The 11th annual DocuWeek showcase kicks off tomorrow night, Friday, August 17 continuing through August 23 at two locations in Los Angeles before traveling to other parts of the country. Presented by the International Documentary Association (IDA), the program has featured 21 films that were eventually nominated for Academy Awards, with five capturing the little gold man. One of the goals of the showcase is to help filmmakers meet the AMPAS rules for Academy Award consideration, which requires that a doc play for one week in Los Angeles or Manhattan by August 31. (A multi-state theatrical roll-out is also required by November 15.) Another is to encourage exhibitors "to dedicate more screens to nonfiction films," according to a statement by IDA Executive Director Sandra Ruch.

The 12 feature-length docs include War/Dance, a tale of children in a refugee camp in Uganda, which moved our own Kim Voynar to write: "I can't imagine anyone could watch War/Dance without feeling heart-wrenched over these kids' stories and being touched by their heart and courage." She also liked Nanking, about Japan's invasion of China's capital city in 1937, describing it as "deeply affecting." Chops looks at high school jazz musicians; Erik Davis said "you're overcome by this overwhelming feeling to hug each one" during the film's best moments. In the Shadow of the Moon, Hear and Now, Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone, A Promise to the Dead, The Price of Sugar, Protagonist, Taxi to the Darkside and We Are Together will also be screened. The IDA site has complete information.

AJ Schnack's Kurt Cobain About a Son will also play during DocuWeek. At his blog, Schnack notes that "somewhat secretly, the opening round of competition for this year's Oscar for Documentary Feature is about to play out in theaters all around Los Angeles," as films attempt to meet the AMPAS criteria. Schnack has a detailed list and information about where the docs are playing, as well as his comments on a number of them.