April 8th, 2021

overthehedge

Oscar-Nominated Shorts - Documentary

This category is usually a challenge. You have 5 films each clocking in at about 30-40 minutes, making it a potential 3-hour filmfest. Even in the theater they usually added an intermission to break things up. We were going to split it up over 2 nights ourselves, but once we got going, we decided to slog on and watch all 5.

"A Love Song for Latasha" - Just. Terrible. I will say this time and time again in this new era of "woke" Hollywood. Just because a movie is about black people doesn't automatically make it good and worthy of my attention. Two black girls grow up in the ghettos of LA and one ends up shot. It's tragic, but it's an everyday occurrence. This film just adds to the narrative that black folk are violent. And if you're going to tell this tired tale, at least have cinematography that doesn't suck so much.

"Do Not Split" - A narrative about the protests in Hong Kong during 2019. On the one paw it was interesting because you see what went on in a more unfiltered look as opposed to the nightly news. On the other paw it is more like a news story as opposed to a true documentary. It seems like there is one documentary like this every year. The images are compelling, but it's not really put together in a cohesive story.

"Hunger Ward" - The day-to-day struggles of a hospital in Yemen as malnourished children are brought in. This is another case of being confronted with heartbreaking images and a tragic story, but does it make a good film? It's just a collection of stories from a place of horrible circumstances. The story should be known, but it's not a great documentary.

"Colette" - When I first heard "concentration camp" in the first few seconds I cringed because here comes another Jewish movie about the Holocaust, (a seemingly yearly staple). But this was actually about a woman trying to find out about her brother who was part of the French Resistance who was captured and forced to work in a secret factory which manufactured the V2 rocket. Overall the story is the same as all movies about German atrocities. What I don't get is how a woman is so traumatized by events that happened 80 years ago, and they didn't even happen to her. I guess some people grieve in vastly different ways. So overall it was a good movie. If this were the last one, it might have had a shot. Fortunately there was one more.

"A Concerto is a Conversation" - My pick for winner. Back to my earlier statement. It's good to make movies that feature black people when the story is interesting, it is well done, and has a positive message. A composer, who has worked on several movies, writes a concerto to honor his grandfather who fled the segregationist South and established himself as a businessman in LA. He helped his grandson achieve success as a professional musician. It was really everything a documentary should be.