Documentary Feature Submissions

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:01 am

Heroin(e) (Elaine McMillion Sheldon) 8.5/10 - This is actually a Documentary Short finalist but I'll be reviewing here anyway. It was on Netflix so I might as well see it. This film focuses on three women: a paramedic, a judge and a street missionary who do their part to try and combat a very bad opioid epidemic in a county in West Virginia. This is eye-opening stuff. I've heard about this epidemic that's plaguing parts of American this way but seeing it is something else. Plus you can't help but be moved by the big-heartedness of these women who try and fight this plague and give addicts and former addicts dignity and hope. I have to admit I got choked up a bit near the end. A solid pick.

Will it get in? I will say yes. It's very relevant plus it's also woman-centric. Can it win? I don't know. I haven't seen the other entries yet but based on this, I say it has a good shot.

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby dws1982 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:32 pm

The only one of these I've seen so far is One of Us, which was a first-rate look at three people in various stages of leaving an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community in Brooklyn. I was not, putting it mildly a fan of Jesus Camp (from the same filmmakers), but this was first-rate. Would really like to see it get nominated.

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:41 am

Chasing Coral (Jeff Orlowski) 6/10 - This is the sequel of sorts to Chasing Ice. This time around scientists and filmmakers are documenting the worldwide phenomenon of coral bleaching which is an unfortunate consequence of climate change. Okay, my heart is absolutely with the filmmakers on this. I agree with their message and in my own small way, I do try my best to do my part on it. However, I'm here to assess this film as a piece of art and whether or not it works as such. For that, I say, it's fine. It doesn't really say anything that I don't already know and don't already believe. There are some great underwater cinematography but not enough make me excited about this as a film. It feels like preaching to the choir.

Will it get in? Doubtful. It will split its environmental advocacy vote with An Inconvenient Sequel and Jane so it will get lost in the shuffle. The song might make it though.

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:59 am

Icarus (Bryan Fogel) 8/10 - Cycling enthusiast and filmmaker Bryan Fogel wants to compete in an arduous bike marathon and decides he was going to dope up. He consults with a Russian doctor in charge of doping up Russian Olympians and thus exposing the Russian doping Olympic scandal. The film starts off feeling like a Morgan Spurlock-type documentary about the effects of doping on athletes but then takes a darker and more sinister turn midway when it suddenly becomes like Citizenfour as the documentary shifts to the plight of the Russian physician who decide to whistle blow on Russia's state-sanctioned plot to dope up its athletes to win international sporting events. I don't follow sports so I've only heard rumblings about the scandal so this documentary was quite informative and a little bit scary with its implications of what an authoritarian government is capable once they step out of bounds. I wish it could've gone a bit further in that direction but nevertheless, it's a solid doc.

Will it get in? It has a shot. i thought it was a bit frivolous in the first half but since it's a (Winter) Olympic year next year and Russia is always in the headlines so this definitely has some relevance.

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:07 am

Strong Island (Yance Ford) 8.5/10 - Twenty-five years ago, an unarmed young black man was gunned down and his white killer was set free. The man happens to be the filmmaker's older brother. Just going from that, you can tell that this is a deeply personal work. You really get to know this family, how ordinary they are, what decent normal human beings they are...until tragedy strikes. And the details of it and its repercussions will truly get any sane, decent person angry. This happened 25 years ago and it's still relevant to this day. I'm personally a bit wary when a documentarian makes it about them because they run into the danger of being self-important but not so with this. There's only raw honesty and sincerity with this story with some largely exemplary filmmaking too.

Will it get in? Yes. It even has a good shot at a win, I think. If nominated, Yance Ford will make history as the first openly trans African American man to get Oscar-nominated

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby Precious Doll » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:32 am

No Kedi - no surprise and proof that this branch needs an overhaul in their selection process.

Faces, Places is a pleasant surprise as like Kedi is not not typical of what this bunch select. However, it feels more like a 'you're an important filmmaker, your really old and this will probably be your last film' type nomination. As good as Faces, Places is it a relatively minor work from Varda.

I only hope that Abacus: Small Enough to Jail gets nominated and wins. Have zero interest in most of the other film and with the exception of the Wiseman film (and maybe Jane) have no intention of seeing the ones I haven't.
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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:57 pm

They've narrowed it down to 15:

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Educational Films and WGBH/FRONTLINE

“Chasing Coral,” Exposure Labs in partnership with The Ocean Agency & View Into the Blue in association with Argent Pictures & The Kendeda Fund

“City of Ghosts,” Our Time Projects and Jigsaw Productions

“Ex Libris – The New York Public Library,” Ex Libris Films

“Faces Places,” Ciné Tamaris

“Human Flow,” Participant Media and AC Films

“Icarus,” Netflix Documentary in association with Impact Partners, Diamond Docs, Chicago Media Project and Alex Productions

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” Paramount Pictures and Participant Media

“Jane,” National Geographic Studios in association with Public Road Productions

“LA 92,” Lightbox

“Last Men in Aleppo,” Larm Film

“Long Strange Trip,” Double E Pictures, AOMA Sunshine Films and Sikelia

“One of Us,” Loki Films

“Strong Island,” Yanceville Films and Louverture Films

“Unrest,” Shella Films and Little by Little Films

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:03 pm

I thought I'd do the same as I did in the Foreign Language Film thread and review the Documentary Feature submissions as well as a whole bunch of them are or will be available on Netflix.

