Oscar’s Documentary Faves

A real treat this weekend, viewing all the Oscar-nominated short films in the documentary and live action categories! The treat part was seeing such remarkable filmmaking, though the subject matter of the documentaries, described here, was, well, let’s just say, “tears were shed.” ♦ King’s Point will be grimly familiar to those who know South Florida’s senior communities. The residents’ acerbic observations drew knowing laughs, but the jury remains out as to whether this type of congregate living is really a good thing or a concession to society’s lack of better choices for the elderly. ♦ Most moving for me was Mondays at Racine, about two sisters who once a month provide free services in their hair salon for women with cancer. Having their heads shaved exquisitely focuses and concentrates the women’s sense of loss and despair; the powerful emotional counterweight is the support of the sisters and their “been there” clients. ♦ Have you noticed the growing number of NYC homeless collecting bottles and cans by the hundreds (5¢ each)? Redemption exposes the way of life—and the diversity—of Americans whose survival now depends on others’ trash. ♦ Open Heart is the story of eight Rwandan children who must leave their families to travel 2,500 miles for surgery at Africa’s only hospital providing high-risk cardiac care for free. Meanwhile, the Italian medical organization running the hospital must fight the Sudanese president for promised financial support. ♦ Last, and probably the cinematically strongest of the lot, with a nice story arc, is Inocente, a talented San Diego teen (pictured above) who dreams of becoming an artist—a goal made even harder to achieve because she also is undocumented and homeless. All five films introduce viewers to some remarkable people, well worth knowing.

And, yes, Inocente won, and it was great to see Inocente herself on stage with the winning team, as they called for more support for the arts and young artists.