The nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards were announced on March 15. Every year, the Academy selects a group of films in three categories that are unique and rather disconnected from the other categories. That group of films are short films. A short film is one that is 40 minutes or less in its run time. Aside from TV and online channels, there isn’t much of a market or platform for short films. Short films used to play in theaters decades ago, but that ended by the 1960’s. It wasn’t until 2005 that a company decided to put short films back into movie theaters, particularly the short films that got Oscar nominations. Normally, five short films get nominated in the three categories. One of which is Documentary, Short Subject.
A Love Song for Latasha by Sophia Nahli Allison is essentially a eulogy for Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old African-American girl who was shot and killed by a Korean-American woman in March 1991. The eulogy is delivered by a friend of Latasha. We don’t see that friend initially. We only hear her voice. A young actress plays Latasha in re-creations of her childhood and friendship. Visual effects are used to simulate the look of VHS recordings. It’s an example of Black Lives Matter before that movement was named but that doesn’t get into the politics or legalities. It’s simply about honoring and humanizing this Black life in telling us who she was and how she loved and was loved. It’s the film that I feel should win in this category.
Do Not Split by Anders Hammer is about the 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests. A lot of it is on-the-ground video or footage where we are alongside the Hong Kong protesters. We’re told what the protesters are protesting but this film doesn’t really go into the debate. It’s just about depicting the on-the-ground action of the protesters crowded on the streets, screaming and yelling, throwing molotov cocktails, getting tear gassed by the police or other clashes.
Hungar Ward by Skye Fitzgerald is about the humanitarian crisis occurring in Yemen. Yemen is an Arab country and predominantly Muslim country that is bordered by Saudia Arabia to its north and the Indian Ocean to its south. Like Syria, Yemen is a Middle Eastern country that is also in the midst of a civil war. There have been several films about the Syrian Civil War like The White Helmets (2016) and Last Men in Aleppo (2017) that have focused on the first responders or medical workers trying to help those injured or affected as a result of the war. Fitzgerald’s film does the same thing. It focuses on those that work in hospitals or clinics in Yemen who are trying to help. Specifically, Fitzgerald’s film centers on female doctors and nurses who are treating children suffering from famine. If anything though, this film veered into the same territory as A Lion in the House (2006), an Emmy-winning, PBS documentary about a children’s hospital dealing with young patients suffering from cancer. It’s the same heart-wrenching and tear-inducing situation that really milks the pathos for all its worth but effectively shows the psychical effect that the war is inflicting.
Colette by Anthony Giacchino is about a 90-year-old, French woman who travels with a museum worker to visit the Nazi concentration camp where her brother died. It simply follows the older and young woman as both are emotionally moved by the journey. It also helps to enlighten or educate a little about the French Resistance that existed during the German occupation.
A Concerto Is a Conversation by Kris Bowers and Ben Proudfoot is about Bowers’ grandfather, as Bowers prepares for a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Bowers is a 30-something, African-American composer and pianist who works on the music for films and TV shows. His biggest claim-to-fame is his work on Green Book (2018), which won the Oscar for Best Picture and provided him the opportunity to go up on the Oscar stage. Ever since then, his career has rocketed and he’s worked on Emmy-winning projects like When They See Us (2019) and Mrs. America (2020). However, Bowers turns the camera on his grandfather, and his grandfather looks directly at the camera, as he tells his own story of how he overcame racism, going from homeless to business owner. It’s really an example of Black excellence and Black pride.
Not Rated but contains mature images and some language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 39 mins.
Playing in Rehoboth Beach and on ShortsTV.