Voyeur (Myles Kane/Josh Koury) 8/10 - This is about a motel owner who for decades has peeked into his guests' rooms without them knowing and he wanted writer Gay Talese to tell his story. First off, I was kind of surprised by how little sexual content there is in this film considering the subject matter. But then again, I thought, how can one fill a 90-plus minute about that subject matter? Well, as it turns out, it wasn't REALLY just about voyeurism per se. Not really knowing anything about the subject matter before watching it on a whim on Netflix helps because the film goes into certain directions I didn't expect. It's a fascinating documentary that is far less lurid than its title and synopsis suggests.

Will it get in? Possible but I think it's rather a bit slight compared to other films.

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:18 am

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Re: Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:06 am

Some thoughts on what I have seen off the list, many of which I've reviewed on the site:

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography - An intriguing portrait of an artist, but not Errol Morris' best film. I can't see this catching on at all.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson - Nowhere near as powerful as France's Oscar-nominated How to Survive a Plague, but I'm surprised how much this has disappeared from the conversation. I thought it was a very well-made and fascinating search for a life that didn't leave many answers.

Get Me Roger Stone - A frightening portrait of man perhaps most responsible for Trump's election, who also leaves no holds barred through the film. I don't see this going very far, but well worth checking out.

I Am Evidence - This has not picked up much traction at all, and I am baffled by that. It is a tight, haunting, and shocking look at rape kits and the pile-ups of untested kits that are stacking up in cities across America. With backing by Mariska Hargitay (who narrates the film) and two Oscar-nominated filmmakers, when I saw it this summer I thought it would be a film we would hear about again but it seems to have disappeared. With the right push, this could be a contender.

Last Men in Aleppo - A follow-up of sorts to last year's Oscar-winning short White Helmets, this powerful film could either ride on that films coattails or it may feel like territory that has already been rewarded.

My Scientology Movie - An entertaining look at Scientology, but there isn't much new here and it will certainly feel too gimmicky for the documentary branch.

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press - I found this film a structural mess that tries to cover way too much ground, but lots of people seem to love it. I wouldn't be surprised to see it on the short list, but I don't think it is moving on from there.

Obit. - This is my favorite doc I've seen so far this year, about the writers to write obituaries for the New York Times. Not only is it one of the best films about writing I've seen, but it also says a lot about so many bigger questions. Unfortunately, I don't think it will get much awards traction.

Oklahoma City - A well-made telling of the bombing and the aftermath, but not much more than an excellent PBS documentary.

One of Us - Brutal, gorgeously shot, and a story that feels new. This tale of Orthodox Jews trying to escape an abusive community is one that generates a lot of discussions, although I found the film a little one-sided. With a lot of talk already, I imagine this will be one we will hear about quite a bit.

The Reagan Show - Entertaining look at Ronald Reagan through B-Roll footage of him that also has some shockingly timely conversations. It might not be a big enough title to get traction, but I wouldn't mind seeing this one the shortlist.

My early predictions for the final five:
Chasing Coral
City of Ghosts
Cries from Syria
One of Us
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Documentary Feature Submissions

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:02 am

This news is a couple of weeks old, though Oscar Guy has probably already included it on the introduction page:

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/10/academ ... 201891620/

Of what I have seen a very quick rundown:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail - terrific documentary from Steve James and very topical. Deserves a place in the final five;

Big Sonia - great subject matter not given the great treatment it deserves. Seems to go down very well with people so may make it;

Dawson City: Frozen Time - good though a little overlong. Dealing with early silent cinema may help it get a foothold here;

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson - the director's previous film, How to Survive a Plague made the cut last time. I don't expect this lesser film to enter the race. That Marsha Johnson is barely in the film won't help it's prospects;

Faces, Places - one of Varda's best but it is not the sort of documentary the Academy nominates. Agnes Varda will have to settle for her well deserved Honorary Oscar;

The Farthest - I didn't care for this much but I must confess that I have zero interest in the subject matter - the search for life outer space. However, people LOVE this film. Stands a very good chance;

A Gray State - not what I thought it was going to be and I really thought it was something of a fraud. Can't see this going very far;

Kedi - a gem of the highest order. Given it's critical and commercial successes this should mean a shoe in for a nomination. But the documentary branch preference for 'weightier' subject material it wouldn't surprise me to see this overlooked;

LA92 - good coverage of the Rodney King story and it's aftermath. Given the subject matter is still relevant a quarter of a century later it stands a good chance;

Oklahoma City - interesting film but most of the subject matter has been covered before;

78/52 - nothing more than a DVD extra. Over extended and could loose over half it's running time and it would only improve the film;

Trophy - disturbing film to say the least. However, the subject matter will stop this being considered. People simply don't what to subject themselves to this and I can't blame them (saw it at a near empty cinema);

Whitney Can I Be Me - Hollywood does not like films too close to the bone. They simply will not want to acknowledge this film.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.


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