Hot Ticket

Ra Paulette, Academy Award, documentary, Cave DiggerImpossible to view and practically ignored a few years ago, the Oscar-nominated short films have become one of the hottest tickets around. Last night I saw the documentary shorts and later today will see the live action shorts. These viewings are courtesy of the Trenton Film Society, which shows the films at the intimate Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton. (The festival also offers the nominees in the animation category.)

In recent years the short films have become available through Netflix and other resources, but I like the Big Screen—well, the Bigger Screen—at the Playhouse.

Only one overworked word describes the five documentary shorts: Awesome.

  • A 109-year-old Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer (obituary, 2/27/14), who played the piano in Theresienstadt and was still playing at the time of filming, who says, “I love people” (The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life).
  • A gay man, nearly beaten to death as a teenager, becomes acquainted with the former skinhead who was one of his attackers (Facing Fear)
  • The Yemeni protests that turned violent and led to the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, seen through the eyes of youthful cameramen (Karama Has No Walls)
  • Unlikely artist, Ra Paulette, working alone and by hand carves magical caves out of soft New Mexico sandstone (Cave Digger)
  • The last days and death of convicted murderer Jack Hall in the loving care of inmate volunteers in an Iowa prison hospice (Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall)

Real people doing amazing things. Truly awesome.