It's difficult to find opportunities to watch short documentaries -- your best bet is to catch them at film festivals or occasionally on public television. It's too bad, because many documentary subjects are best served by a shorter format than the traditional feature-length. I know documentary filmmakers who have scrabbled to find material to stretch their film to a running time longer than necessary, perhaps weakening the film in the process, because they know that they've got a better chance of a bigger audience with a longer film.

So it's no surprise that you might not see any familiar titles in the Documentary Short Subject shortlist that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released on Wednesday. I can't predict which might win the Oscar, or even which ones might make the cut as official nominees in January, because I've had no chance to see any of the films.

The eight films on the Oscar shortlist are The Blood of Yingzhou District,Dear Talula, The Diary of Immaculée, Phoenix Dance, Recycled Life, Rehearsing a Dream, A Revolving Door, and Two Hands. To make it easier for those of us who are interested in these films, documentary filmmaker A.J. Schnack has listed the directors and summaries for each film, and links to the films' websites (when applicable). The ones that sound most interesting to me so far are Phoenix Dance, about a dancer who loses a leg and is determined to keep dancing (Disney, this could be a great feature for you!), Dear Talula, a personal doc from a filmmaker who discovers she has breast cancer, and Recycled Life, about the huge Guatemala City dump. But I'd love the chance to watch all of these short documentaries at some point. Have you seen any of them?
categories Oscars, Cinematical