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TO SUNDAY

After years of neglect, documentaries have recently proven to be commercially viable. But when it comes to short films—even those nominated for Academy Awards—it’s still hard to turn a decent profit. While they won’t show at the local multiplex, all three slates of Oscar-contending shorts—documentary, live action, and animated—are being screened this week at the National Archives. In the live-action category (at noon Saturday, March 4), the buzz is strongest for two films: Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy Six Shooter, in which a widower played by Brendan Gleeson takes an absurd train ride, and Ulrike Grote’s The Runaway, which opens with a man being greeted at his door by a boy who calls him Daddy. Among the animated shorts (at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4), the best notices have gone to John Canemaker’s The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, which uses rudimentary animation and archival material to recount the hardly heartwarming tale of the animator’s criminally inclined father; and Anthony Lucas’ The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, a Victorian-style adventure about an aerialist who seeks to save his homeland. (One Man Band is pictured.) The short docs (at noon Sunday, March 5) are heavy on Africa and World War II: God Sleeps in Rwanda chronicles women who are rebuilding that country’s society; The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club concerns a South African photojournalist who committed suicide after documenting the horrors of Sudan; and The Mushroom Club follows survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan. The shorts screen, along with nominees for best documentary, until Sunday, March 5, at the National Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater, Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW. Free. (202) 357-5000. (Mark Jenkins)