Vying for an Oscar in the Animated and Live Action Shorts category is about as close to anonymity as you can get in Hollywood.
Yet among the finalists are some impressive entries, such as the German “Spielzeugland” (Toyland).
Set in a small German town in the winter of 1942, the 14-minute film follows the close friendship between two 6-year-old boys, the Aryan Heinrich and the Jewish David Silberstein.
The Silberstein family is about to be deported to a concentration camp, but when Heinrich asks his mother where his buddy is going, she tells him he’s taking a trip to Toyland.
Heinrich is intrigued, and when the town’s Jews are rounded up the boy sneaks aboard the train to accompany David to Toyland.
In less than a quarter hour, the vignette tells us more about the emotional devastation sowed by the Nazi regime than many a big-budget feature.
Screenings of the five animated shorts, including the hilarious Russian “Lavatory Lovestory,” and the five live-action shorts will start Friday, Feb. 6, at the Landmark (West Los Angeles), Laemmle Sunset 5 (West Hollywood), South Coast Village (Costa Mesa) and Laemmle Playhouse 7 (Pasadena). There will be separate admission tickets for the animated shorts and the live-action shorts.
In addition, the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills will present all 10 shorts at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 17. For more information, visit www.oscar.org, or phone (310) 247-3600.