The Tribeca Film Festival always provides a wealth of documentaries that highlight injustices around the world or give us insight into real people. Sometimes, a filmmaker makes a short in an effort to raise money for a full-length feature. Other times, the subject matter simply doesn’t merit a longer film but is still worth communicating.
Below is a rundown of six documentary shorts that I got to see during this year’s festival:
“For Flint” – Rather than focus on economic issues or contaminated water, filmmaker Brian Schulz focused on three residents who are doing what they can to make life in Flint better. Ryan Gregory is an artist who uses found objects and enlists the community to create art pieces together. He wants residents to see the possibilities in everything. Valorie Horton, a former General Motors employee, became a full-time potter and formed the Chosen Few Arts Council to make sure Flint students received art and music education. Leon El-Alamin, a former drug dealer and prison inmate, started the M.A.D.E. Institute (Money Attitude Direction Education) to help ex-convicts and at-risk youth.
“The Godfather of Fitness” – This 18-minute doc is a sweet love letter to Jack La Lanne, including interviews with Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and Denise Austin. We learn just how extraordinary La Lanne was through the interviews and footage of the man himself. Directed by Rade Popović.
“Love the Sinner” – This 16-minute documentary by Geeta Gandbhir and Jessica Devaney investigates the evangelical roots of homophobia. The short includes footage of the aftermath of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, and the title refers to the saying, “Love the sinner; hate the sin.”
“Mother’s Day” – This is a heart-wrenching short about children visiting their mothers behind bars. A bus takes them to see their moms, and we watch as they have a play day at the prison, followed by the tearful goodbyes. It shows the effects of incarceration on the young people who are left without their parents. Directed by Elizabeth Lo and R.J. Lozada.
“Revolving Doors” – This is another short that shows the effects of incarceration on families and highlights how difficult it is for former prisoners to make it on the outside and avoid the revolving doors of repeated jail time. We’re introduced to Jason, who struggled to find work after his time in prison. Then, unable to support his family, he turned to crime again out of desperation. The film was made over a span of two years and directed by James Burns, who served a 12-year sentence himself.
“Water Warriors” – In 2013, a Texas company began to explore natural gas resources in New Brunswick, Canada. A group of First Nation activists responded, setting up road blockades to try to prevent the contamination of their water sources. It took a while, but they managed to halt the drilling and get a moratorium on fracking in their area. This 22-minute film is about these activists and what resistance can accomplish. Directed by Rachel Falcone.