Each year, the Oscars nominate short films in 3 categories: Animation, Live Action, and Documentary. The documentary shorts, averaging around 30 minutes each, do what you would expect a great documentary to do: Tell us a story of a place, event, or person that is important and that we don’t know a lot about. The 5 films do exactly that. “Joe’s Violin” tells a story where the lives of a Holocaust survivor and a young girl at a music charter school in the Bronx intersect through a donated violin. “Extremis” examines the frustrations and emotion of a doctor as she works with families and patients to discuss difficult end-of-life decisions. “4.1 Miles” follows a day in the life of a Greek Coast Guard captain who rescues people fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq coming to Greece via Turkey. “Watani: My Homeland” views a Syrian family as they make the decision to flee Aleppo to Germany. And, my favorite, “The White Helmets”, about a group of people across Syria who come to the scene of bombings to help rescue people from the debris. The sacrifices these members of the White Helmets make to help their fellow Syrians is awe-inspiring, and the subject was something I knew nothing about. Big thumbs up from me, and thank you to the directors for bringing these short and powerful stories to the big screen.