Documentary SHORT Film

“American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton”
“Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison”
“As Far as They Can Run”
“The Elephant Whisperers”
“The Flagmakers”
“Happiness Is £4 Million”
“Holding Moses”
“How Do You Measure a Year?”
“The Martha Mitchell Effect”
“Nuisance Bear”
“Shut Up and Paint”
“Stranger at the Gate”
“38 at the Garden”

Per the Academy’s press release:

15 films will advance in the Documentary Short Film category for the 95th Academy Awards. 98 films qualified in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

Each shortlist is determined by members of that corresponding branch, except for International Feature Film. (Members from all branches are invited to participate in the preliminary round of voting and must meet a minimum viewing requirement to be eligible to vote in the category.)

The nominations for the 95th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, while the Oscars ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.


“The Elephant Whisperers”

The New Yorker Documentary

“The Martha Mitchell Effect”

“Nuisance Bear”
The New Yorker Documentary

“Shut Up and Paint”
HBO Max / CNN Films / Warner Bros. Pictures


“Shut Up and Paint” is the only documentary short film I’ve seen on this list. The rest of my choices are mainly the shorts I’ve heard of or come across this awards season. “Nuisance Bear” appeared a few times, winning at the Toronto Int’l Film Festival and the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. Netflix usually has a good representation at the Oscars, so it would not be farfetched to see “The Martha Mitchell Effect” or “The Elephant Whisperers” get nominated. And “Haulout” not only won at the AFI Fest but also looks like the strongest contender from visuals alone. A few other contenders to toss out there would be “38 at the Garden,” an HBO short film about a famous basketball player, or “The Flagmakers,” which is backed by National Geographic and tells the story of the immigrants that stitch American flags in Wisconsin.

American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton

April 22, 2022
Directed by Andrew Abrahams and Herb Ferrette
Runtime: 40 minutes
Open Eye Pictures

Synopsis: In one of the “trials of the century” and with startling relevance to today, Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton faced the death penalty for shooting a white policeman in a fatal car stop in 1967 Oakland. While Newton and his maverick attorneys boldly indicted racism in the courts and the country, and a groundbreaking jury led by a historic Black foreman deliberated Newton’s fate, the streets of Oakland and the nation were set to explode if the jury, as expected, convicted him of murder.

San Francisco Int’l Film Festival Nominee


September 2022
Directed by Sarah McCarthy
Runtime: 27 minutes
MTV Documentary Films

Synopsis: Russian activist Anastasia Shevchenko was kept under house arrest for two years for speaking out against the government. During that time, her young special-needs daughter died alone, away from her mother’s touch.

Toronto Int’l Film Festival Award Nominee
Montclair Film Festival Award Nominee

Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison

September 2022
Directed by Cinque Northern
Runtime: 27 minutes
MTV Documentary Films

Synopsis: Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison gives us a window into playwright Liza Jessie Peterson’s performance in 2020 of her acclaimed play The Peculiar Patriot performed at Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, said to be America’s largest prison.

Black Reel Award Nominee

As Far as They Can Run

November 29, 2022
Directed by Tanaz Eshaghian
Runtime: 39 minutes
MTV Documentary Films

Synopsis: An intimate look at disabled children in rural Pakistan who have been deemed useless by their communities. A verité portrait of three teenagers who manage to find some acceptance and a place in society through sports.

The Elephant Whisperers

December 8, 2022
Directed by Kartiki Gonsalves
Runtime: 41 minutes

Synopsis: The Elephant Whisperers’ follows an indigenous couple as they fall in love with Raghu, an orphaned elephant given into their care, and tirelessly work to ensure his survival. The film highlights the beauty of the wild spaces in South India and the people and animals who share this space.

The Flagmakers

September 18, 2022
Directed by Sharon Liese and Cynthia Wade
Runtime: 35 minutes
National Geographic Documentary Films

Synopsis: From National Geographic Documentary Films, Academy Award-winning director Cynthia Wade, award-winning director Sharon Liese and executive producer Giannis Antetokounmpo, THE FLAGMAKERS poses one of today’s most pressing questions: who is the American flag for? Employee-owned Eder Flag in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, sews and ships five million American flags a year. The flagmakers — locals, immigrants and refugees — stitch stars and stripes as they wrestle with identity and belonging. Sewing manager Radica, a Serbian immigrant, believes every flag has a soul. Ali, a war survivor from Iraq, is learning how to use a sewing machine after arriving in the United States just 90 days prior. Midwestern-born Barb’s genuine friendships with her immigrant co-workers belie her staunchly conservative beliefs. SugarRay, a Black man born and raised in Milwaukee, reflects on his complicated relationship with this country. Each considers: What does the American flag represent in a changing nation and world, and for whom? THE FLAGMAKERS is an intimate glimpse into the people whose hands make America’s most recognizable icon.

