2020 Oscar-nominated Short Films: Documentary

Movie Information

A look at this year's documentary short Oscar contenders.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Various
Starring: Various
Rated: R

“In the Absence” (29 minutes)

The story: Families and rescue divers recount the sinking of the MV Sewol, a South Korean vehicle-passenger ferry, and demand justice for the hundreds of children who died aboard.

In short: A tough look at the corrupt South Korean government, with disturbing footage and audio from the tragedy. The film has a lot to cover in a short amount of time and suffers through quick transitions from one subject to the next, resulting in a loosely connected but scattered approach. 3 stars

“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” (40 minutes)

The story: Girls in Afghanistan learn to read, write and skateboard in a society opposed to them receiving an education.

In short: An inspiring look at how education is becoming a priority in Afghanistan. The film is focused on its narrative and shows the girls as they learn and gain confidence to face the world despite the terrifying reality of them possibly dying or being pulled from school at any time. 4.5 stars

“Life Overtakes Me” (40 minutes)

The story: Three families face deportation while their children develop resignation syndrome — a stress-induced disorder that causes them to enter a comalike state.

In short: This documentary brings attention to the harsh life of immigrants in Sweden and a very peculiar way it can affect children. While staying on topic for the most part, by the halfway mark it unfortunately  starts to drag. While still interesting, a disconnect starts to form, and some viewers may find themselves mentally checked out by the end. 3.5 stars

“St. Louis Superman” (28 minutes)

The story: Battle rapper, activist and Missouri House of Representatives member Bruce Franks Jr. walks viewers through his day-to-day life, explaining what he’s done, what he’s doing and what he plans to do for the people of St. Louis.

In short: Franks earns his title of Superman, giving a lot of attention to youth violence and what he feels his constituents need. Watching him work is inspiring and powerful, even if it becomes emotionally taxing and heavy by the end. While he’s interesting, it doesn’t feel like the right amount of time was spent on his position as a state representative — but seeing him work as a community leader more than makes up for it. 4 stars

Walk, Run, Cha-Cha (20 minutes)

The story: Millie and Chipaul Cao recount their lives in Vietnam and the U.S., and how dancing brought — and keeps — them together.

In short: This documentary succeeds best as an adorable love story. Seeing the Caos dance and hearing their story are enough to leave anyone happy. However, it doesn’t have any real depth beyond its sweet nature,  but something this cute can survive without much else. 3.5 stars

About Cameron Allison
Film lover. Anime lover. Manga lover. Ask me about Lu over the Wall or Coraline.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.