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Meet the Sundance-Supported Oscar Nominees: Open Heart

Nate von Zumwalt, Editorial Coordinator

Leading up to the 85th edition of the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24, we’re profiling all 13 of this year’s Sundance-supported Oscar nominees. Click here for the full list of nominees.

In Africa, where juvenile disease runs rampant and affordable healthcare is all but nonexistent, the Salam Center in Sudan offers the continent’s only free-of-charge, state-of-the-art cardiac hospital. That’s where director Kief Davidson’s documentary short film follows eight Rwandan children who have been chosen to receive open heart surgery to treat their life-threatening rheumatic heart disease. Along the way, we meet a pair of selfless doctors who are committed to their professional duties with an intensely personal resolve. Despite unrelenting work days and compromised pay, Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza, Rwanda’s lone, overworked public cardiologist, and Dr. Gino Strada, the Salam Center’s head surgeon are dedicated to instilling faith—and eventually health—in those afflicted.

Davidson’s gripping doc short magnifies the hope in a place where dejection prevails, and the humanity in an era when selfishness abounds. Open Heart is a Stories of Change film and was supported by Sundance Institute and the Skoll Foundation. Click here to learn more about the partnership and initiative.

  • Open Heart is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject
  • Kief Davidon previously directed feature-length documentaries The Devil’s Miner and Kassim the Dream.
  • The Salam Center in Sudan is operated by Emergency, an Italian NGO.

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A man in a beige shirt and with medium-length dark hair kneels in the dirt and looks over his right shoulder at the camera

Who Was… Mark Silverman?

Mark Silverman allied himself with the Coen brothers early in his and their careers. Here, he works as co-producer on the set of “Raising Arizona.”

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