(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, April 16, 2021

Short Cuts 2021, Part 3: Oscar's Documentary Short Subject Nominees

For the 16th year, ShortsTV presents this year's Academy Award nominated animated, live action and documentary short films now playing in select theaters as well as digitally (watch the trailer here). These special programs are usually the only way for most movie fans to see all of these otherwise illusive short film nominees that can make or break your office Oscar pool. In the last of three parts, Movie Dearest takes a look at this year's five nominees for Best Documentary Short Subjects.

Suppression, whether of race, religion and/or class, is the focus of all of this year's predominately all-American documentary short finalists; even the one "happy" nominee deals with the issue of race in the United States.

And the nominees are...

Colette, Anthony Giacchino & Alice Doyard (USA, 25 minutes), trailer.

Colette Marin-Catherine, a member of the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, visits for the first time the concentration camp where her brother died. It's been some time since we've had a Holocaust-themed contender here, and appreciation for this one will depend on one's take on its outspoken, often acerbic subject.

Oscar Connection: Anthony Giacchino is the brother of film composer Michael Giacchino, who won an Oscar for his score for Pixar's Up.

MD Rating: 6/10

A Concerto Is A Conversation, Ben Proudfoot & Kris Bowers (USA, 14 minutes), trailer.

While preparing for the concert debut of his latest work, composer Kris Bowers sits down with his 91-year-old grandfather to learn more about his family's history. You'll not meet a more congenial storyteller than Horace Bowers, Sr., and this small gem of a film elicits joyful inspiration from the humble journey of his life.

Oscar Connection: Kris Bowers composed the score for Best Picture winner Green Book as well as another film nominated this year, The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

MD Rating: 8/10

Do Not Split, Anders Hammer & Charlotte Cook (USA/Norway, 36 minutes), trailer.

Protests erupt on the streets of Hong Kong following the introduction of a controversial extradition bill in 2019. After an unprecedented year for America that saw plenty of its own widely-televised protests, over such issues as systemic racism and police brutality, its hard to get too worked up over this, although China sure is.

Oscar Connection: Charlotte Cook was an executive producer on two previous nominees in this category, A Night in the Garden and In the Absence.

MD Rating: 6/10

Hunger Ward, Skye Fitzgerald & Michael Scheuerman (USA, 40 minutes), trailer.

Inside two health clinics in war-torn Yemen, Dr. Aida Alsadeeq and nurse Mekkia Mahdi struggle to save the lives of children literally starving to death. With its images of emaciation and mortality, this is easily the toughest watch this year, but its unblinking eye illuminates the staggering horrors of famine happening in the world right now.

Oscar Connection: Out of all the filmmakers nominated for short films this year in all three categories, Skye Fitzgerald is the only one who has been nominated before, for the 2018 documentary short Lifeboat.

MD Rating: 7/10

A Love Song for Latasha, Sophia Nahli Allison & Janice Duncan (USA, 19 minutes), trailer.

The all-too short life of Latasha Harlins, senselessly murdered in 1991 at age 15 in South Central Los Angeles by a convenience store owner who thought she was shop-lifting, is reflected upon in the memories of those who loved her. An artful, unconventional portrait of a promise unfulfilled, justice unserved, and the subsequent uprising it fueled.

Oscar Connection: A Love Song for Latasha is the seventh Netflix documentary short to be Oscar nominated. 2016's The White Helmets and 2018's Period. End of Sentence won the award.

MD Rating: 7/10

Coming soon: A Movie Dearest annual tradition: "If We Picked the Oscars".

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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