5 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — It’s safe to say that the documentary film is one of the most timely and influential forms of media in our modern world. Major, global concerns and movements ranging from the devastation of climate change to the horrors of whaling and dolphin killing to even revelations about Russian doping in international sports have all been sparked by major documentaries in recent years.

In fact, all three of the documentaries referenced there (“An Inconvenient Truth,” ”The Cove,” and “Icarus”) all came to be Oscar winners in the Best Documentary Feature category, unquestionably helping to propel their subjects and issues to greater public consciousness and awareness.

Music and Film

with Brett Fieldcamp

By True Sky Credit Union

But not every young filmmaker can produce a full-length documentary, and not every deserving subject can warrant a feature-length runtime. The documentary world, crucial as it is to modern discourse and awareness of important issues, relies on the existence and viability of the “short-form” documentary community. Even doc-directing heavyweight Davis Guggenheim, the man behind “An Inconvenient Truth” and award-winner “Waiting for Superman” is the son of Oscar-winner and documentary short legend Charles Guggenheim, one of the form’s leading lights.

It came as a painful blow to the documentary community, then, when it was announced that the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject would not be televised this year, and would be relegated to a smaller, pre-taped ceremony earlier in the week. The decision effectively lowers the profile not only of the filmmakers, but of the real-life subjects of the films themselves.

Nevertheless, OKC’s most respected art houses are committed to screening the contenders for this year’s Documentary Short Subject race, ensuring that at least our city’s audiences can appreciate the work of these artists and can stay informed of the important issues and colorful figures at the center of the five nominees.

With a combined runtime of just over two-and-a-half hours, both Rodeo Cinema and the Noble Theater at OKCMOA will be hosting multiple screenings of the full lineup throughout March.

Here’s a full rundown of the nominated films for Best Documentary Short Subject:


Follows the football team from the Maryland School for the Deaf, centering on senior Amaree McKenstry-Hall, on the eve of the Homecoming game, and in the aftermath of a classmate’s suicide. First-time Oscar nominee Matthew Ogens directs this look at living without hearing as a modern youth, and the fears and anxieties of facing the entrance into the larger hearing world.

Audible (courtesy of Netflix)

The Queen of Basketball

A look at the life, and the unfortunate relative obscurity, of perhaps the greatest woman in the history of American basketball, Luisa “Lucy” Harris. Three-time national college champion and pioneering Olympian, Harris was a giant of the game who sadly passed away just weeks before this short was announced as an Oscar nominee. Canadian director Ben Proudfoot gets his second nomination after last year’s “A Concerto is a Conversation” competed in the same category.

The Queen of Basketball (courtesy of Breakwater Studios)

Three Songs for Benazir

A look at the refugee and displacement crisis in Afghanistan through the eyes of refugee camp resident Shaista as he weighs his hopes of starting a family with his new wife Benazir against his dreams of joining the Afghan National Army. Documentary veterans and husband-and-wife duo Elizabeth and Gulistan Mirzaei direct this rumination on the nature of love in wartime, leading both to their first ever Oscar nominations.

Three Songs for Benazir (courtesy of Netflix)

Lead Me Home

A look at the homelessness and housing crises of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle through the “impressionistic” lens of artistic and experimental filming techniques, all aimed at capturing the scale and vastness of how it feels to live on the streets of these bustling metropolises. Directors Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk, both award-winning documentarians in their own right, come together here to tackle one of America’s most enduring and challenging issues.

Lead Me Home (courtesy of Netflix)

When We were Bullies

Lifelong short-film diehard Jay Rosenblatt, now in his late 60’s, attempts to track down his classmates and teacher from fifth grade to recall and re-examine a bullying incident now five decades in the past. This admittedly controversial short marks the first Academy Award nomination for Rosenblatt, despite a filmmaking career stretching back to the 1980’s.

When We Were Bullies (courtesy of Jay Rosenblatt Films)

The “Oscar Shorts 2022: Documentary” program will screen at both Rodeo Cinema locations Wednesday, March 9th and Thursday, March 10th. Visit rodeocinema.org for showtimes and tickets.

The “Documentary: 2022 Oscar-Nominated Short Films” program screens at Oklahoma City Museum of Art Friday, March 11th, Friday, March 18th, and Saturday, March 26th. Visit okcmoa.com for show times and tickets.

Last Updated March 8, 2022, 5:45 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor