Popular program plays at Detroit Film Theatre for three showings

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For a group of girls in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan, skateboarding is not just an activity. It's a declaration of self and a cry for freedom.

Director Carol Dysinger's eye-opening documentary "Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)" is part of the 2020 Academy Award Nominated Short Films Documentary Program, which shows at the Detroit Film Theatre Feb. 6, 8 and 15.  

The five nominated shorts, which range from 20-40 minutes each, focus on a range of worldwide topics and issues. 

"In the Absence" centers on the spectacular failure of leadership when a South Korean ferry containing hundreds of school children sunk in 2014. Director Seung-jun Yi looks at the botched bureaucracy that followed in the wake of the disaster, and the divers who are still haunted by the horrors the wreckage uncovered. 

"Life Overcomes Me" is a stunning, difficult-to-watch look at Resignation Syndrome, an unexplained condition which causes child refugees to enter coma-like states for months at a time after undergoing severe physical or psychological trauma.

"St. Louis Superman" is a hopeful look at Bruce Franks Jr., a 34-year-old St. Louis battle rapper who becomes a state legislator after becoming tired of gun violence ripping apart his community. In it, Franks states, "being a State Rep. and being a battle rapper is the exact same thing," a unique perspective on modern politics. 

"Walk, Run, Cha-Cha" is a tender portrait of a Vietnamese couple who was torn apart by war but brought back together years later, who connect to each other through the art of dance. 

Which brings us back to  "Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)," a very human look at the cultural differences that separate us and those that bring us together. If there's a favorite to kickflip away with the Oscar, this is it. Skate on. 

'Academy Award Nominated Short Films: Documentary Program'

GRADE: B+

Running time: Approximately 180 minutes   

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

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