2018 Oscar-Nominated Documentary Short Films Review

ShortsTV, the World’s Only Short Film Channel (www.shorts.tv), working with Magnolia Pictures, is currently showing “THE 2018 OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS” on more than 500 screens across the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and Australia. THE 2018 OSCARS NOMINATED SHORT FILMS will showcase the Live Action, Animation, and Documentary short-film nominees’ compilation as three separate theatrical events.

This marks the 13th consecutive year of the Oscar Nominated Short Films theatrical experience. It is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the short film nominees in theaters before the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4, 2018. The Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood and televised live on the ABC Television Network.

The nominees’ countries of origin range from the U.K, France and Germany to Kenya, Australia, and the U.S. This year the U.S. leads with the most shorts nominations (5 Documentary Short Film nominees, 2 Live Action Short Film nominees, and 2 Animated Short Film nominees). Furthermore, in the Documentary Short Film category, 3 of the films are directed by women, one of the Animated shorts nominees has a female co-Director, and 3 of the Live Action Short Film nominees were inspired by or based upon true stories.

This years Oscar-nominated short subject documentaries tackle themes of love, redemption, perseverance, purpose, mental faculty, race, addiction, and justice. And with only five films nominated it is evident that each one of these Oscar nominees does a lot with both their subject matter and their screen time.

Edith + Eddie (Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright, USA, 29 minutes)

This documentary follows the love story of Edith and Eddie, an interracial elderly couple who met while playing the lottery. Eddie who is 95 and Edith who is 96 (at the time of filming) fall in love at first sight and decide to marry. While their pastor and the most of Edith’s family is supportive of the union, Edith’s daughter Julie believes she knows what is best for her mother. The film follows Edith and Eddie as they try and stay together amid Julie’s insistence that Edith relocate to Florida with her and leave Eddie behind. This documentary is an interesting look at love, ageism, issues of race, and the rights of the elderly in the United States.

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (Frank Stiefel, USA, 40 minutes)

This film is a portrait of artist Mindy Alper who is known in the art world for her incredible paper mâché sculptures, drawings, and paintings. The audience meets Alper in the midst of preparing for a major gallery opening while struggling to create art, all while keeping her mental illness in check. Through a combination of live action and the animation of Alper’s own artwork throughout the film, Stiefel traces Alper’s life-long journey with creativity and mental illness and the effects that her parents had on in shaping both.

Traffic Stop (Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, USA, 31 minutes)

This documentary is HBO’s contribution to the category this year. This documentary is about the traffic stop that changed the life of 26-year-old schoolteacher Breaion King. After being pulled over by Officer Bryan Richter, what should have been a simple traffic stop quickly escalates into a case of police brutality and excess force which Richter attempts to justify. The film not only focuses on the horrible injustice King endured, but allows the audience to get to know King and her background. The film juxtaposes the dash-cam footage of that day in 2015 against King as a well-rounded and educated woman who skin color clearly mattered more than her character on the day of her traffic stop.

Heroin(e) (Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon, USA, 39 minutes) This documentary is Netflix’s contribution to the short documentary category this year. The media giant won last year’s Oscar in this category with their look at The White Helmets. This year’s entry, Heroin(e), examines the heroin epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia where overdoses are a daily occurrence. The filmmakers follow heroines in the community who are working to change this new norm and free people from addiction. Fire Chief Jan Rader, Judge Patricia Keller who runs Drug Court, and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministries (that takes to the streets to deliver food to prostitutes, addicts, and the homeless) are three women who are working to save lives and to take back their town from the deadly grips of addiction and the opium epidemic.

Knife Skills (Thomas Lennon, USA, 40 minutes) This documentary film is about Edwin’s Restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio which is home to the Edwin’s Leadership and Restaurant Institute. The institute is focused on the training, employment, and development of men and women who have recently been released from prison. This documentary follows the inaugural class of the institute and the opening of Edwin’s. Knife Skills is a film that examines life after prison and how important it is for these men and women to be given second chances, find purpose, and hopefully experience redemption.

All five films are definitely worth watching, and have clearly earned their Oscar nominations. However, I believe that Traffic Stop will take home the golden statue this year. King’s story and the footage of her stop and arrest are not only jarring, this documentary sheds light on the institutionalized racism and police brutality that continually takes the lives of people of color in this country. This documentary also challenges the audience to think about the long history of white men in power claiming control and ownership over the bodies of black women.

Darcy Staniforth

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