Sunday, February 25, 2007

Best Short Documentaries

Pianist Leon FleisherNathaniel Kahn's short documentary, "Two Hands", about pianist Leon Fleisher's 30-year struggle with the paralysis of his right hand is up for an Academy Award tonight.

Fleisher was a brilliant young pianist on track for stardom. He cut the thumb of his right hand while carrying a lawn chair. Later the fingers of his right hand curled up and would not extend. Fleisher struggled with the problem, seeking every type of therapy and treatment for decades, but found no cure -- until just a few years ago. Now, Fleisher, age 78, has successfully returned to a career as a concert pianist.

Liane Hansen talks with Kahn on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday (10:46). On the same page there are links to audio of Fleisher playing, and video clips from "Two Hands" as well as the other films nominated for Best Short Documentary; "The Blood of Yingzhou District", by Ruby Yang, about a boy who stops speaking after both parents die of AIDS; "Recycled Life", by Leslie Iwerks and Mike Glad, about people in Guatemala City who scavenge giant garbage dumps in order to survive; "Rehearsing a Dream", by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, about gifted high school students who spend a week working with leading actors, singers, and dancers.

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