10 Short Documentaries Named to 2015 Oscar Shortlist, Including ‘Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah’

HBO Documentary

The Academy of Arts and Sciences has unveiled the 2015 shortlist of 10 finalists in contention for the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. Among them are films with heavy subjects, including rape, murder, war and victims of the Ebola virus. Plus a doc about the legendary director of Shoah, Claude Lanzmann. Five of these films, which were pared down from 74 qualifying titles, will be named Oscar nominees on January 14th and the winner announced at the Academy Awards ceremony on February 28th. Here’s an introductory guide to each of them, including their trailers where available.

Body Team 12

RYOT Films and Vulcan Productions
13 min.
Directed and written by David Darg (Baseball in the Time of Cholera)
Executive produced by Olivia Wilde (Baseball in the Time of Cholera) and Paul Allen and produced by Darg and Bryn Mooser (Baseball in the Time of Cholera)
Subject: Workers tasked with collecting the bodies of Ebola victims in Monrovia, Liberia
Winner of the award for Best Documentary Short at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Official website

Chau, Beyond the Lines

(aka War Within the Walls)
Cynasty Films
34 min.
Directed, co-written, produced and shot by Courtney Marsh
Co-written and produced by Marcelo Mitnik (Chicas)
Subject: A Vietnamese teenager disabled by Agent Orange who dreams of becoming a fashion designer
Winner of the Special Jury Award for Documentary Short Film at the 2015 USA Film Festival
Official website

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

Jet Black Iris America
40 min.
Directed, written and produced by Adam Benzine
Executive produced by Nick Fraser (BBC Storyville)
Edited by Tiffany Beaudin (Quality Balls: The David Steinberg Story)
Subject: Filmmaker Claude Lanzmann (Shoah)
Official website

50 Feet From Syria

Spin Film
39 min.
Directed and produced by Skye Fitzgerald (Bombhunters)
Subject: Syrian-American surgeon Hisham Bismar, who volunteers to operate on victims of the Syrian civil war
Official Website

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

SOC Films
40 min.
Directed and produced by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Oscar-winning co-director of Saving Face)
Executive produced by HBO’s Sheila Nevins
Cinematography by Asad Faruqi (Saving Face)
Subject: A Pakistani woman who survived an attempt on her life in the name of “honor”

Last Day of Freedom

Living Condition
32 min.
Directed and edited by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman
Subject: A man who helped put his brother away for murder and his agony after the man is executed
Winner of the Jury Award for Best Short Film and the Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award at the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Winner of the Golden Starfish Award for Documentary Short at the 2015 Hamptons International Film Festival
Winner of the Golden Strands Award for Best Documentary Award at the Tallgrass Film Festival
Winner of the Best Short Audience Award at the San Francisco Doc Fest
Official Website


Kanaki Films
28 min.
Directed, written, edited and shot by Raul de la Fuente (Nomadek Tx)
Subject: Three women working in Potosi silver and zinc mine in Bolivia
Winner of the 2014 Goya Award for Best Short Film — Documentary
Winner of the Corazon Award for Best Short Documentary at the 2014 San Diego Latino Film Festival
Winner of the Youth Award at the 2014 San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival
Official website

My Enemy, My Brother

Fathom Film Group
18 min.
Directed, co-written and produced by Ann Shin (The Defector: Escape From North Korea)
Subject: An Iranian man and an Iraqi man who became unlikely friends while at war against each other reunite after 20 years
Winner of the Founders Prize for Best Documentary Short Film at the 2015 Traverse City Film Festival
Official Website
Watch the full film via New York Times’ Op-Docs:


Starting Point

Munk Studio — Polish Filmmakers Association
27 min.
Directed and co-written by by Michal Szczesniak
Subject: A woman released from prison who goes to work in a home for the elderly
Winner of the Short Doc Award at the 2015 Sheffield Doc/Fest
Winner of the Golden Frog in the Short Documentary Film Competition at Camerimage 2014
Official Website

The Testimony

Atria Film in association with Escape Artists
Directed, produced and shot by Vanessa Block
Produced by Vanessa Block, Mitchell Block (Oscar nominee for Poster Girl) and Steve Tisch (Oscar winner for Forrest Gump)
Subject: Congolese rape victims and the largest rape tribunal in the country’s history
Official Facebook page

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.