Awards Season Movie Review: The Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts


This poignant film follows former French Resistance member Colette Marin-Catherine as history student Lucie Fouble takes her to Germany to visit the concentration camp where her brother was imprisoned and ultimately died. It is interesting to hear Colette discuss her life during the film’s opening moments, but it becomes absolutely heartrending when they tour the camp. There isn’t anything unpredictable about the places the movie takes us, but that does nothing to dampen the effect it has on the viewer. It can be a bit uncomfortable to watch someone process such grief on camera, but it feels like it is important that we see it, just as it was important for her to experience it to help achieve some degree of closure. ★★★★

Available on YouTube

A Concerto Is a Conversation

Composer Kris Bowers (best known for his scores for Green BookBridgerton, and more), lets us watch him interview his grandfather in this very personal short. Horace Bowers Sr. tells his grandson how he started in Jim Crow-era Florida before making his way across the country to Los Angeles in search of a better life, for himself and for his future family. Interspersed with moments of Kris working on his music leading up to sharing a performance of one of his pieces at L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall with Horace. An absolutely beautiful film, filled with appreciation for those whose legacies we stand on and pure, joyful familial admiration. ★★★★★

Available on YouTube

Do Not Split

We all remember seeing the news reports of massive protests in Hong Kong beginning in 2019 over China’s increasing push to exert greater control over the semi-autonomous city, but we haven’t seen them like this. Director Anders Hammer takes us inside several demonstrations to experience them at street level with those who were fighting to keep their rights from being eroded away. There are many harrowing moments as a heavily armed police force takes a hostile and antagonistic stance towards the protestors, often with little regard for innocent bystanders just trying to go about their lives, but the quieter moments of those involved talking about why they felt a need to act are just as riveting. A striking and important movie. ★★★★★

Available on Vimeo

Hunger Ward

Be prepared to be upset. Largely filmed inside 2 pediatric malnutrition treatment centers in Yemen, this film shows Dr. Aida Alsadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they struggle to treat starving children in the war-ravaged Middle Eastern country. Director Skye Fitzgerald’s unflinching camera captures some of the most tragic and heartbreaking moments imaginable. There is very little hope for those suffering here, and the movie does not try to sugarcoat that fact. The images of traumatized and emaciated children and mothers wailing in agony will likely stay with you forever. And they are made only more upsetting when some context for how this situation came to be is provided in a few short paragraphs on screen at the end of the movie. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a film the whole world should see. ★★★★★

Available on Pluto TV

A Love Song for Latasha

When 15 year old Latasha Harlins was shot and killed in 1992 by a South Central Los Angeles shopkeeper who wrongly suspected her of trying to steal a bottle of juice, it was one of the incidents that helped to spark that year’s civil uprising in the city. This unique documentary is not about that however, instead telling the story of Latasha’s life through interviews with her family, stylized recreations, and avant-garde animation. It adds up to an entrancingly beautiful look back at a life that was full of so much promise and hope, undercut with an aching sadness at knowing it was ended far too soon. ★★★★

Available on Netflix

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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