News / USA

Most Entertaining Documentary May Win The Oscar

Penelope Poulou
Documentaries are the least popular film genre. They don’t showcase special effects or superstars. The protagonists are usually ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. The films don’t play in big suburban theaters, nor can they compete at the box office. But through political and social exposes they can change hearts and minds the world over. 

Dick Kirby’s Oscar-nominated documentary The Invisible War is a gut-wrenching expose on rape in the U.S. military.

The film contends that since 1991 about half a million military men and women have been sexually assaulted by their peers, and the U.S. military has done nothing to punish the culprits.

“The more we did these interviews, the more we really felt this is a film we had to really make and finish," said Dick Kirby. Like Kirby, most award-winning documentarians reveal hard truths that make their films tough to watch.

The Gatekeepers is a critics' favorite.  Israeli director Dror Moreh interviewed six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic spy agency, responsible for gathering intelligence in the occupied West Bank.

They said fighting Palestinian terrorists meant they had to bend the rules of morality and justify collateral damage.  The film exposes Israel's internal divisions and offers a grim prediction of the country's future if it doesn't make peace with its enemies.
 
Five Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat, a Palestinian villager, and Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, is a video diary of Emad's life under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. 

It's an account of how Palestinian villagers fought against the Israeli security barrier that was cutting them off from their lands.

How to Survive a Plague chronicles the early years of the AIDS epidemic and how a handful of activists stemmed its deadly tide.  David France made the film.

“Everything about the way medicine and healthcare is delivered and practiced today is an outgrowth of AIDS and AIDS activism," he explained. "So I wanted to tell a story of triumph and accomplishment.”

These four nominees tell powerful stories with groundbreaking footage.  But, none so far has captured the hearts of the Academy's voters as much as Searching for Sugarman.

Malik Bendjelloul’s film is about Rodriguez, a '70s rock musician from Detroit who had no idea that he became a music icon in South Africa.

“Right now, you'd have to say that that’s the putative favorite,” stated filmmaker Nina Seavey. The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker says the Academy seems to be going more for entertainment-driven documentaries and Searching for Sugarman fits the bill.

Although the Oscars may be a popularity contest, all five documentaries were selected primarily for their merit, not for their box office allure.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs