The Best Documentary Feature Oscar finalists were announced this morning, together with all the other categories – the entire list of nominees has been posted by the Academy here. The documentaries are listed below. Congratulations to all the nominees – which were all on the DOC NYC Short List, and include two Sundance alums! – and good luck on Sunday, February 26!
FIRE AT SEA
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
OJ: MADE IN AMERICA
Congrats also to the Documentary Shorts nominees:
JOE’S VIOLIN (produced by DOC NYC’s Raphaela Neihausen)
WATANI: MY HOMELAND
THE WHITE HELMETS
In addition, a documentary figures in the Best Music (Original Song) race, via “The Empty Chair,” featured in JIM:THE JAMES FOLEY STORY.
The 2017 Sundance Film Festival kicks off tonight, Thursday, January 19, and runs through Sunday, January 29. Because of my responsibilities as a Programming Associate for the festival, w(n)td will be on hiatus for the event’s duration – regular daily weekday posting will not resume until Monday, January 30.
Follow me on Twitter, to keep up with Sundance, and also follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list to experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers.
To catch up with Sundance doc programming, here are links to my series of 2017 Sundance documentary profiles, divided by festival section:
US Documentary Competition
CITY OF GHOSTS
THE NEW RADICAL
NOBODY SPEAK: HULK HOGAN, GAWKER AND TRIALS OF A FREE PRESS
QUEST: THE FURY AND THE SOUND (pictured)
WATER & POWER: A CALIFORNIA HEIST
World Cinema Documentary Competition
THE GOOD POSTMAN
IN LOCO PARENTIS (pictured)
IT’S NOT YET DARK
JOSHUA: TEENAGER VS SUPERPOWER
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD
THE WORKERS CUP
BENDING THE ARC
CRIES FROM SYRIA
GIVE ME FUTURE
AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER
LEGION OF BROTHERS (pictured)
LONG STRANGE TRIP
RANCHER, FARMER, FISHERMAN
TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON
TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
THIS IS EVERYTHING: GIGI GORGEOUS
TRUMPED: INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL UPSET OF ALL TIME
UNTITLED BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB DOCUMENTARY
18 BLACK GIRLS / BOYS AGES 1-18 WHO HAVE ARRIVED AT THE SINGULARITY AND ARE THUS SPIRITUAL MACHINES: $X IN AN EDITION OF $97 QUADRILLION
DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN? (pictured)
WORLD WITHOUT END (NO REPORTED INCIDENTS)
THE MARS GENERATION
LOOK AND SEE: A PORTRAIT OF WENDELL BERRY
ABSTRACT: THE ART OF DESIGN
THE HISTORY OF COMEDY
HOT GIRLS WANTED: TURNED ON
TIME: THE KALIEF BROWDER STORY (pictured)
New to VOD on Vudu today, Thursday, January 19:
TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE
Ric Esther Bienstock
Documentary Edge 2013
Hot Docs, London, Margaret Mead, Dockufest, Hot Springs, Zurich, Bergen, Fantastic Fest
An exposé of the human organ black market.
I previously wrote about the doc here.
Coming to PBS’s Reel South series next Sunday, January 29:
THE STATE OF EUGENICS
Dawn Sinclair Shapiro
Columbia Law School screening (November 2016)
An investigation into North Carolina’s four-decade-long modern eugenics program.
Between 1933 and 1974, the state of North Carolina sterilized an estimated 7600 residents without their consent – but legally. Like the majority of the US, NC had adopted eugenics laws prior to World War II, convinced that the dodgy science would help maintain the strength of genetically superior Americans. Targeting those deemed “undesirable” – poor, disabled, feeble-minded, or promiscuous – these laws introduced compulsory sterilization, and in more extreme cases, euthanasia. Class, race, and gender played into these programs, affecting poor white and black residents alike, with NC among the most aggressive of states enforcing the practice until an ACLU lawsuit brought led to reforms. The public had long forgotten this dark chapter of the state’s past until the Winston-Salem Journal revisited the law’s impact in a series of articles in 2002. While fairly conventional in its approach, Shapiro’s film attempts to broaden the story further, giving voice to survivors of the practice, researchers and journalists who exposed it, and lawmakers who have championed reparations to in some small part make up for the abuses of the system.
Coming to theatres next Friday, January 27:
IDFA, New Directors/New Films, Dubai, True/False, DocAviv, Moscow, Sheffield, Melbourne, Stockholm, Hong Kong, Istanbul
A poetic meditation on the environmental impact of China’s rapid economic development.
Taking a more experimental approach than his past work, the social issue documentarian exposes the ecological and human costs of industry through unsettling tableaux of destroyed landscapes set to Dante’s THE DIVINE COMEDY. Using visually impactful images of the stark borders between verdant fields and neighboring desolation, the filmmaker demonstrates the devastation wrought by dangerous coal mining practices. Occasionally, he inserts naked figures within these hellscapes, but these unnecessary stylistic flourishes carry far less weight than images of miners and their families suffering from their toxic work. While its attempt to merge nonfiction with video art is not always successful, the film’s imagery proves disturbingly memorable.
Coming to theatres next Friday, January 27:
THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES
Jared P Scott
Hot Docs 2016
DOC NYC, Sheffield, Telluride Mountainfilm, Antenna Doc, Waimea Ocean Festival, Wild & Scenic
Global unrest viewed through the lens of climate change.
I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC, saying:
Taking an eye-opening approach to climate change, Scott’s film reframes concern for the environment into a question of international security. Viewed by the US military and security experts as a “threat multiplier” for instability, climate change is repositioned at the heart of current global unrest. Droughts and floods lead to food shortages, conflict over resources and mass displacement. Will the world succumb to these cascading disasters or take steps to prevent them?
Coming to PBS’s American Experience this coming Tuesday, January 24:
American Experience (January 2017)
A portrait of the woman whose writing popularized the environmental movement.
Rachel Carson was a marine biologist working for the US Fish and Wildlife Services when she began to combine her lifelong love of writing with an interest in making science accessible, penning articles for the likes of READER’S DIGEST. Eventually, she transitioned to becoming a full-time author, after her second book, THE SEA AROUND US, became a best-seller and National Book Award Winner. While this and the other books in her sea trilogy changed the way readers viewed the oceans and the life they sustained, Carson affected the most significant change in public perception with SILENT SPRING, her 1962 book exposing the hidden dangers of pesticides like DDT, which had been unquestioningly embraced by the US government since WWII as part of a shortsighted view of “better living through chemistry.” Ferrari hews close to the standard American Experience format in this illuminating if conventionally constructed profile, reviewing her subject’s accomplishments through narration as well as talking head commentary from Carson biographers. The film also relates Carson’s pseudo-lesbian relationship with Dorothy Freeman and her struggle with cancer which claimed the author’s life less than two years after her groundbreaking book’s publication, which remains a cornerstone of environmental awareness to this day.