Critics’ Choice Documentary Award Nominee
Denver International Film Festival Award Winner
Savannah Film Festival Award Winner

Happiness Is £4 Million

June 23, 2022
Directed by Weixi Chen and Kai Wei
Runtime: 27 minutes

Synopsis: An idealistic, young journalist in Beijing profiles China’s biggest real estate speculator. Their divergent life experiences and clashing values challenge the journalist’s worldview, revealing deep generational and societal changes happening in the country.


October 2022
Directed by Maxim Arbugaev and Evgenia Arbugaeva
Runtime: 25 minutes
The New Yorker Documentary

Synopsis: Follows a man waiting in his hut in the desolate expanse of the Russian Arctic. He is holding out in order to observe a natural event that occurs here, every year, but ocean warming is taking its toll.

AFI Fest Grand Jury Prize Winner
Berlin Interfilm Festival Award Winner
Cork Int’l Film Festival Award Winner
Palm Springs Int’l ShortFest Award Winner
Vila do Conde Int’l Film Festival Award Winner

Holding Moses

April 24, 2022
Directed by Rivkah Beth Medow and Jen Rainin
Runtime: 17 minutes
The New Yorker Documentary

Synopsis: A Broadway performer becomes a mother, braiding rhythm and grief and time and joy on her path to connect with her profoundly disabled son.

San Francisco Int’l Film Festival Award Winner
Frameline LGBTQ Festival Award Winner
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Award Winner
Provincetown Int’l Film Festival Award Nominee
RiverRun Int’l Film Festival Award Nominee

How Do You Measure a Year?

May 27, 2022
Directed by Jay Rosenblatt
Runtime: 29 minutes
Jay Rosenblatt Films

Synopsis: From the time she was two-years-old and until she turned 18, they had a ritual: Dad asked (and filmed), and Ella answered. What do you dream about? What scares you? What do you think about our relationship? This is a little story about growing up and the love between father and daughter.

Krakow Film Festival Award Winner
VIS Vienna Independent Shorts Award Winner
DocAviv Film Festival Award Nominee
Nashville Film Festival Award Nominee

The Martha Mitchell Effect

January 20, 2022
Directed by Anne Alvergue and Debra McClutchy
Runtime: 40 minutes

Synopsis: She was once as famous as Jackie O. And then she tried to take down a President. THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT is an archival documentary portrait of the unlikeliest of whistleblowers: Martha Mitchell, a Republican cabinet wife who was gaslighted by the Nixon Administration to keep her quiet. It offers a female gaze on Watergate through the voice of the woman herself.

Sundance Film Festival Award Nominee
Cinema Eye Honors Award Nominee

Nuisance Bear

March 10, 2022
Directed by Gabriela Osio Vanden and Jack Weisman
Runtime: 14 minutes
The New Yorker Documentary

Synopsis: Churchill, Manitoba, is famous as an international destination for photographing polar bears. We’ve seen the majestic images and classic wildlife TV programs – but what does the bear see of us? ‘Nuisance Bear’ shifts the perspective to reveal the obstacle course of tourist paparazzi and wildlife officers that bears navigate during their annual migration.

Toronto Int’l Film Festival Award Winner
Cinema Eye Honors Award Nominee
Critics’ Choice Documentary Award Winner
SXSW Film Festival Award Nominee

Shut Up and Paint

June 2022
Directed by Titus Kaphar and Alex Mallis
Runtime: 20 minutes
Revolution Ready

Synopsis: Painter, Titus Kaphar, looks to film as a medium in the face of an insatiable art market seeking to silence his activism.

Cinema Eye Honors Award Nominee
Chicago Int’l Film Festival Award Nominee

Stranger at the Gate

June 11, 2022
Directed by Joshua Seftel
Runtime: 29 minutes
The New Yorker Documentary + Smartypants Pictures

Synopsis: A U.S. Marine plots a terrorist attack on a small-town American mosque. His plan takes an unexpected turn when he comes face-to-face with the people he sets out to kill.

Tribeca Film Festival Award Winner
Virginia Film Festival Award Winner
Indy Shorts Int’l Film Festival Award Winner

38 at the Garden

August 19, 2022
Directed by Frank Chi
Runtime: 40 minutes

Synopsis: Point guard Jeremy Lin, an undrafted Harvard graduate, shocks fans, stuns his teammates and galvanizes Asians around the world during his landmark 2011-12 season with the New York Knicks and sparks the “Linsanity” craze.

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