2024 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Documentary

2024 Oscar Nominated Short Films - Documentary

2024 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Documentary

Release Date: February 16, 2024
Runtime: 02:30
The 2024 Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Short Film.

The Oscar-nominated short Films in the documentary category tackle a wide range of subjects, all with an average running time of about half an hour. This year's nominees tackle everything from economic justice to censorship in schools to an appreciation of music. There's even a personal interest doc about two grandmothers.

(Sean Wang, United States)

Nǎi Nai and Wài Pó

Director Sean Wang documents the daily lives of 83-year-old “Wài Pó” Zhang Li Hua and 94-year-old “Nai Nai” Yi Yan Fuei, his two grandmothers who live together. There is not much to Nǎi Nai and Wài Pó, other than celebrating family and the longevity of both these women's lives. However, there are some fun staged moments, such as the two grandmothers' arm wrestling or trying on different “hip” clothing sets.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars

(John Hoffman and Christine Turner, United States)

The Barber of Little Rock

Arlo Washington is the head of the Washington Barber College, who established the People Trust Non-Profit Loan Fund to help service the community of Little Rock. One fact that The Barber of Little Rock makes sure to emphasize is the “wealth chasm” in Little Rock, with the 30,000 people of the town's black communities being much poorer than the 8000 people in the rich neighbourhood of “The Heights.” Arlo Washington's goal with his loan fund is to restore people's trust in financial institutions and lead the way toward economic equality.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars

(S. Leo Chiang, Taiwan)

Island in Between

Director S. Leo Chiang reflects on his relationship with China, Taiwan, and the United States when he visits the Taiwanese island of Kinmen, located just a few miles from mainland China. One of the most striking visuals of Island in Between is a shot of a tank sunk in the sand, a reminder that the island of Kinmen was once on the frontlines of a civil war between Taiwan and mainland China. Island in Between dig into the complicated relationship between China and Taiwan, with the former considering the latter a province instead of an independent nation. This relationship is then reflected upon by director S. Leo Chiang, who has the added level of having grown up in the United States. As such, Island in Between contains some serious self-reflection.

3.5 out of 5.0 stars

(Sheila Nevins, Trish Adlesic, and Nazenet Habtezghi, United States)

The ABCs of Book Banning

Over 2000 books have been removed from schools in the United States after being labelled either Restricted, Challenged, or Banned. The filmmakers have assembled children to get their opinions on age-appropriate books that they cannot get access to. The ABCs of Book Banning is an example of censorship at its worst, with the film even comparing the banning of booking in US schools to Nazis burning books during World Wars II. Even more alarming is how many of these banned books deal with race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, which children should not be shielded from. I kept a note of as many banned books as possible, which are mentioned in the film, and I will list them below.

4.5 out of 5.0 stars

Select List of Restricted, Challenged, or Banned Books Mentioned in The ABCs of Book Banning

It should be noted that this list is being provided for informational purposes and that I have personally not read, nor have an opinion on most of the books in this list. That said, I should also note that The Handmaid's Tale was a reading option when I was in high school.

  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. – BANNED
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood – BANNED
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – BANNED
  • MAUS by Art Spiegelman – BANNED
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell – BANNED
  • The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish by Lil Miss Hot Mess – Challenged
  • Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris – Restricted
  • The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman – Restricted
  • Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy by Emmanuel Acho – Restricted
  • Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi – BANNED
  • Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe – MOST BANNED BOOK IN AMERICA
  • Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman – BANNED
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – BANNED
  • Rosa by Nikki Giovanni – BANNED
  • All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson – BANNED
  • Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison – BANNED
  • Two Degrees by Alan Gratz – Restricted
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo – BANNED
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – BANNED
  • Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon – Challenged
  • Forever… by Judy Blume – BANNED
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez – BANNED
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – BANNED
  • Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle – BANNED

(Kris Bowers and Ben Proudfoot, United States)

The Last Repair Shop

A Los Angeles-based music repair shop provides freely repaired musical instruments to students. The Last Repair Shops profiles the shop's four main employees, including Dana Atkinson (strings), Paty Moreno (brass), Duane Michaels (woodwinds), and Steve Bagmanyan (supervisor/piano). The Last Repair Shop has a somewhat formulaic format beginning with a student talking about their preferred instrument followed by the repair shop employee telling their life story, with most of the interviews being shot in an extremely close-up of their faces. Probably the most memorable section of The Last Repair Shop is the end of the film, featuring an orchestral performance performed by LAUSD alumni, joined by the four subjects.

3.5 out of 5.0 stars

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.