Five Packets of Enlightenment(88th Oscar Nominated Documentaries)
To say this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Shorts are life affirming isn’t to say they’re easy to take. Most people’s lives travel nowhere close to the extremes depicted. Film offers an incomparable opportunity to spend a couple hours in the dark safely cushioned by packets of enlightenment. Feel something of what the people in these non-fiction stories feel; understand something of realities lived not so far from home as we let ourselves believe.
Body Team 12 (13 minutes): In Liberia (2014-15), Ebola spread. Thousands died. Local teams did what had to be done. Among other things, they carefully, caringly, removed dead bodies. A son says of his mom -- the only female on “Body Team 12” -- that she is an Ebola hero who wants a good life and a good country for him.
Chau, Beyond the Lines (34 minutes): In Vietnam, a young man – Chau – lives the legacy of the wartime use of Agent Orange. It’s hard watching him and others express “normal” with severely deformed bodies. Chau dreams of earning his own way, ever improving across painstaking years of persistence, to become an artist and designer.
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (40 minutes): In Pakistan, still, a thousand women each year are “honor” killed. A father shoots his daughter, who dared to run away to marry a man her family disapproved. Thrown in the river, somehow she survived. Religious faith leaves it to culture, not law, to settle her survival.
Last Day of Freedom (32 minutes): In California, a man seen only as a simply animated drawing, narrates the story of decades of helping – hoping -- to shepherd his brother through his troubled life. Through learning and social disabilities, through mental illness, eventually there was only one place his brother could be served.
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah (40 minutes): Recent world history knows many holocausts. One serves as capital The Holocaust, the designated one we must never forget. In 1985, Claude Lanzmann released the 9-plus hour documentary, “Shoah,” which means The Holocaust. This documentary short remembers the remembrance and the rememberer.