2017 Oscar Nominated Documentary Short Films

Today, we take a look at the five films nominated for the 2017 Academy Awards in the Documentary Short Subject category.

Country of origin: USA & Greece
Language: Greek | English | Arabic
Directed by: Daphne Matziaraki
Running Time: 26mins

Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a captain in the Greek Coast Guard, is caught in the struggle of refugees fleeing the Middle East and traveling the short distance from the coast of Turkey to the island of Lesbos. Despite having limited resources, the captain and his crew attempt to save lives during the immense humanitarian crisis.

Watch the full documentary here.


Country of origin: USA
Language: English
Directed by: Dan Krauss
Running Time: 24

At the Intensive Care Unit at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California, palliative care specialist Dr. Jessica Zitter treats terminally ill patients. As she and her team provide the best possible care, they try to help the patients and their loved ones make critical, often heartbreaking decisions.

Watch the full documentary here.


Country of origin: USA
Language: English
Directed by: Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
Running Time: 24mins

During a drive to donate musical instruments to public schools, 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joseph Feingold offers his beloved violin, which he has played for more than 70 years. The instrument goes to the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls, where young musician Brianna Perez is inspired to become friends with her benefactor.

Watch the full documentary here.


Country of origin: USA
Language: Arabic | English
Directed by: Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Running Time: 41mins

In the chaos of war-torn Syria, unarmed and neutral civilian volunteers known as “the white helmets” comb through the rubble after bombings to rescue survivors. Although they have already saved more than 60,000 lives since 2013, these brave first responders continue to place themselves in danger every day.

Watch the full documentary here.


Country of origin: UK
Language: Arabic | English
Directed by: Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis
Running Time: 39mins

Four young children live with their mother and father, a Free Syrian Commander, in a warzone in Aleppo, Syria. After their father is captured by ISIS, the children flee with their mother to Goslar, Germany, in a years-long journey that will test them all as they try to find a safe home in a foreign country.


The Documentary Short Subjects category is always the hardest to watch, and to judge. Year in and year out, it’s always the strongest category in terms of quality, with each nominee truly representing the best stories from around the world. Each of 2017’s nominees would be an exceptional representative to the category, no matter which one wins. Each of these tells impassioned and important tales of bravery, of courage and of compassion.

This year, with all that is going on in Syria, the two films likely to capture the hearts and minds of the Academy are the ones about Aleppo. Both “The White Helmets” and “Watani: My Homeland” give glimmers of hope in what seems to be a hopeless situation, but “The White Helmets” brings the viewer so close to the fighting that bombs are literally exploding in front of you. This story of the men of the Syrian Civil Defense, who voluntarily rush to the scene of attacks to save the greatest number of lives in the shortest possible time and to minimize further injury to people and damage to property, should radically change any viewer’s perceptions of what is happening in Syria, and what is happening in our own country in response to the aggressors. It is my pick to win Best Documentary Short Subject.