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Entries in The Gatekeepers (2)

Monday
Dec032012

Elusive As Ever: Academy's Documentary Shortlist

As if announcing NYFCC's winners and the nominations for the Annies on the same day weren't indicative that awards season is officially upon us, the Academy went ahead and released the 15-film shortlist of documentaries in contention for gold. For all the talk about the new voting system, this list seems to be no different that what we've seen in previous years. It has left off several of the year's most acclaimed titles. That being said, there is a vintage crop of five nominees waiting to happen since the inclusions here are, for the most part, all worthy of their spot. What can I say? It has been an absolutely incredible year for documentaries. But let's get to the most shocking snubs.

The Central Park Five, which won best doc at the NYFCC a few hours earlier, is the biggest exclusion. I reviewed the film at TIFF, where I fell for its exposé of institutionalized racism in the American justice system and I'm genuinely surprised that the voters didn't take to it. Queen of Versailles is another major surprise, though lacking the apparent "importance" factor of The Central Park Five, this one is not quite as inexplicable. When I first watched the film, I described it as "an exquisite treatise on everything that's wrong with our society today, shot through the lens of reality television" and I stand by it as one of the year's best films from any genre and medium. Then there's West of Memphis, one of Nathaniel's predictions, which despite massive thematic and structural differences with the Paradise Lost series, is quite possibly the victim of the previous film's success just last year. Further off the field where Marley and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, both of which I loved but expected not to see on today's list.

On the flip side, I'm ecstatic to see the Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers. It is by far the most important film to be released this year and one that I expect to see among the final nominees.

More worthy inclusions and the full list of nominees after the jump:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep282012

For Your Consideration: "Central Park Five" and "The Gatekeepers"

Amir here looking at two films we should keep an eye on in Oscar's documentary race.

"The Central Park Five"

I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to judging the quality of documentaries, I have a particular bias. My favourite docs tend to be innovative films that aren’t necessarily “significant” in the grand scheme of things, like Grizzly Man or Senna, but I often find myself giving a pass to films that use a conventional structure to tell an important story, merely because thee subject matter does the work, towering above the film itself. Every once in a while, however, I’m confronted with a film that utilizes the old “talking heads intercut with archival footage” formula so powerfully that it becomes impossible to imagine it in any other way. Two such films came my way during TIFF that absolutely blew me away.

The first is Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon’s The Central Park Five, which tells the story of five black and Latino youths who were arrested in 1989 for the alleged rape and physical abuse of a white female jogger in Central Park. Despite a lack of evidence to support the charges and their youth (they were all between 14 and 17), they each ended up serving several years in prison or juvenile detention centres. In 2002, more than a decade after their first trial, the real criminal stepped out and confessed; DNA evidence supported his claim. But the irreversible damage had been done. [more after the jump...]

Click to read more ...