Hunger Ward Gets Oscar Nod, MTV Pick-up – Highlights Empathy In Ethical Filmmaking
A heartfelt congratulations to SDFF alum Skye Fitzgerald, whose deeply humanistic observational doc, Hunger Ward: The Last Hope Against War and Starvation, was recently shortlisted for an Academy Award® for live-action documentary short. A visceral and intensely emotional document of a doctor and nurse attempting to save starving Yemeni children, the film gives a human aspect to six years of war and famine. The film is the third in Fitzgerald’s “Humanitarian Cinema Trilogy,” which also includes 50 Feet from Syria (2015, 39 mins), a film focused on doctors working on the Syrian border, and SDFF 2019 selection Lifeboat (2018, 34 mins), which showcased the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean by following search and rescue operations off the Libyan Coast. The uncompromising commitment to empathy as a filmmaking practice that defines this trio of films appears in its fullest aspect in Hunger Ward, which renders its subjects emotionally legible and ineluctably human.
As with the other films in Fitzgerald’s Humanist Cinema Trilogy, Hunger Ward has not only met with critical enthusiasm, it has also found itself in excellent company after being picked up by MTV Documentary Films in late February. While such a sobering, difficult piece of work may seem like an odd match for MTV at first glance, the music giant’s documentary filmmaking department has begun acquiring an impressive slate of films over the past year, from SDFF fave Gay Chorus Deep South (David Charles Rodrigues, 2019), to much-anticipated short A Life Too Short (Safyah Usmani, 2021) to Oscar contender 76 Days (Hao Wu, 2020), which was shot inside Wuhan hospitals during the early COVID days. Hunger Ward is set to premiere on ViacommCBS digital linear streaming platform Pluto TV on March 1, where it will join a growing roster of compelling documentaries. In addition, Hunger Ward will continue to stream at film festivals and special events, many of which include panel discussions and/or Q&As. The details for these upcoming screenings are available on the film’s website under “See The Film.”
Fitzgerald’s “Humanitarian Cinema” films, Hunger Ward included, have been honored by critics, appearing on Academy Awards® shortlists, garnering nominations for Emmy’s®, and IDA awards. However, while his artistry as a filmmaker has been critically acclaimed, his work is also hugely important in calling attention to humanitarian issues by capturing the emotional stakes of his subjects without losing sight of the political, economic and systemic issues that produce human suffering and desperation in the first place. The humanitarian issues at the center of his films emotionally palpable, immediate and actionable. To that end, the Hunger Ward website includes supplemental information on the crisis in Yemen and ways to get involved.