she wasn’t bothered at first because she is used to catcalling at taxi ranks and other public spaces but she was shocked at the intensity of these guys’ remarks.

“What shocked me was when they were describing my breasts,” says Mafoko.

She says she was so shaken that she put on her denim jacket to cover her breasts and she immediately left without finishing her reporting.

“I panicked and walked away,” Mafoko says.

Mafoko says she did not report her incident because she didn’t see them and she doesn’t believe she can prove her victimisation.

“You can’t prove that kind of harassment on video, it’s my word against theirs,” Mafoko says.

Maria Wanyane, of the Wits Gender Equity office, says they have not received any official complaints about sexual harassment by private security so far.

Private security, who are mainly male, have been stationed on campus since October 2015 at a cost of nearly R2-million per month.

According to the Wits Gender Equity Office, sexual harassment doesn’t have to be physical. It can be any unwanted attention which can include heckling, whistling and catcalling.

“It’s important for everyone who has experienced any form of harassment to come forward and report it,” says Wanyane.

Wanyane says even if someone is harassed on campus by someone they don’t know, the unit has the power to view security footage and assist in identifying alleged perpetrators.


When nobody calls 911

A student with epilepsy who had a seizure in class last week has thrown the spotlight on campus preparedness for medical emergencies.

Wits students tweeted about a student suffering an epileptic seizure during a fourth-year law lecture at the FNB Building, West Campus.

According to an eye-witness, in a state of panic the lecturer did not know what to do or who to call.

The university website states that in a case of emergency, there are emergency panic buttons at numerous locations throughout the campus.

It says these can be identified by the orange panel surrounding the buttons and students and staff are encouraged, in the case of a genuine emergency, to press the button to speak to Campus Control.

“From my experiences, some don’t know what’s going on,” said Witsie Olwethu Twala, who suffers from epilepsy.

Twala said dealing with epilepsy on campus has been a daunting task.

“The first episode I had was in Psychology and luckily the lecturer had an idea of what was going on. I then had episodes in Anthropology and African Languages where the lecturer left because she didn’t know what to do,” said Twala.

Wits Campus Health told Wits Vuvuzela that, in the case of medical emergencies, students are to be taken to the clinic.

If the student is able to walk they should make their way down to the medical centre immediately. In the case where a student is unable to make their way to them, a nurse will be sent to assist.

While Campus Health may be available to assist, some students like Twala have resorted to creating a buddy system to ensure their safety on campus. “If you don’t have a friend who knows about your condition, you will find yourself in serious danger. I had to tell and train a friend in each of my classes to know what to do in case I have a seizure,” said Twala.

But despite this, Twala believes more should be done by the university. “The university needs to create awareness and help for the health centre and disabilities unit.”

Twala said: “A lot of the time people don’t think an episode is as serious as it is. Some think you’re just hungry, seeking attention or just faking it to get out of an assignment.”

Campus Control was not available for comment at the time of publication to confirm how well equipped the university and staff are to deal with medical emergencies.