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HollyShorts 2016: Documentary II Block – Film Reviews

There have been so many wonderful films at this year’s HollyShorts Film Festival, but the second Documentary block had some of the most moving films of this year’s festival. These documentaries, while short, were incredibly powerful and very entertaining.

Bacon and God’s Wrath

A story about Razie Brownstone, an older Jewish woman who tries bacon for the first time. The piece follows her through her life, speaks to her about her faith, her foray into new technologies like the internet, and her decision to deviate from a very powerful Jewish law.

Directed by Sol Friedman, it’s a unique look at the Jewish faith and those within it.

The Legendary Jerry G

There are really odd professions that come to light all the time. Things you can’t believe are actual careers. Meet Jerry G, a legend in the film industry, and one of the very few, if not the only, person who has made a career as a professional stand-in. He’s worked 15 years in the industry, despite not making much of an impact on those he worked with.

Director Kelly Makin shows us a different side of the industry legend, allowing us to finally get to know him as a person and not just as he is on set.

Excising the Heart

While some of these films are looks into the interesting aspects of life, Excising the Heart goes a little bit deeper. A film that offers nothing in the way of dialogue nor narration, the film focuses on the relationship between man and nature, decay and the big changes in life, through the lens of a barn demolition.

Director Samuel Karow does a beautiful job in capturing the entire event, making it a wonderful look into the deeper sides of life.

The Adaptable Mind

Sometimes, a good idea comes from an unlikely place and does something that really only benefits the world on a human level. This documentary follows that idea and delves into the concept that the mind, throughout history, has developed five key traits that will help us move through the newest age, the Age of Information. With these developments, knowledge and information have become paramount, and with technology becoming more important every day, keeping the human traits is even more critical.

The story also looks at the work Professor Mary Beth Heffernen has done with those fighting Ebola.

Directed by Tiffany Shlain and written by Shlain and Sawyer Steele, it’s a great look at the human condition and the ideas that promote humanity.

The Soul of a Tree

During the second World War, thousands of Japanese-Americans were put into internment camps. One of the many people who were forced to leave their homes on the West Coast and relocate was George Nakashima, a promising architect.  Nakashima would go on to become one of the world’s most legendary woodworkers, and The Soul of a Tree focuses on his work in Eden, Idaho, where he was relocated, and fellow architect Bill Vaughn, who only crossed paths with Nakashima twice but who was truly impacted by Nakashima’s life and work.

Director Mari Walker does a great job exploring Nakashima’s life and the impact he had on Eden. It’s a beautiful look at woodworking and the relationship between man and art.

Lebanon Wins the World Cup

For the last several decades, Lebanon has been the subject of war, civil strife, and religious conflict. Christians and Muslims have been warring for ages, and despite their differences, both sides agree on one thing: football. During the 2014 World Cup, these filmmakers brought Hammas and Edward, two Lebanese men who fought on either side of the war, together to celebrate their common love of Brazil and their football team.

Directed by Tony Elkhoury and Anthony Lappe, this really shows the power of sports and a passion bringing people together, even in the most dire of situations.

Johnny Physical Lives

The world’s biggest rock star, Johnny Physical, was almost the hugest name in music. If it wasn’t for his battle against leukemia, he would have taken the world by storm. But Johnny was no slouch. His band, the Physicals, took Boston by storm for a short time, and while Johnny had his own battle to fight, he did it with the the punk rock attitude people loved him for.

Directed by Johnny’s brother, Joshua Neuman, it’s a touching tale of love, music, and being remembered.


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