OSCAR DOCUMENTARY SHORTS (2011)


One of them, God is the Bigger Elvis, was not included in the program due to rights issues. All were of downbeat subjects ending with a ray of hope. To no surprise it was a mixed bag of success, though I very much liked two and felt lukewarm about the remainder. On the tepid side: The Barber of Birmingham, about a barber in Birmingham (big surprise) who lived through the civil rights movements up to Obama’s election, is a familiar story told in a rather familiar manner. The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom had some terrifying pictures of the recent Japanese tsunami, but the story seemed a bit lethargic. More successful were Incident in Baghdad, a story about a former marine coming to terms with a controversial shooting in Iraq in which he helped rescue two children, and Saving Face, about the terrifying practice of men in Pakistan throwing acid in women’s faces as punishment (or just plain cruelty). The last two were often difficult to watch, but were emotionally powerful and deeply moving and yes, ending in a ray of hope. I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to us and of the four, we suspect Saving Face may win the Academy Award, but one never knows and we didn’t see the fifth.

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