Keep Your Feet On The Ground Documentaries

THERE’S JUST 25 DAYS TO GO UNTIL THE 85th ACADEMY AWARDS, and all eyes are on Zero Dark Thirty, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit (for missing out, mostly) and the surprising  underdog, Argo.

The nominations and shortlists most people won’t be watching are the Documentary and Short Film makers, which is a real shame given that documntaries are the natural long-form format and most natural inspirations for fictional films. I mean I LOVE fiction film, but…Y’know? Everyone’s here on the red carpet for the drinks with umbrellas and pastry canapes, but no-one wants the non-alcoholic daquiri and purple carrot dips, even though they’re delicious and probably very good for you.

Short films come in all shapes and sizes. There are the festival-makers, the 4thought favourites, almost everything at Cannes – and practically any music video made by Anthony Mandler is a small epic. But the short films people forget are the short documentary films we watch as news features almost every day. There’s some serious quasi-news crap out there that seems to either: treat reality TV like it’s still something special/talk about political diversion trollop like ‘traffic sign cutter’/ glorify misanthropy.

And there’s the real, high quality, elegantly shot shorts and incredibly well-investigated and well-recorded pieces of what I’d like to coin as Cinematic Journalism: the exploration of the same world – only its underbelly- which we are often sealed away from. 

They’re not up for an Oscar, but I figured these productions would form the best examples of the films the world may unforgivably forget. Wilderness Films is run by charity director Hazel Chandler and comprises an award-winning team who go out and report back on the world. This is a piece they did for Al-Jazeera a few years ago called ‘Under The Neon’ as part of the Witness series. Las Vegas – much like London – is notoriously mythologised in less economically advantaged countries for having streets paved with real gold. Under The Neon explores how those who move and try to make a better life miss the beaten track and fall away, trying to find out why it is so easy to become homeless, and how people try to survive in the glowing, glossy Las Vegas – exposing a most peculiar set of venoms that pullulates beneath it all.

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