This year the 2019 Oscar Nominated Short Documentary Films were released to the general public, albeit in extremely limited release. While one crummy old theater in San Francisco was showing these shorts, we were happy to find these films in San Rafael (hum…a broken down flea bitten fire trap or a renovated/updated classic Art Deco movie palace? The drive north was definitely worth it.) J&J
Black Sheep/UK, 27 minutes
This film was based on true events. An immigrant Nigerian family is living in London when a 10 year old girl is killed in their neighborhood for no apparent reason. The family moves to Essex with the hopes of a better future only to discover worse racist attitudes.
The immigrant teenage son named Cornelius suddenly finds the local teenage “toughs” take a shine to him for some unclear reason. Cornelius immediately decides to change who he is to match their approval, behavior, lightening his skin color and even wearing blue contact lenses. Cornelius struggles with “making friends with monsters” leaves the audience contemplating the situation with no easy answers.
End Game/USA, 40 minutes
WOW! The title refers to “palliative care” and “hospice treatment”. To be clear, in general, it looks at end of life treatment for terminally ill patients of all kinds. It’s a look behind the curtains inside San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project and UCSF’s Palliative Care Program.
It’s a tough look in clear language. It’s often heart wrenching, sometimes amazing, but mostly respectful, sensitive and loving. All the patients, staff and family’s collectively reveal perspective’s that are concurrently based on love, compassion and peace.
Period. End of Sentence/USA, 26 minutes
OK. Now we’ll travel to India and an upbeat story set in a small village outside Delhi, India. It’s a blunt conversation about women’s menstruation. Most local men don’t know what it is, the village women giggle and avoid the topic if possible.
Fast forward, the film is about “The Pad Project”. Gender and subjective issues aside, this film is focused on local women taking control and ownership of a program where women develop, produce and sell/distribute sanitary pads to neighboring towns and villages spawning micro businesses that change lives and promote healthier behaviors. Hindi with English subtitles.
Lifeboat/USA, 34 minutes
This film is based on the German non-profit organization dedicated to helping refugees fleeing Libya (and numerous other countries) in recent years.
An over arching sense of disconnection for the refugees is palatable on many levels. Ultimately, these people are seeking a better life in another place. The risks are terrifying and the future clouded at best.
Special note: We were in Sicily a few years ago while these humanitarian rescues were occurring. We had the opportunity to meet with recently “assimilated” arrivals to Italy. It was a profound experience to connect with these refugees. The guarded stories of their experiences are still fresh in our minds.
A Night at the Garden/USA, 7 minutes
OH MY! Considered by some as “the best of the bunch” this film is shockingly different. Using archival footage, this film is a powerful reminder of historical events from Madison Square Garden in New York City, February 20, 1939, shortly before the beginning of WWII. Over 20,000 “Pro-American Patriots” gathered to cheer on Nazism and fascist ideology.
Europe was already in disarray. Adolf Hitler’s troops were already in the process of building concentration camps. The result is a riveting and revolting reflection on a dark event and the tumultuous politics of the time. Lest we forget.