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Peter T Chattaway

Oscars 2020: Best Documentary Short

Who WILL win?  

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The short list:

  • After Maria
  • Fire in Paradise
  • Ghosts of Sugar Land
  • In the Absence
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
  • Life Overtakes Me
  • The Nightcrawlers
  • St. Louis Superman
  • Stay Close
  • Walk Run Cha-Cha

The nominees will be announced January 13.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Some of the shortlisted documentaries are available in full online.

The New York Times has Stay Close and Walk Run Cha-Cha.

In the Absence and The Nightcrawlers are up on YouTube:

After MariaFire in Paradise, Ghosts of Sugar Land and Life Overtakes Me are on Netflix; here are their trailers:

And here is the trailer for Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone (If You're a Girl):

There is also a trailer for St. Louis Superman at this website, though it doesn't seem to be embeddable at A&F.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I've watched the eight films that are already online. They're all informative and interesting to one degree or another, but only half of them will get nominated, so if I had to pick which half of the eight films I saw got the nod, they would be (in alphabetical order)...

After Maria -- In which Puerto Rican families relocated to the US after Hurricane Maria face the end of their FEMA-funded hotel stays, which means they may now have to choose between living in a homeless shelter or moving back to an island with very little functioning infrastructure. Among other things, it touches on the trauma experienced by the children, which echoes the main theme of Life Overtakes Me, which concerns refugee children in Sweden who have entered a comatose-like state called Resignation Syndrome.

Fire in Paradise -- An account of the Camp Fire wildfire that swept through northern California last year, killing at least 85 people and forcing the evacuation of over 50,000. Some rather terrifying footage shot from within the cars driving through the flames.

In the Absence -- More dashcam footage of a disaster, in this case the sinking of a ferry in South Korea, which claimed the lives of hundreds of passengers, mainly schoolchildren. And this time there's the added element of government negligence *as the tragedy was unfolding*. (No one tried to evacuate the passengers, even after the captain left the boat, and even after the boat began turning upside-down.) If I read the subtitles correctly, it seems the president was even removed from her job *by the courts* as a result of this.

The Nightcrawlers -- Crass as he might be, has Donald Trump ever said "Fuck you" to the media while flipping them the bird? I don't *think* so, but the president of the Philippines has done that, and this short looks at how his strident war on drugs has encouraged some of his countrymen to murder people suspected of drug-dealing (or maybe even just drug-using?). The title refers to photojournalists who are trying to raise awareness of all this.

If I had to pick a fifth title, I might go with Walk, Run, Cha-Cha just for something with a little more uplift; it's about a Vietnamese couple who came to the US in the wake of the Vietnam War and, now, decades later, are taking dancing lessons together.

But I'm also intrigued by Ghosts of Sugar Land, which recounts how an African-American convert to Islam joined ISIS, mystifying and scaring his non-black Muslim friends back home; the friends claim that he was able to get away with extremist statements that they could *never* get away with, so they (or at least some of them) insist that they face more prejudice than African-Americans do, but of course there is some pushback against that claim.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Vote!

And of course, the two films on the shortlist that I *couldn't* find online both made it onto the final list of nominees. So now I have to track them down somehow!


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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