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“Joe’s Violin” 8/10 This short but sweet documentary short is about a Holocaust survivor who passes down his violin to a 13-year-old girl in the Bronx and their encounter. It packs a lot of emotion into its short runtime and pulls on your heart (wait for it) strings! It equally focuses its time on the little girl and the Holocaust survivor and we feel that payoff when they finally get to meet. Well made and does a good job setting up the history behind it #AHistoryOfViolins

“Extremis” 7/10 Although this is probably the most emotional of these five documentary shorts (it deals with people dying on life support), it lacks some focus. It focuses on several people on life support but if very uneven with whom it gives time to. It would have made more sense to just focus on one person/family or equally divide the time amongst all the patients/families. Still solid overall though and heartbreaking #LifeSupportAsWeKnowIt

“4.1 Miles” 5.5/10 For me this was easily the weakest of the bunch, although still nothing too bad. Just pretty mediocre. Follows a Coast Guard captain and his small crew who pick up immigrants fleeing from Turkey to Greece in the 4.1 mile stretch of ocean that they try to get across. We do connect with the Coast Guard captain but we don’t connect with the immigrants who endanger themselves and their children by totally overfilling their rafts. Also, I know it is hard to keep a camera steady on a boat but the cinematography was awful and it seemed that they didn’t plan for having to deal with filming on a rocky boat. #BoatsNHope

“Watani: My Homeland” 6.5/10 The first and weaker of the two Syria based stories. It follows a family fleeing from Aleppo to Germany and their struggle/journey. This documentary short is over 40 minutes, double the previous three documentary shorts. Although it gives you more time to get to know this family, it also begins to drag with slow pacing issues in the second half. The real tension comes with them in danger in Aleppo but once they make it out, the tension dissipates and we as the audience lose interest. Overall still good, but could have been stronger #WhySoSyrias

“The White Helmets” 8/10 The second Syria based documentary short focuses on “the white helmets”, a group of civilians whose job is to pull people out of the rubble/debris of collapsed/destroyed buildings that have been bombed by ISIS and/or the Russian military. We see their accomplishments of saving lives and the heartbreak when they lose one of their own. Very emotional and keep politics out of it. It instead focuses on just saving lives and being decent humans to one another. Even though it is longer the pacing holds up and we are invested the whole time #LetsGetReadyToRubble

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