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Next two nights: Oscar-nominated documentary shorts screen at the Guild Cinema

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The Academy Awards show airs on March 2, and the Guild Cinema has a series this week of all nominated shorts. Just completed at the Guild was the screening of Live Action shorts and beginning today there are two days (and evenings) of Documentaries (Feb. 26-27 at 3:30pm and 7pm) and then three days and evenings of Animation (Feb. 28, March 1 and March 2 at 3:45 pm, 6 pm and 8:15 pm).

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This article covers the Documentary shorts and includes links to clips. Friday morning I will do a short post on the Animation shorts that will run from that day through the weekend.

“The Lady in Number 6” (Canada), is a 38-minute short directed by Malcolm Clarke. It features Alice Herz Sommer, 109-years-old at the time of the film, and even more inspiring, a Holocaust survivor and pianist. The joy of music and laughter are the keys to her longevity. In fact, she performed while a prisoner in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. This extraordinary woman says, ““Music saved my life and music saves me still.” Be prepared to be inspired by this thoughtful and amazingly positive woman, who still plays the piano. Catch a glimpse of her spirit in this trailer.

“Karama Has No Walls” (Yemem, UK & United Arab Emirates) takes place in the capital of Yemen - Sana’a. The people wanted Ali Abdullah Saleh to give up his power, which he had held onto for 33 years. Violence reigned for some time. But, peaceful protests eventually led to the forced resignation of Ali Abdullah Saleh. We know about Mubarak's fall and the Arab Spring, but the story of Yemen is not well known, at least in the Western hemisphere. It comes to life in this 26-minute short, and is a reminder of the power of the people. Here is a link to the trailer for this award-winning film.

“Facing Fear” (U.S.) is a 23-minute short directed by Jason Cohen. Can a neo-Nazi and a gay victim he tormented come to terms with their pasts? 13-year-old Matthew Boger, tossed out of his home because he was gay, lived on the streets of Hollywood. He was attacked in an alley by Neo-Nazis and left for dead. Years later, he meets a skinhead, Tim Zaal. They realize they had met before, when Zaal was in the group that attacked Boger. What happens next is the story of both men facing fear. The trailer shows a bit of their story.

In “CaveDigger” (2012), director Jeffrey Karoff takes us into the world of cave sculptor Ra Paulette, a man who drifted through different jobs until close to age 40. Once he began cave digging, he realized he was undergoing a transformative process, creating magical places where one could feel the earth all the while experiencing the sun pouring in from the outside. Ra has gained insights as he has worked, “finding god in that hole” much like ancient artists, he believes. This 39-minute film captures the spirit of this artist and the impressive beauty of northern New Mexico’s terrain. A short look at this unusual art is presented in the trailer. Check out the link below for a full review of this film.

The final film in the series of Oscar-nominated documentaries is “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” (U.S.). This 40-minute film shows life dwindling away in 83-year-old prisoner Jack Hall. Dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he had been locked up in a maximum security prison since 1984 for a first degree murder committed in 1977. Director Edgar Barens was given unprecedented access to the prison for a year once he established trust with the officials, staff, inmates and, of course, Jack Hall. Take this opportunity for the rare look inside the walls of a prison and contemplate the fact that there is an ever-growing population of older and ill inmates. Here is a glance at the film.

Screenings are at the Guild Cinema at 3405 Central Avenue NE. Check out their website or call them at (505) 255-1848. It is a great opportunity to catch several creations at once from talented filmmakers.

Sources: IMDb website, Guild Cinema website, The Lady in Number 6 website, Karama Has No Walls website http:, Facing Fear website, Prison Terminal website, CaveDigger website, Ra Paulette’s website

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