Inevitably, reviewers are bound to give something (you'll pardon the expression) short-shrift. And if I tell you that I found the documentaries to be exceptionally strong this year, it's not because I mean to dissuade you from seeing either the animated or fictional shorts programs.
For the record: In Denver, the animated shorts and short features will be playing in two programs with separate admissions at Landmark's Mayan. The documentary shorts will be playing at the Sie Film Center in one program with one admission.
Of the animated nominees -- eight in all -- several stood out for me:
As for the documentaries, prepare to be devastated -- and I mean that in a good way.
Beautiful and touching, Joanna (from Russia) focuses on the relationship between a cancer-stricken mother and her young son. HBO's Crisis Hotline (which also can be seen on HBOGo) brings us into the only U.S. call center that responds to distraught veterans; and the Reaper (an appropriately grim nominee from Mexico) introduces us to a man who works in a slaughter house where he kills as many as 500 bulls per day.
In sum: If you're the sort who complains that too many movies are about nothing, you'll find solace and inspiration in these shorts programs, most of which have ample substance.