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Catch all of this year’s Oscar nominated short films before the 90th Annual Academy Awards telecast on Sunday, March 4th, 2018!

And the winners are?… Once again, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society is proud to present this nationally-touring program highlighting all of the Live Action, Animated, and Documentary Short Films that received Academy Award nominations this past year. The Oscar Nominated Short Films programs offers viewers the rare opportunity to experience the year’s best short films from across the globe, collected together in this special cinematic showcase courtesy of Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures.

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS PROGRAM (Running time: 184 minutes)

General Rating: R (contains material some may find disturbing)

Traffic Stop– dir. Kate Davis (MVFS Board Member), USA, 31 minutes Synopsis: Featuring footage caught on a dashcam, TRAFFIC STOP tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas whose routine traffic violation quickly escalated into a dramatic arrest at the hands of a white police officer.

Edith+Eddie – dir. Laura Checkoway, USA, 29 minutes Synopsis: Edith and Eddie, ages 96 and 95, are America’s oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart.


Director’s Biography: Director’s Biography: Laura Checkoway’s documentary short EDITH+EDDIE has won numerous awards including the IDA Documentary Awards Best Short 2017. The film is executive produced by Steve James and Cher. Her award-winning debut film LUCKY (also executive produced by Steve James) screened at festivals across the globe and premiered on television in 2014. With a background in journalism, Laura penned revealing profiles and investigative features for numerous publications and has authored best-selling celebrity autobiographies.

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405– dir. Frank Stiefel, USA, 40 minutes Synopsis:This is a portrait of a brilliant 56 year old artist who is represented by one of Los Angeles’ top galleries. Her body of raw, emotional work reveals a lifetime of depression and mental disorder. Mindy Alper has suffered through electro shock therapy, multiple commitments to mental institutions and a 10-year period without speech. Her only consistent means of communicating has been to channel her hyper self-awareness into drawings and sculpture of powerful psychological clarity that eloquently express her emotional state. Through an examination of her work, interviews, reenactments, the building of an eight and a half foot papier-mache’ bust of her beloved psychiatrist, we learn how she has emerged from a life of darkness and isolation to a life that includes love, trust and support.


Director’s Biography: Frank Stiefel the producer, director, writer and cinematographer of HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 was born and raised in New York City. He spent most of his career as a production executive in the commercial production industry. First as the executive producer of the bicoastal company, Stiefel & Company and later as an executive producer of the international company, @Radical Media, Mr. Stiefel was responsible for the production of thousands of TV commercials, web initiatives and television programs. He was the only person chosen twice to be the chairman of the trade association the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. Stiefel produced a number of short subject documentaries that appeared at Telluride, Sundance, and Berlin. In 2009 he directed INGELORE, a 40-minute documentary portrait of his mother. The film was honored at many international festivals winning a number of Audience and Best short subject documentary awards. It was seen at IDA DOCUWEEKS presentation, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART DOCUMENTARY FORTNIGHT, and BERLINALE. In 2011 Stiefel retired as an executive producer to concentrate on the making of documentaries.

Heroin(e) – dir. Elaine McMillion Sheldon, USA, 39 minutes Synopsis: Once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, West Virginia has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow) shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope. Sheldon highlights three women working to change the town’s narrative and break the devastating cycle of drug abuse one person at a time. Fire Chief Jan Rader spends the majority of her days reviving those who have overdosed; Judge Patricia Keller presides over drug court, handing down empathy along with orders; and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry feeds meals to the women selling their bodies for drugs. As America’s opioid crisis threatens to tear communities apart, the Netflix original short documentary HEROIN8E9 shows how the chain of compassion holds one town together.


Director’s Biography: Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a Peabody Award winning and Emmy nominated filmmaker from West Virginia. HEROIN(E) was produced in association with the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), as part of a new initiative to support women filmmakers. In 2016, Chicken & Egg Pictures awarded her with the inaugural “Breakthrough Filmmaker” award. Sheldon was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine and one of “50 People Changing The South” in 2015 by Southern Living Magazine. She has also contributed several shorts to The New York Times Op-Docs.

Knife Skills – dir. Thomas Lennon, USA, 40 minutes Synopsis: What does it take to build a world-class French restaurant? What if the staff is almost entirely men and women just out of prison? What if most have never cooked or served before, and have barely two months to learn their trade?

KNIFE SKILLS follows the hectic launch of Edwins restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. In this improbable setting, with its mouthwatering dishes and its arcane French vocabulary, we discover the challenges of men and women finding their way after their release. We come to know three trainees intimately, as well as the restaurant’s founder, who is also dogged by his past. 

They all have something to prove, and all struggle to launch new lives — an endeavor as pressured and perilous as the ambitious restaurant launch of which they are a part.


Director’s Biography: Veteran filmmaker and journalist Thomas Lennon’s work in documentary film has earned him an Academy Award®, three Academy® nominations, two national Emmys, two duPont-Columbia awards, two George Foster Peabody awards, and two films that premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Lennon recently completed SACRED, which draws on the contributions of more than 40 filmmakers around the world to explore the role of prayer and ritual in daily life. He founded, with Ruby Yang, the China AIDS Media Project; their AIDS awareness messages were seen over a billion times on Chinese television and the Internet, making it probably the most far-reaching AIDS media campaign ever created.