Academy Award-Nominated Documentary Short Films 2012
Friday, February 10 - Thursday, March 1, 2012
Four of the five Academy Award nominees for this year’s Best Documentary Short Film category — including portraits of post-tsunami Japan, Iraq War journalists, women’s rights in Pakistan, and a foot soldier for civil rights.
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (39 min., Japan/USA, Lucy Walker)
Survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins.
Incident in New Baghdad (25 min., USA, James Spione)
One of the most notorious incidents of the Iraq War – the July 2007 slayings of two Reuters journalists and a number of other unarmed civilians by US attack helicopters – is recounted in the powerful testimony of an American infantryman whose life was profoundly changed by his experiences on the scene. US Army Specialist Ethan McCord bore witness to the devastating carnage, found and rescued two children caught in the crossfire, and soon turned against the war that he had enthusiastically joined only months before. Denied psychological treatment in Iraq for his PTSD, McCord returned home, struggling for years with anger, confusion, and guilt over the war. When WikiLeaks released the stunning cockpit video of the incident, McCord was finally spurred into action, and began traveling the country, speaking out for the rights of PTSD sufferers against the American wars in the Middle East.
Saving Face (40 min., Pakistan/USA, Daniel Junge, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy)
Every year hundreds of people — mostly women — are attacked with acid in Pakistan. The HBO Documentary SAVING FACE, which premiers March 8 at 8:30 PM PT, follows several of these survivors, their fight for justice, and a Pakistani plastic surgeon who has returned to his homeland to help them restore their faces and their lives.
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement (25 min., USA, Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday)
Mr. James Armstrong is a barber, a “foot soldier” and a dreamer whose barbershop in Birmingham, Alabama has been a hub for haircuts and civil rights since 1955. “The dream” of a promised land, where dignity and the right to vote belongs to everyone is documented in photos, headlines and clippings that cram every inch of wall space (and between the mirrors). 85-years-young, jauntily wearing a bowtie and suspenders, Mr. Armstrong will cut your hair while recounting his experiences as a “foot soldier”, citing the pictures on his wall as he does. In March 1965, civil rights activists began a march from Selma to Montgomery calling for voting rights. Mr. Armstrong, an Army Veteran, was the proud bearer of the American flag in that march, and it’s said that even as state troopers tear-gassed the crowd and beat marchers with billy clubs, he held the flag high. On the annual commemoration of Bloody Sunday he carries that flag. He used his barber chair to educate: “If you want a voice, you have to vote; you can’t complain about nothing if you don’t vote.” Despite threats to his life and home, his two sons were the first to integrate an all white elementary school. “Dying isn’t the worst thing a man can do. The worst thing a man can do is nothing.” No one can accuse Mr. Armstrong of doing nothing; and on the eve of the election of the first African-American president, THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM sees his unimaginable dream come true.
God Is the Bigger Elvis, also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, is unfortunately not able to be shown in theaters due to licensing restrictions.NR, 130 Minutes