10 Short Documentaries Named to 2017 Oscar Shortlist, Including Four Now Streaming

Half of these films will be nominated for an Academy Award.

The Academy of Arts and Sciences has unveiled the 2017 shortlist of 10 finalists in contention for the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. And almost half of them are available to stream online right now, most thanks to the New York Times’ Op-Docs program. The selections seem to be focused on the elderly this year, from a Holocaust survivor to an interracial couple to a spiritual icon, and there’s also a strong showing of female subjects.

Five of these films, which were pared down from 77 qualifying titles, will be named Oscar nominees on January 23, 2018, and the winner announced at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4, 2018. Here’s an introductory guide to each of them, including their trailers and/or links to stream them where available.

116 Cameras

Birding Films and The New York Times (Op-Docs)
16 min.
Directed and produced by Davina Pardo
Shot by Emily Topper (After Tiller)
Subject: Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss (pictured below) and how she’s preserving her legacy in hologram form.
Official Website
Op-Docs Article
How to watch it: streaming via the New York Times


The New York Times (Op-Docs)
13 min.
Directed and edited by Garrett Bradley
Executive produced by NYT’s Kathleen Lingo (4.1 Miles)
Subject: The effect of mass incarceration on a black American family, through the eyes of a single mother in New Orleans.
Awards: Sundance Jury Award
Op-Docs Article
Where to see it: streaming via the New York Times at the link above.


Heart is Red and Kartemquin Films
29 min.
Directed and edited by Laura Checkoway
Executive produced by Cher, Steve James (Hoop Dreams), Gordon Quinn (Hoop Dreams), and Betsy Steinberg (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail)
Cinematography by Neil Barrett (The Woodmans)
Subject: America’s oldest interracial newlyweds.
Awards: Cinema Eye Honors Nominee, IDA Nominee, Hamptons Film Festival Jury Award
Official Website
Where to see it: still on the festival circuit.

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Stiefel & Co.
24 min.
Directed, produced and shot by Frank Stiefel (Ingelore)
Subject: Outsider artist Mindy Alper.
Awards: Austin Film Festival Jury and Audience Awards, Full Frame Jury and Audience Awards
Official Website
How to watch it: n/a


Netflix and the Center for Investigative Reporting, A Requisite Media Production
39 min.
Directed and produced by Elaine McMillion Sheldon (11/8/16)
Executive produced by Netflix’s Lisa Nishimura (The White Helmets), Jason Spingarn-Koff (The White Helmets), Zana Lawrence (Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press), Amanda Pike (Frontline), and Christa Scharfenberg (Banished)
Subject: Women struggling with heroin addiction.
Official Facebook Page
How to watch it: streaming on Netflix

Kayayo: The Living Shopping Baskets

Integral Film
32 min.
Directed and shot by Mari Bakke Riise
Subject: An 8-year-old girl in Ghana who works as a “real life shopping basket.”
Awards: Big Sky Jury Award
Official Webpage
How to watch it: n/a

Knife Skills

TFL Films
40 min.
Directed, produced and shot by Thomas Lennon (Oscar winner for short doc The Blood of Yingzhou District, nominee for short doc The Warriors of Qiugang and feature The Battle Over Citizen Kane)
Subject: Ex-convicts starting a world-class French restaurant.
Awards: Traverse City Film Festival Audience Award
Official Website
How to watch it: n/a

Ram Dass, Going Home

Further Pictures
31 min.
Directed and produced by Derek Peck
Executive produced by Lucy Walker (Oscar-nominated director of feature Waste Land and short The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom), Bill Benenson (Dirt! The Movie), Laurie Benenson (Dirt! The Movie), and Sammy Hagar
Edited by Taryn Gould (Pearl Jam: Let’s Play Two)
Subject: Spiritual guru Ram Dass, 20 years since his stroke and near death.
Official Website
How to watch it: n/a

Ten Meter Tower

Plattfom Produktion and The New York Times (Op-Docs)
17 min.
Directed, produced, edited and shot by Axel Danielson and Maximilien van Aertryck
Awards: Cinema Eye Honors Nomination, Traverse City Jury Award, Jihlava European Short Award
Op-Docs Article
How to watch it: streaming via the New York Times link above.

Traffic Stop

Q-Ball Productions
How to watch it: n/a

The Nonfics staff works tirelessly to ensure that you always know what's going on in the world of nonfiction entertainment.