[#2020oscardeathrace] Life Overtakes Me (2019)

Director: John Haptas, Kristine Samuelson

Cast: Henry Ascher, Nadja Hatem, Mikael Billing

39 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Documentary Short Subject [PENDING]

 

Okay, I’ll be real. I didn’t know anything about Resignation Syndrome. This was all new to me, and in that way, Life Overtakes Me was a real learning experience.

Life Overtakes Me, from directors John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson (Tokyo Waka, Barn Dance), chronicles refugees searching for sanctuary and the children dealing with the trauma caused by uncertainty. The children in these families have internally shut down into a sleep-like state, almost comatose, and the documentary shows how the families are forced to deal with the situation and pray for the best.

As I said above, I’ve never heard of Resignation Syndrome until seeing this, and it’s both an interesting view at this condition and also perhaps a little too simplistic of a look. It doesn’t delve deep enough to really be effective, but I was quite interested in the subject material. I just wanted more.

Life Overtakes Me was effective in breaking my heart, and I think it’s a very timely piece. Especially now, in America, looking at the way our country treats newcomers and people looking for safety and security in a new land, this short absolutely sickened me. I keep thinking about our borders and all the children dealing with trauma and it haunts me.

This short film, while not as in-depth as I would have liked, was still a strong viewing experience. Hell, it’s on Netflix, you have no excuse to ignore this 40-minute lesson in something I doubt many people even know of. Check this one out when you can. It’s worth you time, and it may just get you thinking.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[#2020oscardeathrace] In the Absence (2018)

Director: Seung-jun Yi

28 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Documentary Short Subject [PENDING]

 

In the Absence is a short film chronicling the disaster of the South Korean ferry, Sewol, which, in 2014, sank nearby Jeju Island. Presented through real footage, texts from passengers aboard, real phone calls and phone call transcripts, and interviews with people involved, In the Absence is a haunting look at this true disaster and loss of life that very easily could have been lessened.

This is a haunting short film, and I struggled to get through it without chucking something at my television screen. Seeing the disaster play out across the initial days and following months while government officials continually made poor choices that worsened the situation is absolutely sickening. This is a hard-hitting piece of documentary film-making that says so much in such a small run-time.

In the Absence is a truly effective little short that hit me very hard. I learned a lot about a situation I knew very little about, and the time I spent was frustratingly powerful. I cannot recommend this one enough. Seek it out and be changed.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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