The Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject is typically a complex one.
The films contending for this year’s award consist of intimate romance set versus the background of ballroom dance, national tragedies, and handling life in a war-torn nation. While this classification has actually garnered a little an unfair track record as a downer in the past, even that doesn’t rather cover the emotional area of this year’s nominees. While they each have plenty to state about essential subjects, there’s enough hope and delight combined into the candidates to make the whole slate well-worth watching.
The nominees for Best Documentary Short Subject will be in select theaters beginning on Jan.29 If you can’t make it to one of those screenings– or desire to understand what you’re getting yourself into– we have actually gathered all the candidates right here.
For more on Oscar-nominated shorts, inspect our round-ups of the live-action and animated nominees.
In the Absence
29 minutes, Directed by Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam
What it has to do with: In 2014, the Sewol ferry in South Korea unfortunately sank. A combination of inactiveness and bad choice making resulted in the deaths of over 300 guests– a bulk of which were students.
Why it may win: In the Absence is informed through on-screen text and numerous phone calls from both victims on the ferryboat and the federal government and emergency situation responders attempting to exercise what to do. It’s a perfectly made doc that checks out the stories of victims and the families with unbelievable and affecting empathy. The doc likewise draws the catastrophe into the larger political context of South Korea’s enormous demonstrations against the president– though it deserves keeping in mind that the ferryboat event only played a bit part in the protests in general– linking it to one of the most unforgettable worldwide events of the last a number of years.
Why it might not win: The victim call can make In the Absence a difficult watch. While the Academy hasn’t avoided sad movies in this classification in the past, however it often helps to at least have an uplifting ending, something In the Lack certainly doesn’t have.
St. Louis Superman
28 minutes, Directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
What it’s about: Bruce Franks Jr. is a member of the Missouri Legislature, an activist, and a fight rapper, committed to stopping youth violence in St. Louis. St. Louis Superman follows Franks as he tries to pass an expense stating youth violence a public health epidemic and commemorating his late sibling, a victim of gun violence at simply nine-years-old.
Why it may win: St. Louis Superman‘s strongest qualities come from 2 incredible moments.
Why it may not win: St. Louis Superman ends by letting us understand that Franks resigned in 2019 for psychological health reasons. This reality includes extremely little forewarning or context, and it’s tough not to feel like we missed something. The movie hardly ever offers us an insight into how Franks is feeling, and the closing message makes it clear that this process was more difficult for him than the documentary made it seem. On top of that, this is a classification where the Academy frequently prefers global subjects, which might harm this extremely US-focused documentary.
Life Overtakes Me
40 minutes, Directed By John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
What it’s about: Hundreds of refugee children in Sweden are developing a condition known as Resignation Syndrome. The condition leaves them in an almost-comatose state, however there’s no solid explanation behind why it takes place. The best explanation is that it’s caused by the anguish, fear, and unpredictability of their lives.
Why it might win: The worldwide refugee crisis and the migrants impacted by it have been the topic of lots of current entrants in this Oscars category. Though they have not often won, few have actually been so specific in their focus as Life Surpasses Me This doc prefers a personal method to talking about the difficulty of these refugees’ lives in Sweden, focusing on their battle to take care of their comatose kids. Life Surpasses Me is also the only Netflix documentary on the list, which indicates that it will likely have a more powerful push behind it than other entrants.
Why it may not win: Life Overtakes Me may experience not focusing more on the bigger refugee problems. It’s also incredibly sad, and ends by letting us know that the problem is just growing, raising even more questions than it in fact responded to.
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Lady)
40 minutes, Directed By Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva
What it has to do with: There’s a school in Afghanistan called Skateistan. The school helps teach kids, specifically girls, standard abilities– like reading, writing, and math– as well as skateboarding, all of which are activities women are prevented from in the country.
Why it may win: Knowing to Skateboard is incredibly uplifting. It effectively balances the plight of girls in Afghanistan and the struggles that they can deal with in a conservative and patriarchal society, with the hope that things like education and skateboarding can provide them. Even when the teachers explain the windows of the school being blown out by a surge, it’s difficult not to feel the undercurrent of hope that things could gradually be changing, which may supply an upper hand in a year of otherwise primarily bleak candidates.
Why it may not win: If anything is going to hold Knowing to Skateboard back, it’s the film’s narrow focus. For most of its 40- minute run time it never wanders off from Skatistan for long. While the scenes inside the school, seeing the kids attempt skateboarding for the first time, it’s difficult not to wonder what’s going on outside its walls, and about the lives of women who aren’t fortunate enough to attend.
Stroll Run Cha-Cha
20 minutes, Directed by Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt
What it’s about: A middle-aged Vietnamese couple who were separated by the Vietnam War rehearse for a ballroom dance efficiency.
Why it may win: Stroll Run Cha-Cha is effusively joyful. Even its brief dips into the couple’s separation results in a pleased ending when they reunite in Los Angeles. Each moment of their story is punctuated by scenes of them learning a ballroom regimen that’s beautifully carried out at the end. If this year’s Finest Documentary Brief Topic Oscar is decided by which movie makes the voters feel the best, this is a lock.
Why it may not win: Its lightness could be a double-edged sword. With numerous laden and capital-I-Important topics swirling around the classification, it might be hard for voters to justify fulfilling what totals up to a really sweet story.