When cartoonist/illustrator/story teller Don Hertzfeldt spoke at Texas Theatre last Friday, he mentioned what he likes to watch at film festivals. Surprisingly, it isn't other animated shorts or even feature buzz-heavy full-lengths; he watches the documentaries. His logic was sound: "You realize that if you watch a feature film and it turns out to be terrible, you've wasted an entire evening. If you watched documentaries, at least you've learned something."
Tonight Texas Theatre is giving you a quick education in this year's Academy nominated documentary shorts, and with each measuring in at roughly 30 minutes you'll learn stuff without falling asleep and spilling your cocktail on yourself. (What? Those chairs are comfy.)
They're showing four of the five that have grabbed noms; let's take a quick peek at each.
This film is both crushing and beautiful in a nearly bipolar way. Initially focusing on footage of the tsunami washing over Japan and heartbreaking interviews with those who survived the devastation, we are then taken back to nature's most delicate side: The cherry blossom. Resilient as they are fleeting, the cherry blossoms stand firm and their buds pop open, draping down ribbons of delicate, short-lived pink blossoms in the aftermath of violence.Saving Face
This one is going to be a toughie. I'm not going to lie.Saving Face
tells of a terrifying form of abuse in Pakistan where men splash acid in women's faces leaving them melted, disfigured versions of their former facades. But the real story is about the healing and justice that follows when legislators and physicians begin to speak up for the women. Soon a small movement forms to preserve the dignity of the abused, give them back their physical identities and call bullshit on the dirtbags who performed the sins.Incident in New Baghdad
Remember when WikiLeaks set loose the video that collectively shamed us all? You know the one: American soldiers shooting innocent villagers and reporters from a helicopter like they're out hunting game with Rick Perry? Well, this is about that, and it's told from the point of view of one of the first soldiers on the scene. We see a system's flaws exposed and witness the suffering of lives lost when communication and organization are missing from the mission's dossier.The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
This year's short docs aren't all acid-in-the-face seat squirmers. In
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, we look at the life of the late James Armstrong, a life-long activist for civil rights who's watched the world change from his Alabama barbershop. Both an uplifting and rewarding watch, this film explains an older generation's struggle and what it took to get where we are today.
The whole run is slated for 130 minutes, broken up into four, easy-to-consume chunks. The series screens at 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, February 22 and tomorrow Thursday, February 23. Visit Texas Theatre for more details.