2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 3 of 3)

ShortsTV has made the Oscar-nominated short films (animated, live-action, documentary) available to audiences since 2006. The 17th-annual theatrical rollout of films nominated in the live-action, animated, and documentary short categories began on February 25. To learn more about the participating theaters and how to purchase tickets, visit the website here. The program will play in theaters only for the first four weeks. They then will be released to VOD via iTunes, Amazon, Verizon, and Google Play beginning March 22.


A pioneering basketball player, a high school for the deaf, life in Afghanistan, homelessness, and bullying: the topics covered in the documentary shorts are an eclectic assortment, although perseverance is a common thread. The shorts programs have long focused on depressing subjects and the documentary category is often the bleakest. These certainly depict adversity, but they affect a more hopeful mood than in years past. I’ve ranked them in order of my favorites but all five nominees are compelling. This collection is my favorite of the three short programs this year.

USA | 22 MIN | 2021

Lucy Harris is a trailblazer. She played basketball for Delta State University in the 1970s and won three consecutive National Championships. Then she represented the U.S. team in the first women’s basketball tournament at the 1976 Olympic Games and won the silver medal. She was later drafted by the New Orleans Jazz in the seventh round in 1977 — thus becoming the first and only woman “officially” drafted by an NBA team. Despite her immense talent, Harris did not express an interest to play in the NBA and declined to try out. She focused on raising a family instead and had two sons and twin daughters. This makes her even more intriguing. Luisa Harris is such a warm and self-effacing woman. Her humble persona belies a charming personality that shines throughout. I’m pretty confident that what “will win” and what “should win” the Oscar in this category is the very same thing.

USA | 38 MIN | 2020

Amaree McKenstry is a high school student at the Maryland School for the Deaf. The football team has a forty-two-game winning streak. Then they lose a game. The tournaments have a cinematic grandeur with a rousing score. Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg is one of the producers. Yet it’s not just about football. It’s a coming-of-age story about Amaree, the whole school in general, his group of friends, a tragic suicide, an absentee father, bullying, and sexuality. The uplifting account is a triumph over layer upon layer of hardship. The massive scope of the various narrative threads portrayed is so wide. It touches upon a lot of weighty themes within a brief runtime. There’s enough subject matter to sustain a 2-hour feature. Heck, it could be a miniseries. That’s a tribute to how engaging these stories are. These kids are so amazing the portrait captivates through sheer magnetism.

GERMANY/USA | 36 MIN | 2021

Bullies feel regret. Writer/director Jay Rosenblatt’s film is a recollection of a bullying incident. It happened 50 years ago when he was a child in the fifth grade. He was one of the perpetrators. Indeed the entire class was complicit in the taunting he recounts. All except the victim — whose name was Dick. No last name is given. Jay includes sound bites of the classmates he was able to interview. They share their memory of the event. Even his ninety-two-year-old teacher is interviewed. Not surprisingly, Dick does not particulate in this chronicle.

The fact Jay — the oppressor — is reconstructing this horrible experience to assuage his guilt makes him a lot of things: insensitive, self-indulgent, callous. He acknowledges this. “When I began making this film, I didn’t consider how it might make you feel, ” he addresses the victim. “I guess I’m not as sensitive as I thought.” The document is like an autopsy on a dead body completed by the murderer himself. Jay isn’t someone to be commended or admired. The overwhelmingly negative reactions on social media would agree, its Oscar nomination notwithstanding. Yet it still doesn’t make the reconstruction any less fascinating. It’s a psychological window into human behavior. This is real-life horror and it happens on playgrounds every day.

USA | 39 MIN | 2020

Over 500,000 Americans are homeless on any given night. This profile humanizes that statistic with the specific stories of people in three U.S. cities on the West Coast: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. This slickly-produced account is filled with stunning cinematography and music that sometimes verges on making the environment too beautiful. The presentation doesn’t delve into the roots of the problem or come up with any solutions. This is merely a sympathetic plea for help with a problem on a daunting scale and scope. What ultimately comes through amidst the crushing details of their lives is the humanity of these people.


Shaista is a newly married young man to Benazir. The couple lives in Kabul in a camp for displaced persons and they’re starting a family. His wife is expecting their first child. Nevertheless, he wants to be the first of his tribe to join the Afghan National Army. His desire to leave her for the army is difficult to support. Everyone tells Shaista to remain with his wife. “Go poppy harvesting,” his father implores. But that’s not the driving force behind his ambitions. The fact we never hear what his pregnant wife thinks speaks volumes. Shaista seems like a sweet guy and his love for Benazir is evident. We flash forward four years. The bleak ending does nothing to alleviate my distaste for Shaista’s decisions in life. This chronicle ends on a sour note.


2 Responses to “2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 3 of 3)”

  1. I have my order the same. What put “The queen of basketball over the top for me, was her humble, vibrant personality. She was such a trailblazer with zero ego. “Audible” was a close 2nd. Amazing story into a life of deaf teens who play football and just live life within their community. Others were well done but as good.

    Liked by 1 person

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