The 10 Oscar Shortlisted Documentary Shorts and Where to Watch Them

Seven of the 10 documentaries are streaming online now.

Of all the Oscar shortlists that came out this week, the three for short films get the least attention. Unless you’re a non-stop jet-setting festivalgoer, you’ve probably not seen enough of the titles that are eligible for these categories let alone that are selected at this stage.

Of course, you can tend to catch up these days, at least with the shortlist for Best Documentary Short. Many of the 10 nonfiction films in the narrowed-down bunch for this category originate online (on Netflix, NYT, etc.), or they can be found there later. Maybe even right now.

To help you decide what five are most deserving, I’ve listed the shortlisted short docs below and, along with a bit of info about each one I’ve noted where they can be watched right now. Half of these titles will go away when the nominations are announced on January 22nd.

’63 Boycott

Directed by Gordon Quinn
Produced by Quinn, Rachel Dickson, Tracye Matthews, and Zak Piper

What it’s about: the Chicago School boycott of 1963 over segregation.
Length: 29 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Win: Nashville

Watch it free via PBS World for a limited time.

Black Sheep

Directed by Ed Perkins
Produced by Jonathan Chinn and Simon Chinn (Oscar winner for doc features Man on Wire and Searching for Sugar Man)

What it’s about: a black family that moves out of London and into a town run by racists.
Length: 26 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Win: Sheffield

Watch it via The Guardian here:

End Game

Directed by Rob Epstein (Oscar winner for doc features The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt) and Jeffrey Friedman
Produced by Epstein, Friedman, Rebekah Fergusson, and William Hirsch

What it’s about: medical practioners working with terminally ill patients and trying to change the way we think about life and death.
Length: 40 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Win: Rhode Island

Watch on Netflix.


Directed by Skye Fitzgerald
Produced by Fitzgerald and Bryn Mooser (Oscar nominee for doc short Body Team 12)

What it’s about: the refugee crisis through the work of German volunteers who rescue people from sinking rafts in the Mediterranean.
Length: 40 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Win: Traverse City

See it on tour.

Los Comandos

Directed by Joshua Bennett and Juliana Schatz
Produced by Bennett and Schatz

What it’s about: a 16-year-old member of the El Salvador emergency medical unit Los Commandos de Salvamento and her decision to leave the “Murder Capital of the World” for a better life.
Length: 28 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Win: Austin

Watch it via PBS or PBS World.

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes

Directed by Charlie Tyrell
Produced by Julie Baldassi

What it’s about: literally, Charlie Tyrell’s deceased father’s old porno VHS tapes that were left to him.
Length: 14 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Wins: SXSW, Rhode Island

Watch it via the New York Times Op-Docs here:

A Night at the Garden

Directed by Marshall Curry (Oscar nominee for doc features Street Fight and If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front)
Produced by Curry, Charlotte Cook, and Laura Poitras (Oscar winner for doc feature Citizenfour and nominee for doc feature My Country, My Country)

What it’s about: an American Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939.
Length: 7 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Win: Tribeca

Watch it via Field of Vision here:

Period. End of Sentence.

Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi 
Produced by Zehtabchi, Melissa Berton, Garrett K. Schiff, and Lisa Taback

What it’s about: a rural village in India where women are finally ending the stigma of menstruation by making their own sanitary pads and installing a machine for their distribution.
Length: 26 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Win: Cleveland, Traverse City

Women of the Gulag

Directed by Marianna Yarovskaya
Produced by Yarovskaya and Paul R. Gregory

What it’s about: six women who survived the Gulags.


Directed by Floyd Russ
Produced by Russ and Carter Collins

What it’s about: a young wrestler born without legs.
Length: 12 minutes
Oscar-Qualifying Festival Wins: Aspen, Atlanta, Hot Docs, and Rhode Island

Watch it on Netflix.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.