For some reason, I have always been a big fan of documentaries. I find them extremely entertaining, sometimes even more than regular movies. Documentaries captivate you and always leave you with something new and valuable. This year’s Oscars Nominated Short Documentaries introduced us to new issues and provided us with new ideas, each in their own unique way.
Body Team 12 by David Darg and Bryn Mooser narrates the day to day struggle a special team in Liberia, also known as Body Team 12, has to go through in order to fight the Ebola outbreak in their area. The seriousness, sensibility, and reality of their situation is admirable but heartbreaking. While in this film, words are unnecessary to explain this, the few spoken sentences are repetitive and uninformative about the disease the team is dealing with.
Undoubtedly my favorite short documentary, Chau, Beyond the Lines, is the story of a teenager disabled by Agent Orange, a chemical used by the U.S. in the Vietnam War. Directed by Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck, the film introduces us to a problem very much foreign to this side of the world. However, amidst what seems just sickness, there are dreams and hopes, and that is what this film shows us through the eyes of Chau.
Claude Lanzman: Spectres of the Shoah by Adam Benzine is the only short documentary that seems out of place, and by that I mean that it’s not on par with the others. First, it is a documentary about the creation of another documentary. Second, it seems incomplete. Although the film explores the creation of the revolutionary documentary, Shoah, it fails to show the struggle in creating it, as well as resonate its true importance in only 40 minutes.
The most controversial of all, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is the story of a young woman in Pakistan that gets married without her father’s consent and is assaulted and left to die due to this. Director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy portrays the horrible reality of the ‘honor’ killings in Pakistan, explaining everything from the causes to the unfair community pressure that exists in making decisions that leave women as second-rate citizens.
Last Day of Freedom by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman was the most unique documentary of all. It is the story of a man who supported the death penalty, until his own brother, a veteran who suffered from mental illness, was condemned. Animated in a beautiful and clever way, this documentary explains the real issue with the death penalty and how it should never be an option.
The beauty of documentaries is how they introduce you to foreign issues and realities, things that you are lucky enough to only experience through these mediums. However, they should be an eye-opener for many, and this is what this year’s documentaries achieve. While only one is taking the Oscar this year, all of them are winners. It is not easy to make a film this powerful about something so relevant in today’s society and leave unscathed.