Where to Watch This Year's Oscar-nominated Feature and Short Documentaries

From war-torn Syria, to inside The Lion King, the Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short films vary in topic and genre

Conquered all the 2017 Academy Awards Best Picture nominees with just a day to spare? That means there's plenty of time to screen this year's feature and short documentary nominees.

From war-torn Syria, to inside The Lion King, the Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short films vary in topic and genre. Luckily, many of the films require only a Netflix subscription to view. Here's how to watch them, now.

How to Watch the Best Documentary Feature Nominees:

Fire at Sea

From Italian director Gianfranco Rosi, Fire at Sea tackles the current refugee crisis in Europe, centered around the island of Lampedusa, which has welcomed migrants in masses.

The film already has a major recognition to its name: it was the first documentary, ever, to win the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival (aka, the Golden Bear).

The nomination is Rosi and producer Donatella Palermo's first. While the DVD won't be available for purchase until March, it can be streamed now on Amazon Live Video and on iTunes.

Watch the trailer below.

I Am Not Your Negro

Based around 30-pages of unpublished letters written by late American novelist James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro explores the current status of race relations in the U.S.

Baldwin's original, unfinished manuscript notes were biographies of civil rights leaders like Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The film is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Raoul Peck.

I Am Not Your Negro is currently in theaters. Check your local listings or search for screenings through the documentary's website.

Watch the trailer below.

Life, Animated

Owen Suskind, an autistic man who was once unable to communicate verbally, learned to talk to his family through Disney animated films – Life, Animated, from director Roger Ross Williams, tells his story.

Williams is a previous Academy Award winner: he won Best Documentary Short in 2010 for Music by Prudence.

Life, Animated is available to watch on demand through YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu and Google Play.

Watch the trailer below.

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O.J.: Made in America

It has been over two decades since the conclusion of the O.J. Simpson murder trial, but the public is still fascinated by the former star football player.

O.J.: Made in America covers the gamut of Simpson's life, starting with a history of L.A. race relations and ending with the onetime celebrity, convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping, and moldering in prison.

Directed by Ezra Edelman and from ESPN, the documentary is a whopping 10-hours long, and can be streamed in three parts on Hulu and five parts on Watch ESPN.

Watch the trailer below.


Directed by Ava DuVernay, 13TH draws on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery.

Yet, racial inequality continued in America. 13TH explores the history of racism in America, with particular focus on the disproportionate number of black men and women incarcerated in U.S. prisons.

Good news: all you need is a Netflix account to watch 13TH.

Watch the trailer below.

How to Watch the Best Documentary Short Nominees:


Following patients, their families and their doctors, Extremis explores the complexity and intensity of end-of-life decisions. Set at a hospital, the 24-minutes long short comes from Dan Krauss, a previous Academy Award nominee.

Extremis is currently streaming on Netflix.

Watch the trailer below.

4.1 Miles

This 2016 short documentary follows – according to its description – "a coast guard captain on a small Greek island [who] is suddenly charged with saving thousands of refugees from drowning at sea."

The 22-minute film from Daphne Matziaraki – like several other of the 2017 documentary nominees – explores one aspect of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Matziaraki told The Mercury News that she will bring the coast guard captain – Kyriakos Papadopoulos – as her date on Sunday, calling him "the ultimate hero."

4.1 Miles can be streamed for free on the New York Times website.

Watch the trailer below.

Joe's Violin

According to the short's website, in Joe's Violin "a donated musical instrument forges an improbable friendship between 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Feingold and 12-year-old Bronx school girl Brianna Perez."

Feingold donated his violin to an instrument drive for public school students sponsored by N.Y.C.'s radio station WQXR. He traded a carton of cigarettes for the violin after World War II while in a camp for displaced persons, said Variety.

The film can be watched now through the New Yorker's The Screening Room.

Watch the trailer below.

Watani: My Homeland

Watani: My Homeland follows one Syrian family for three years – covering their escape from their home of Aleppo in the war-torn country to their eventual search for a new life in Germany.

Hala Kami, who is profiled in the film, will be attending the Oscars on Sunday, Deadline confirmed. Her attendance was in question after the initial implementation of President Trump's controversial travel ban, which stopped travel to America from Syria, among other Middle Eastern countries.

The short is still in theaters. Find a screening, here.

Watch the trailer below.

The White Helmets

The White Helmets is a volunteer organization of Syrians who visit scenes of bombings to save those trapped in the rubble or injured by the blasts. The documentary short follows a team of White Helmets rescuers.

Much like Watani: My Homeland's subjects, the White Helmets team leader profiled in the documentary was originally unsure if he could attend this year's ceremony in the wake of the travel ban because of his Syrian nationality. The film's cinematographer, Khaled Khateeb, is also Syrian.

Both men said in a statement last week, however, that they will be able to attend, although Khateeb was barred from entering the country on Friday en route to the awards.

"It will give us an important platform for the voices of Syrian children and women trapped under the rubble as a result of the airstrikes and artillery shelling, and for the voices of thousands of displaced Syrians who have been forced from their homes," Raed Saleh said.

The White Helmets is currently streaming on Netflix.

Watch the trailer below.

The Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony. See all the Oscar nominees and get your own ballot here!

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