Five 2021 Academy Award Nominated Short Films (DOCUMENTARY)
“Colette”: As a young teen, Colette Marin-Catherine joined in her family’s new “business”: the French Resistance. The film follows the now-90-year-old as she and a young history student make a first pilgrimage to the Nazi concentration camp where Marin-Catherine’s brother died. “Colette” vividly depicts the instant bond between the two sojourners and the almost unbearable weight of visiting a place where acts of unspeakable evil occurred.
“A Concerto Is a Conversation”: Parallels the debut of rising-star composer Kris Bowers’ concerto “For a Younger Self” at Disney Hall with a conversation between him and his grandfather, Horace Bowers. Using techniques similar to Errol Morris’, allowing people talking with each other to directly address the camera, the film lets us into a private-feeling chat shining a light into Horace’s remarkable life and how he has influenced his successful grandson. It’s unusually intimate, the principal takeaway being the deep love between its two subjects.
“Do Not Split”: A harrowing view from inside the pro-democracy protests still roiling Hong Kong, with footage from within the crowds as they face down fully outfitted riot police while the protesters have little more than masks and umbrellas. There are firebombs thrown, tear gas launched and innocents caught in the crossfire. Most of all, there are students and average citizens facing down an existential threat to their democracy. In response, the Chinese government has reportedly ordered local media to not carry the Oscars live.
“Hunger Ward”: Goes beyond news reports of war and famine in Yemen to look unflinchingly at the resulting suffering, and even death, of young children. It’s rough. The film suffers from a slightly diffused focus but is the kind of old-school documentary reporting designed to make viewers connect viscerally to the human fallout of war, rather than just shake their heads at the news.
“A Love Song for Latasha”: The 1991 killing of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins left scars on Los Angeles, including helping fuel the L.A. riots a year later. Director Sophia Nahli Allison spends little time on the crime, instead crafting a poetic portrait of the girl through stories told by her loved ones and subjective cinematic techniques such as abstract animation, video effects and stand-ins.