Friday, February 8, 2013

Oscar-Nominated Documentary Short Subject

Spike and I went to the OKCMOA (Oklahoma City Museum of Art) last night to watch the Oscar-nominated short documentaries. I was under the impression that short meant 20 minutes or less. When the gentleman announcing the names of the nominees informed us that a short actually meant 40 minutes or less and that most of them hit close to the 40 minute mark I quickly turned to Spike and mouthed, “I’M SO SORRY!!!”. Yes, you can mouth things loudly. It’s true. So, even [now] knowing that we were going to be there a while, we settled in for a long evening of documentaries and, except for one, we were glad we did.

Let me take a moment to say that any opinions in this post, unless otherwise stated, are mine alone. I wasn’t happy at all with the time wasted spent on one of the films and some people may feel that my ranking of the films is all wrong. This is how it affected me last night and I’m sticking to it. Following is the list of nominees based on how much I liked them. I had trouble with the last two because they both brought forth a lot of emotion but I ultimately went with the one that struck closer to home.

5) Kings Point (40 min.)

This was a documentary about retirees who’ve moved from New York to Florida. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this. It was like high school but with retirees. There was pettiness, gossiping, cheating, etc. In one instance, a man mentions that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life with the woman he lives with because she’s older than he is and he’s already buried a wife. He wants a younger woman so that someone can bury him. Listening to the things he was saying, I wanted to bury him. I don’t know. Maybe since I’m not in this situation I couldn’t get in to it but I really didn’t see the point. I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to see Kings Point unless it was at a showing such as the one last night. Having said that, it’ll probably take home the award.

Go to the official site here

4) Redemption (35 Min.)

Nope. Not THAT kind of redemption. This showed the lives of New Yorkers who survive solely on Canning; collecting cans, plastic and glass bottles and redeeming them for money at recycle centers. Granted, if you’re going to make your living that way it’s a good city in which to do it considering the population and the amount of recyclables that are thrown out with the garbage. This is a full-time job and if you skip a day, you don’t eat…or drink, as the case may be. This was an okay documentary. I felt like it could have been filmed better. They lost me a few times but held my attention for the most part. It did make me rethink all the things I take for granted, i.e. going to the movies or eating at a restaurant. Once again, this was okay to be seen with the other nominees but I don’t think I’d make the effort otherwise.

I had a bit of trouble finding an official site.

3) Inocente (40 Min.)

This documentary was another reminder of how good I have it despite wishing I had money for better clothes, a nicer car and super nice vacations. This told about Inocente, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been homeless since she was six. She, her mom and her brothers have had places to stay but never for more than three months at a time. She “escapes” this life through painting. I wish I could throw out all kinds of adjectives to describe the paintings but I will never EVER be an art critic. I know what I like and that’s the best I can say about any one piece. I did like her work even though I would never own any of it myself. It’s just not my style. Inocente narrates her story and I liked it all the better for that.

The main thing that bothered me about this story is that she (and her family) is an “undocumented immigrant”. I wonder if her family would still be homeless if they didn’t have to face the constant fear of being deported. This makes me want to do some more research on exactly how difficult it is to become a “documented immigrant”. Aside from that, I might be tempted to go to a showing of this film on its own. I liked how it was filmed though I had my moments in which I wanted the film crew to drive her to wherever she was walking. Yes, that would have taken away from the realness of it but still. I especially loved the dream scene. Something about the way it was filmed really caught me. I want a still picture of it.

In an aside, Spike mentioned that he thinks [non-poverty stricken] children should watch this film to see what it’s like for those not as fortunate. Neither one of us could decide at what age this would be beneficial but I agree that maybe it would help kids rethink things they “just have to have”. I’d like to think it might.

Go the official site here

2) Open Heart (40 Min.?)

Please don’t judge me for putting this second. Maybe it’s my own vanity. You’ll understand more on that when you read my pick for the award. Anyway, Open Heart is about 8 Rwandan children with heart defects who need surgery but whose family cannot afford it. In order to get the operations they so desperately need they are flown to a Sudanese hospital that performs the surgeries at no cost to the patients or their families. You may be thinking, “Wow! That’s awesome!” And it is. The drawback is, the families cannot accompany their children. They have to put them on a plane in hopes that they’ll return. I’m hoping I misunderstood but at one point I thought the doctor said that if something happened and any of the children die, their bodies would not be returning. Please say I’m wrong about that.

While this is about 8 children, the main 2 that it focused on were Angelique, age 6 and Marie, age 17. I know this trip couldn’t have been comfortable for Marie but I can’t imagine what it had to have been like for Angelique; 6 years old and having to leave her dad behind and put her life and trust in the hands of complete strangers. Well, except for the doctor. Marie ended up having the most difficulty and I admit to having cried with her.

Also mentioned in the documentary is where they receive the money for the surgeries. 75% is gained through donations while the remaining 25% is provided by the Sudanese government and, according to the film, Sudanese currency isn’t doing so well these days. I hope the hospital continues to get the funds to be able to take care of these children. I really liked this documentary and would recommend it to just about anyone. They do show one of the surgeries but it wasn’t really bad at all and I’m a turn-your-head-away-during-TV-show-surgeries kind of a girl.

Go to the official site here

1) Mondays at Racine (39 Min.)

This was my favorite of all the documentaries. Mondays at Racine tells the story of cancer patients who are treated to a free day at the Racine salon in Long Island. While the title leads you to believe it’s about the salon, this film focuses mainly on the women affected. Of those women, it most closely follows Cambria and Linda; both breast cancer patients. When we meet Cambria she is dealing with the loss of her hair. She doesn’t want to shave her head because she’ll have to finally admit to having cancer. While she is in the chair getting shaved I cried with her. I couldn’t help it. And I can’t explain it. There are wigs out there to cover the bald but it’s just not the same. One woman in particular showed us her fear of what her husband would think of her bald head. I sobbed. I wasn’t the only one though. There were plenty of sniffles to be heard.

Mondays at Racine goes beyond just the loss of hair. We went home with Cambria and Linda and saw how their illness affected their daily lives. Cambria and her husband were trying to adopt a young boy while Linda was dealing with a husband who just couldn’t be there for her. I felt their heart breaks if only on a small level. So, despite the fact that it, on the surface, seems to be about their hair loss, this goes so much farther.

The film was very well done. It pulled me in and kept me through the final credits. I wept with Cambria as she lost her hair and received not-so-comforting news about the adoption. I hurt for Linda when she made a major decision about her home life and I was at the salon for the hat modeling and the head shaving. I strongly encourage everyone to go watch Mondays at Racine. As soon as it was over I texted my sister that this is something she needs to see. She runs a salon and is a CNA and I could picture this becoming a part of her life. The sisters who run Racine are doing a great thing. Their story is an inspiring one. I really want this documentary to win. Here’s hoping!

Go to the official site here here.

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