Last Call at the Oasis
Los Angeles filmmaker Jessica Yu won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for her 1997 film, Breathing Lessons. Expect to see her in the running again this year for Last Call at the Oasis, a film about the imminent water crisis. With a cast of characters that includes human-rights lawyer Erin Brokovich and actor Jack Black, Yu manages to take on daunting water issues—cancer-causing pesticides, water wars in the Middle East, drought in Australia and California—with a light tone. The result is a film that leaves viewers aware that even the most serious issues are solvable–if we decide to solve them.
All.I.Can. JP Auclair’s Street Segment
The segment that stands out in Sherpa Cinema’s film All.I.Can is freeskier JP Auclair grinding rails and blackflipping through the streets of industrial-looking British Columbian towns. As soon as it hit the Web last winter, it made the rounds online. Watch it and you’ll understand why. The segment won Best Cinematography Award at Mountainfilm.
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Fast death and slow rebirth are the themes of director Lucy Walker’s 40-minute Oscar-nominated documentary celebrating the survivors of the 2011 Japan tsunami and their love of the delicate cherry tree. There are many platitudes here—“They are the underdogs, tiny and short-lived, but they give us strength,” says one blossom lover—but none of the statements feel overwrought or unearned. And the reason for that is the devastating four minutes of violence that starts the film, a section of documentary footage that puts the most blown-out Michael Bay sequence to shame.
This is the story of National Geographic photographer James Balog’s mission to document the world’s disappearing glaciers. Director Jeff Orlowski’s won Mountainfilm’s Indomitable Spirit Award for his feature-length film. Watch out for executive editor Sam Moulton’s upcoming profile of Balog in the November issue.