Oscar Documentary Nominations

The documentary short list of 15 became 5 – to compete for the feature documentary Oscars. How many have you seen? Many FB’s have posted that question during the last few days after the final nomination had been announced. All 5 is my answer, so here come my comments to the 2017 Oscar selection. Let me again add that these are films members of the Academy Award of Motion Pictures have chosen. I have no idea of how many have been involved in the decision process – and let me also add again that Oscar is American and has always been_ One out of 5 film is from outside USA.

That one is Gianfranco Rosi’s ”Fire at Sea”, which is a good film but not extraordinary compared to many other films on the refugee topic. ”13th” by Ava DuVernay, mentioned by many as an outsider who could win is content-wise a strong Netflix title that deals with racism in the US historically – and pc – telling its story in an editing that is done according to words (interview-based) and not to image. A tv program. Then there is much more film and cinematic feeling in Raoul Peck’s strong I am not Your Negro that I have reviewed on this site. The same goes for the film that everyone thinks will win, OJ: Made in America (photo) by Ezra Edelman, reviewed by Allan Berg, when it was broadcasted on Danish television. Finally ”Life. Animated” by Roger Rose Williams is a well crafted sweet and charming documentary that impresses you because of the main character, who is autistic but in many ways overcomes his handicap. A crowd-pleaser.

Missing a film? Indeed: Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson that was on the list of 15 but did not make it to the list of 5. Even if it is special compared to the topics in the films mentioned (racism, refugees, autism), there are so many human and ethical questions raised in her film about making films and deal with conflicts– in a way that should touch all of us because she talks with passion and compassion.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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