Hollywood headlines over the last couple of weeks were full of stories of confusion over the newly installed online voting procedures for the list of nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards. Issues included locked passwords, odd pull-down menus, a deadline extension, and voter rage, yet the nominees were announced this morning at 5:38 a.m. PST as planned.
Naturally there will be lots of ink over the smiles, tears and head scratching over who was omitted in the big categories (directors Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, Christopher Nolan for example).
But let’s focus on an equally relevant category – Best Documentary Film. Rarely receiving the press, box office or accolades of the Hollywood blockbusters, let’s take a moment to champion some truly riveting and informed films and help give them their place in the sun.
Nominees for Best Documentary Film
Out of the fifteen short-listed films announced in early December for Oscar’s Best Documentary, five films were cited this morning. The nominees for Best Documentary Films are:
“5 Broken Cameras” by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
“Five Broken Cameras” depicts Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat capturing the violence and destruction in his West Bank village over five years through each one of his five cameras that end up being destroyed. Burnat gave his footage to Israeli co-director Guy Davidi to edit.
“The Gatekeepers” (Directed by Dror Moreh, but official nominees to be determined)
“The Gatekeepers” documents six former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet, which is Israel’s secret service agency, as they speak frankly about their country’s counter-terrorism campaign.
“How To Survive a Plague” (Directed by David France, but official nominees to be determined)
A smart and moving portrait of the AIDS crisis through the work of activist group, ACT UP that was culled from 31 independent videographers as well as NY Public Library’s AIDS Activists videotapes. “How To Survive a Plague” is a piece of history to be remembered about a haunting disease, as well as social activism with a clear message.
“The Invisible War” (Directed by Kirby Dick, but official nominees to be determined)
“The Invisible War” explores one of the military’s most shameful secrets: sexual assault within the ranks. A powerfully important film, “The Invisible War” won the Audience Award at Sundance and has already forced change in all military sexual investigations after Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta screened the film.
“Searching for Sugar Man” (Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, but official nominees to be determined)
“Searching for Sugar Man” is the feel-good, crowd pleaser of the year. The question is will that translate to Oscar love? Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul set out to find one of his favorite singers of the 1970’s – Detroit’s Sixto Rodriguez. What his search uncovers, surprises.
Although much happiness for the filmmakers above, there’s disappointment for the ten films who didn’t quite make the final five. Some notable documentaries not included as the final nominees are “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” “Bully,” and “Chasing Ice,” (although “Chasing Ice” did score a Best Original Song nomination for “Before My Time”).
Get ready for the marketing campaigns and lots of opinion polls on who should and shouldn’t win. But for now let’s celebrate the good fortune for these documentaries and their filmmakers.
The 85th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, February 24th from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and will be broadcast on ABC. Seth MacFarlane hosts.
For other film articles by Lori Huck, check out:
2012 Year in Review: Best Documentary Films
2012 Year in Review: Best Foreign Films
‘Searching for Sugar Man’: A Wonderful Mystery Tour for Singer-Songwriter Rodriguez