I just sat through all five documentary shorts that are up for an Oscar on Sunday night. And, who would have thought, I learned a few things (thankfully).
Artistry and compulsive obsessive disorder are cousins if not siblings and can save you or kill you, much like madness and genius share a thin line.
People DO change, or they don’t; IF there’s enough at stake. Either way it will be a black or white affair. Where there’s not enough at stake – I still maintain that people do NOT change.
The power of the masses is as seductive as it was early last century in Europe. Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize Winner, published in 1960 “Masse und Macht” (Crowds and Power), a treatment on the power of crowds in Nazi Germany during Kristallnacht.
Interviewing successful documentary Filmmakers in between films as a palate cleanser does NOT work. Especially when you’re still blowing into your tissue from a death in prison hospice care you just witnessed in close up, to two filmmakers cheerily discussing how much fun it was to hold the Oscar Statuette… – that did NOT clean the palate.
What I saw in order:
- The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved my Life, Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
- Karama Has no Walls, Sara Ishaq
- Facing Fear, Jason Cohnen
- Cavedigger, Jeffrey Karoff
- Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall, Edgar Barens
Most powerful was the Lady in Number 6. Alice Herz-Sommer, a pianist of note in pre-war Pargue and oldest known Holocaust survivor, who refuses to hate and finds strength in the beauty of (classical) music. At 109 she still has, and always has had, her glass half full and refuses to be a victim. Alice died this Sunday – she was 110.
Similarly in the Cavedigger, Ra Paulette, not necessarily the most accessible person, is focused on his artwork building caves, his razor-sharp focus is similar to Alice’s; only that Ra is possessed where Alice was charmed.
Facing Fear is a true testament to a person’s ability to change – and ability to evolve would be the better way of describing it. The documentary is too short to really examine the change, but its focus really is forgiveness.
Prison Terminal was so hard to watch, but necessary. A stab at redemption, it seemed to me, for a World War ll vet and murderer (of his son’s drug dealer), Jack Hall, by allowing us to join him in his journey into hospice care in the maximum security prison where he served a life sentence, cared for by fellow inmates. It was tender, brutal and disarming.
Karama Has no Walls was confusing and raw. The filmmaking was raw, the brutality of an uprising was raw and the loss of young lives for the freedoms we take for granted was raw.
As Alice’s friend in The Lady in Number 6 would say: we have to be thankful for what we have – the only thing that matters are relationships. Everything else is irrelevant and we can do without.