5 Short Films You Need to See Now

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you know the Oscars are coming on Sunday. But this year, instead of going to refill the popcorn bowl during the short-films category, why not invest a little time into the lesser-known works?

How, you ask? At the Riverview Theater. They’ve been showing the Oscar-nominated documentary short films for the past week, with tomorrow (Thursday) being your last chance to cach all five in one sitting—and for less than the cost of seeing one movie at an AMC or Regal! Can’t beat that.

Here’s the scoop on each flick as an appetizer:

1. Inocente is a personal coming-of-age documentary about a 15-year-old artist’s determination to overcome her troubled life as a homeless and undocumented immigrant.
Directed by: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Why it matters: We all know art has power beyond words, but how much do you know about the rising number of homeless children in America?

2. Kings Point is the story of five (now) senior citizens who moved to Florida decades ago and currently live in a retirement resort while dealing with illness and the desire for a loving human connection.
Directed by: Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
Why it matters: Growing old, and all the tension that comes with wanting independence but needing help in a community, is unavoidable for all. We might as well embrace it now.

3. Open Heart focuses on eight Rwandan children who have months to live and go on a journey to Sudan for life-saving heart surgery.
Directed by: Keif Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Why it matters: Dr. Gino Strada and Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza must fight to not only save lives, but also to keep the surgery free of charge for millions of people who need it.

4. Mondays at Racine is the tale of two sisters who open their Long Island hair salon for free to women undergoing chemotherapy.
Directed by: Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
Why it matters: This is not your typical hair-salon story. Bigger issues like womanhood, marriage, and ultimate survival are at stake here.

5. Redemption focuses on the part of New York City that isn’t glamorized: the canners. These people survive by way of cans and bottles they find in the trash and then redeem for money.
Directed by: Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Why it matters: There is a whole marginalized mass of people that the average person passes by daily without a second thought. The canners are proud New Yorkers who don’t ask for handouts.

Also, don’t forget about the live-action and animation categories, which is where you’ll find my favorite short: Paperman. (You can watch the whole six-minute film now on Hulu).

Update: The Riverview Theater has added two additional viewings, Saturday (Feb. 23) and Sunday (Feb. 24) at 10 a.m.

2013 Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts
Thursday, February 21
1:30 p.m.
$7 or $5 for seniors/children
Riverview Theater, 3800 42nd Ave. S., Mpls.
612-729-7369, riverviewtheater.com