The Academy has announced the eight semi-finalists for the Best Short Documentary Oscar, and among the hopefuls are Lucy Walker’s Huntington’s disease drama The Lion’s Mouth Opens, Aneta Kopacz’s cancer-patient portrait Joanna, and Ellen Goosenberg Kent’s exploration of a veterans’ service, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.
The semi-finalists were chosen from a list of 58 qualifying shorts. The official shortlist of 3-5 nominees will be announced January 15.
Here are the women-directed shorts with descriptions from press materials and trailers.
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Perry Films; dir. Ellen Goosenberg Kent
They served their country overseas. Now, many military veterans must turn to the unique services of the Veterans’ Crisis Line to help with their own personal and professional traumas at home. This documentary profiles several of the VCL counselors who work the phones of this 24-hour service, providing support, guidance, and hope to active and retired servicemen dealing with emotional, physical and financial troubles.
Thanks to her blog, for many people Joanna has become an icon of a thoughtful and joyful life. The blog describes her daily life honestly and accurately: her goals are as simple as a family trip to the Polish lake district; her planning as short-term as witnessing her son’s first successful bike ride without training wheels. She starts the blog when she finds out she has cancer and is given three months to live. Then she promises her 5-year-old son, Jas, that she will do her best to survive for as long as possible. And she starts writing for him. The documentary shows the everyday existence of Joanna, her husband Piotr, and little Jas. It is as discreet as it is moving. Through few well-chosen words and observations it manages to be both essential and sensuous. A story of thoughtfulness in death, life and love.
The Lion’s Mouth Opens, Tree Tree Tree; dir. Lucy Walker
A documentary on young actress, Marianna Palka, as she confronts her risk of Huntington’s Disease.