Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Documentary Zone

The theater is warm and the lights are dim when you walk in. The chairs are really no more than glorified folding chairs with a little extra padding and a single arm rest. The screen? By multiplex standards, it is quite small, but it is big enough. Even so, you choose seats in the first row so that nothing will obstruct your view, lean back, and relax. You are about to enter another dimension.

For the next three hours, you will be immersed in the lives of other people. There is a 69-year-old man who carves huge, wondrous caves from sandstone, an 82-year-old WWII vet who is serving life in prison for murder-- you will see him die, an impossibly optimistic 109-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, unarmed Yemeni protestors in Change Square who are gunned down by snipers, and an ex-Neo-Nazi and his friend, the gay former street hustler who he almost kicked to death 25 years ago.

These are this year's Oscar-nominated documentary shorts, a collection of movies both so personal and humanizing, that you will leave the theater a slightly different, maybe even better, person than you were before. That's the sign post up ahead.

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