While nearly anyone who follows international affairs has read countless reviews over the depiction of torture in Oscar-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty and the hard-to-believe escape of American hostages from Iran in Argo, this year's crop of Oscar nominees offer a take on global issues beyond water boarding and bad '70s mustaches. Here are trailers for six films that address global issues you probably haven't heard much about.
1. War Witch, Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film
War Witch is the dramatic story of a 12-year-old girl in an unnamed sub-Saharan African country who is the sole survivor of a government massacre in her village, and her subsequent capture by a rebel group. Because of her miraculous ability to stay alive, her captors begin to believe she holds supernatural powers. The film depicts the violent theft of a young girl's childhood, the endemic use of child soldiers in certain parts of Africa (including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was filmed) and a brave woman's quest to overcome these insurmountable obstacles to save the life of her unborn child.
2. The Gatekeepers, Nominee, Best Documentary Feature
A rare and comprehensive glimpse into Israel's most revered intelligence service, The Gatekeepers features interviews with all of the living former heads of Shin Bet. The revelations in this compelling documentary cover everything from Israel's methods for identifying suspected terrorists in Palestinian villages and the impact of the first suicide bombings to the limits of military force in a region as complex as the Middle East. The result is an unprecedented oral history of one of the world's most efficient clandestine services.
3. No, Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film
The worlds of modern advertising and politics meet in this stylish film set in Chile in the late 1980s. The result, of course, is a look at life under one of Latin America's most notorious dictators, Augusto Pinochet. Starring Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal as an anti-Pinochet ad man seeking to thwart the regime's quest for legitimacy among the public during a referendum after 15 years of dictatorship, No resonates as a precursor to contemporary political theatrics and as an examination of totalitarian methods in the modern age.
4. The Invisible War, Nominee, Best Documentary Feature
As the U.S. military begins finally to grant equal opportunities for women, The Invisible War exposes a dark element within the armed forces community—the ongoing and largely ignored sexual assault of American female soldiers. According to the film, more than 16,000 military women were sexually assaulted in 2009 alone. The Invisible War raises questions about the ability of legal structures both within and outside of the military to deal with sexual assault, and is a call to action on behalf of the estimated half a million women soldiers who have experienced such trauma within one of the most powerful institutions in America.
5. Asad, Nominee, Best Short Film, Live Action
This 17 minute dramatic short is, like War Witch, a coming of age story set among the harsh environs of Africa, and features a young boy forced to choose between a life of piracy or that of an honest fisherman. Using an all Somali cast of refugees who had fled to South Africa, the project is the brainchild of Bryan Buckley, who was inspired to write Asad following a film project for the UN Human Rights Council in documenting Somali refugees in northern Kenya in 2010.
6. 5 Broken Cameras, Nominee, Best Documentary Feature
5 Broken Cameras offers a sad look into village life in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat documents his community's efforts at peaceful resistance against Israeli settlers and the military forces behind them, which unfortunately descend into conflict more times than not. The tale is creatively told through the lives of five cameras, each destroyed over the course of five years. While it's the first Palestinian film ever nominated for an Oscar, that milestone was nearly sullied by Burnat's detention this week at the Los Angeles airport, where it has been reported that he was threatened with deportation.