Isn’t it frustrating to look at the list of Academy Award nominees for Best Short Film and have no idea which to root for, because you’ve never seen any of them? Voting members of the Academy get invitations to special screenings, but regular zhlubs like you and me have to shift for ourselves if we want to be well-informed Oscar Night partisans.
Luckily, some of our small, independent local cinemas are kind enough to come to our rescue. There are three programs of 2013 Oscar-nominated short films currently in distribution: one each for the three categories of Animated, Live Action and Documentary. Upstate Films has been showing them at its Woodstock venue this past week, and they’ll be coming to the Rosendale Theatre on Saturdays, February 16 and 23 and Sunday, February 24.
The program of Best Short Documentary nominees is the longest, at 3 hours and 20 minutes, so it’s broken up into two halves with an intermission. It will be shown at the Rosendale at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 23 and 24.
The docs, all by US filmmakers, begin with Sari Gilman’s Kings Point, which deals with the longing for human connection among the “old old”: retirees in a Florida resort community who have outlived their spouses and their health. Cynthia Wade’s Mondays at Racine pays a visit to a pair of Long Island sisters who make their beauty salon available free of charge to women who are undergoing chemotherapy. Inocente by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix is about a homeless 15-year-old girl: an undocumented immigrant who dreams of becoming an artist.
Following the break comes Redemption, a study of the “poor but proud New Yorkers” whose survival depends on dumpster-diving for redeemable beverage cans and bottles. It was made by a formidable pair of documentarians: Downtown Community Television Center founder Jon Alpert, who has won 15 Emmys in his long career, and Matthew O’Neill, who has collaborated with Alpert on such works as HBO’s Baghdad ER and China’s Unnatural Disaster. Rounding out the program is Kief Davidson’s Open Heart, about eight Rwandan children in desperate need of heart surgery and the cardiologist and surgeon who battle the lack of both funds and political will to provide it to them in Sudan.