In recent years the wife and I have made an effort to see as many Oscar nominated films as possible, including the shorts. This year we saw the short subject documentaries for the first time. If this is an option in your town go see it. Fill your pockets with candy. Buy some popcorn. Settle in.

In case you don’t get a chance (or maybe to start a conversation if you do) here are my mini reviews:

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

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Going into a film about a Holocaust survivor, one expects tears. This documentary however, delivers those tears on more than one level. At 110, Alice Herz Sommer is the world’s oldest living Holocaust survivor. She and her son lived through the war due in large part to Alice’s skill as a pianist. If you’ve read Victor Frankl’s memoir Man’s Search for Meaning or you just want a dose of positivity you’ll dig this uplifting film.

Karama Has No Walls

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Shot during the early days of Yemen’s 2011 student uprising, this film shook me to my core. A peaceful protest turns violent yet the protestors, students and journalist don’t flee. They walk towards the violence. They bare their chests and carry away the wounded. This is a revolution.

Cave Digger

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Ra Paulette is republican nightmare (or wet dream). He is an archetypal hippie. He makes his living, however meager, as an artist whose art is digging caves into the malleable sandstone of the New Mexico desert. Something about this man rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t quite pin it down. Though the caves are indeed beautiful, my official review is, meh.

Facing Fear

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Conceptually powerful, this film reaches for a lot. Twenty years ago a group of neo-Nazi teens nearly beat to death a young gay hustler in LA. Now, one of those teens is a former neo-Nazi and that hustler has gone legit. They both work at the Forgiveness Museum in LA. They present to groups on how they have grown into the people they are now. It seems like both men know what they are supposed to say, hell maybe they even know what they will say in few years. I’m just not sure how honest it is yet.

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

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More than twenty years ago, Jack Hall, a veteran of WWII, killed a man. He would spend the rest of his life in prison for that murder. This film catalogs his last days in one of the nation’s only prison hospices. Emotions are raw. Edges are unhewn. I fucking loved this documentary. That’s all I have to say.

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