Chuck Jaffee: Oscar’s also go to short films |

Chuck Jaffee: Oscar’s also go to short films

Chuck Jaffee

The 90th Academy Awards, held on March 4, includes five nominees in the short documentary film category. All the films offer life-affirming goodness, variously on display. All come with a context of badness variously shaping real people’s lives.

Together, these films make an excellent session of shorter-form filmmaking.

‘Edith + Eddie’

This film is more poignant than the tendency to frame it as a one-liner.

Yes, at 95 and 96, they were in love and became the oldest interracial newlyweds. The mixed-race thing is only obvious. Frail in their mid-nineties, age is very much the issue.

It’s the focus not because of how Edith and Eddie know their lives and each other. It’s an issue because other people have power to ply their own agendas against the stated wishes of an endearing couple’s lives.

‘Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405’

It’s easy to mischaracterize Mindy Alper in this film. It takes some doing to embrace the way she talks.

How did the difficulties in her childhood shape the innate gifts and determination of this artist? It’s probably fair to suggest that this engaging opportunity to experience Mindy Alper on screen boosts an evaluation of her as an impressive artist. Regardless, there’s something about what seems so different about this person that says something about how akin to each other we all are.


The too clever title might have been more aptly named “Heroines.” A caring and dedicated first responder is a heroine in her commitment to helping people who overdose on drugs.

The non-judgmental churchy lady is a heroine in her “I’m here for you” presence, especially where drugs turns women to prostitution.

The drug-court judge, with a spot-on combination of nurturing and toughness, she’s a heroine.

Women struggling to turn their lives around might also be termed heroines or maybe potential heroines. This is a challenging place to look for life affirming traction.

‘Knife Skills’

Forging a successful, high-class French restaurant is tough enough with professionals. How about implementing the dream by training a staff of people just out of prison, people with the wrong kind of experience?

Fundamentally, this film showcases a bold example of empowering second chances.

Brandon Chrostowski, founder of the restaurant Edwins, received a second chance in his past. In a country that released more than 600,000 people from prison in 2015, this film exposes the potential in nurturing opportunity and high expectations.

‘Traffic Stop’

It’s important to witness yet another videocam of police brutality, but what makes this film work so well is the time spent getting to know the victim. Breaion King seems in every way to be a wonderful example of a human being, including her able commitment as an elementary school teacher.

The power the officer wielded so quickly and violently is outrageous. Ms. King must live with the memory of how institutionally sustained policy throttled her life, throttles all our lives. (Note: Ms. King being a model citizen isn’t the point.)

The film shows at the Nevada Theatre at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Chuck Jaffee of Grass Valley likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at

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