News / USA

Most Entertaining Documentary May Win The Oscar

The Most Entertaining Documentary May Win The Oscari
X
February 19, 2013 12:45 PM
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. VOA’s Penelope Poulou reports on the five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary and the Motion Picture Academy’s criteria for the winner.
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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid