Get a head start on Oscar season by taking a look at trailers and clips from the eight films shortlisted for this year's Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. A total of 40 shorts were eligible, and the Academy's documentary branch viewed all of them before voting. The films selected run the gamut, from stories about triumph over adversity (there's a 109-year-old Holocaust survivor and a nearly paralyzed screenwriter) to examinations of global events (the Yemeni revolution of 2011 and the emotional aftermath of a tsunami that struck Japan) and the just plain offbeat (a cave artist in northern New Mexico, and that one guy who rollerblades in slow motion at Pacific Beach in San Diego).

Between three to five of these films will eventually be eligible for the Oscar after nominations in the category are announced on Thursday, January 16, 2014. The awards ceremony is slated for Sunday, March 2.


"Cavedigger" looks at artist Ra Paulette and the "art caves" he has created, carved into sandstone in northern New Mexico. [More info.]

Facing Fear
Jason Cohen Productions

"Facing Fear" revisits painful events as Matthew Boger, a gay man who was brutally beaten as a teenager in Hollywood, is profiled along with former skinhead Tim Zaal, one of the men who attacked Boger a quarter-century ago. [More info.]

Jujitsu-ing Reality
Sobini Films

Screenwriter Scott Lew battles near-total paralysis as he works on his script for Sexy Evil Genius. His narration is provided in voiceover by actor Seth Green. The full-length doc is on Vimeo.

Karama Has No Walls
Hot Spot Films

"Karama Has No Walls" chronicles events on March 18, 2011, known as "The Friday of Karama," when gunmen opened fire on anti-government protesters in Sana'a, killing dozens and changing the course of the Yemeni evolution. [More info.]

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Reed Entertainment

At 109, Alice Herz Sommer is known as both the world's oldest pianist and the world's oldest Holocaust survivor. (She turns 110 on November 26.) The film's producer, Nicholas Reed, calls her a "superhero." [More info.]

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Prison Terminal

"Prison Terminal" focuses on the final months in the life of terminally ill prison inmate Jack Hall, and the prison hospice volunteers who care for him. [More info.]

Watch the trailer at the Tribeca Film Festival site.

notrac productions

Tsunami survivors in Yamamoto, Japan, have nothing left after the disaster but the photographs recovered from the debris that was their homes. [More info.]

Big Young Films and Runaway Films

This film profiles erstwhile neurologist John Kitchin, who abandoned his practice and moved to Pacific Beach, where he skates around on rollerblades and the locals call him "Slomo." [More info.]