The Power of Documentaries…

on the Oscar Trail … is the headline of an interesting article in New York Times by Cara Buckley, January 6. It mentions the changed rules for documentaries and reflects a bit on the who could be the winner this year, where15 films are shortlisted waiting for the 5 nominees to be announced on January 14. A quote that outlines what could happen:

”… the Academy is known to favor show business movies and, lo, two of the last three winners of the documentary prize, along with one of this year’s front-runners, “Amy,” the story of Amy Winehouse, are about just that. In 2013, when the nominated documentaries delved into subjects like AIDS and conflict in the Middle East, the prize went to “Searching for Sugar Man,” about a tremendously gifted, woefully obscure musician from Detroit. For the 2014 awards, when the nominees included Oppenheimer’s artful, devastating “The Act of Killing,” about death squads in Indonesia, along with films about the Egyptian uprising and deadly covert American military operations, the Oscar went to “20 Feet From Stardom,” about backup singers who were largely forgotten despite having been instrumental (as it were) in making hits.

“The knock against the system is people think it favors films that are more about show business,” Mr. Powers (director of New York Film Festival) said. “Well, of course it does. The Association of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is an organization of show business people. Why shouldn’t it?”…”

Two other show business films are on the list of 15 are ”Listen to Me, Marlon” and ”What happened to Miss Simone”, as ”Amy” good films – anyway, allow me to cross fingers for ”The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer, produced by Danish company Final Cut for Real. This film (and ”The Act of Killing”) has, in terms of subject and innovative storytelling, already found a place in new documentary history. But first the nomination to come next week.

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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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