Nascent is proof of how short films can impart big messages. It’s a simple premise: two children, a Christian boy and a Muslim girl, give their perspectives on growing up in the divided and desperately poor Central African Republic. Despite differences in their upbringings and religious backgrounds, the pair share a hopeful vision of peace that would allow them to be friends. This could have been an awkward film or, worse, a treacly one. But in the hands of director Lindsay Branham (who attended school in Telluride in 5th and 6th grade), the result is a thoughtful and powerful documentary that asks the simple question: Why can’t we all just get along?
A remarkable number of veterans return from America’s interventions shattered, committing suicide at a rate of almost one per hour. Almost Sunrise looks at this epidemic through the lens of two men who fought together in Iraq. After returning to the U.S., Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson struggled for years before deciding to walk across the country to help heal themselves. What they find is that these steps are only the beginning of the longest journey of their lives.
This documentary tells a tale of physical and mental challenges — and much more. It introduces the term “moral injury” (the psychological damage service members face when experiences on the battlefield challenge their moral beliefs) and asks what we take forever from the young men and women who sacrifice so much for their country. This film shows what it requires to reclaim and reorient your life when you’ve been to hell and back. It’s not an easy path, but it’s one worth taking.