Oscars documentary shortlists spotlight Jewish stories

Finalists for short film include ‘116 Cameras’ and ‘One of Us’ for features.

Eva Schlass (photo credit: BIRDLING FILMS)
Eva Schlass
(photo credit: BIRDLING FILMS)
The shortlists for both short and feature documentaries were announced by the Academy Awards earlier this month, and both included films with Jewish stories.
Among the 10 documentary shorts – whittled down from 77 entries – in contention for the Oscars is 116 Cameras.
The film, a 15-minute documentary produced by The New York Times and directed by Davina Pardo, depicts Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss partaking in a video testimonial project to ensure her story lives on.
Schloss is shown during filming for The University of Southern California Shoah Foundation’s “New Dimensions in Testimony” project. The idea is to film Holocaust survivors answering questions about their experiences – via 116 different cameras – so they can become interactive 3D features for schools and groups long after they’re gone.
After the war, Schloss’s mother remarried Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank. Schloss, herself a survivor of Auschwitz, discusses her own legacy and that of her famous stepsister in this moving short film.
Separately, the 15 finalists for the documentary feature prize – narrowed down from 170 submissions – include the controversial Netflix original film One of Us. The movie, which premiered globally on the streaming service in October, shines a light on the stories of three people who choose to leave the Hassidic Jewish community in New York.
The 90-minute film was criticized by many for what was seen as its negative portrayal of the insular, fervently religious community. But many others were moved by the personal tales of Ari, Luzer and Etty, who went through great struggles to forge new paths. The film was directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady of Loki Films, best known for their 2006 feature Jesus Camp. The Jerusalem Post called the film “a dark, engrossing and incomplete story of Hassidic life” and Variety said it was a “harrowing portrait of trauma, bravery and insular societal oppression.”
The final nominees in both categories – as well as the rest of the awards – will be announced on January 23.