CATEGORIES Documentary, Foreign Language, Independent, Politics, Oscar Watch, Religious, Cinematical Indie, War, Movie News, Oscar News, CinematicalDocumentary filmmakers deserve much more love and attention than they receive. One way to get more attention is to make the list of 15 documentaries short-listed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Variety has this year's list and cites three Iraq War-themed films as being "center stage": Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's Body of War, Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight (which Cinematical's Kim Voynar gave high marks when it played at Sundance) and Richard Robbins' Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience.
Kim is a self-styled "documentary dork" -- her words, not mine -- and wrote a column two months ago about films she thought "have (or ought to have) a shot at Oscar gold." She included No End in Sight, as well as the following docs that all made the short list: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix-Fine's War/Dance, Michael Moore's Sicko, Daniel Karslake's For the Bible Tells Me So, and Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's Nanking. Kim was pulling for Logan Smalley's Darius Goes West, which sadly did not make the list. Other notable exclusions included David Singleton's In the Shadow of the Moon and Seth Gordon's The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
Here are the remaining eight that did make the list. First, the ones we've covered so far: Tony Kaye's Lake of Fire, Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen's The Rape of Europa, Weijun Chen's Please Vote for Me and Peter Raymont's A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman. Next, the ones we haven't seen yet: Steven Okazaki's White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which has played on HBO), Alex Gibney's Taxi to the Dark Side (due for release in January), Bill Haney's The Price of Sugar and Tricia Regan's Autism: The Musical.
Now the Academy's Documentary Branch will review the 15 films and narrow the list still further to the final five nominees, which will be announced on January 22.