Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 2010 Oscar Nominated Shorts-Documentary

These were the hardest of the shorts to find as there were no comprehensive screenings in the greater Cleveland area. I saw one On Demand, three at the Cleveland International Film Festival, and one shows no signs of playing around here anytime soon. Even though I don't understand why the Academy nominates films most of us can't see, it was fun seeking these shorts out.
China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears Of The Sichuan Province
Short film documents the aftermath of an Earthquake in a rural province in China that claimed the lives of 70,000 people, 10,000 of which were children. The film focuses on the lost children and the effect on the parents which is given more resonance considering China's one child law and the fact that most people were burying their only child. The film then goes on to explore government corruption. Successful as a short but even begins to drag at 38 minutes. Still it is an important story that I don't recall hearing about in the news. ***
Music By Prudence
This is the one that ended up winning the Oscar and it is truly a wonderful short. It tells the story of Prudence, a young girl with a crippling bone disease who says she will never see her dream of independence come true unless she leaves Zimbabwe. But this isn't a weeper about hardships. Rather it is about overcoming those hardships and the celebration of human life of all kinds. We are shown Prudence's concert and it is truly wonderful music. ***1/2
The Last Campaign Of Governor Booth Gardner
The Last Campaign is a well made short about the former and immensely popular governor of Washington Booth Gardner. He is now suffering from Parkinson's and fears the ugly latter stages of the disease he faces. Gardner attaches himself to an initiative that would allow assisted suicide in Washington. The film also shows some members of the opposition. Though this is a tough issue and I may not agree with the side this film favors, it must be regarded objectively as a short. ***
The Last Truck: Closing Of A GM Plant 
The Last Truck is a beautiful story about the bonds shared among workers at a GM plant in Ohio, and how they were broken when it was shut down. Short actually follows the last weeks of the plant and we meet many of the workers who are out of work and have to "reinvent" themselves in a modern society. Truly touching film makes it hard to hold back the tears when grown women and men are seen crying over their dour prospects. ****
Rabbit A La Berlin
This is the story of the forgotten victims of the Cold War: the bunnies who lived in no man's land between East and West Berlin. The short features superb footage in what is an alternately dull and silly documentation. ***