Academy announces 15 feature films that will compete in the category

By Joey Nolfi
December 06, 2016 at 08:55 PM EST
Netflix; M. Osterreicher/Courtesy of ESPN Films; IFC Films; Sony Pictures Classics
10/07/16
type
  • Movie

She might have been snubbed for her directorial work on 2014’s Selma, but Ava DuVernay could find herself with an Academy Award nomination in January, as the acclaimed filmmaker’s latest project, 13th, is among 15 films advancing in the Best Documentary Oscar race.

The Academy announced Tuesday its shortlist of nonfiction titles that will compete for five nomination slots, including DuVernay’s critically-lauded chronicle of the prison-industrial complex as a continuation of slavery following the ratification of the 13th amendment to the constitution in 1865. The film, which premiered theatrically and on Netflix streaming earlier this year, became the first documentary in history to open the New York Film Festival in October, and has already won Critics Choice Documentary Awards for Best Director, Best Documentary Feature (in the TV/Streaming category), and Best Political Documentary.

Presumed Oscar frontrunner O.J.: Made in America also made the Academy’s list shortly after winning the LAFCA Best Editing award — a rarity for a non-narrative film — and the NYFCC‘s Best Documentary honor. The five-part documentary was produced and directed by Ezra Edelman for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series and premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in January before opening theatrically in May. ABC also aired the feature’s full eight hours in June. 

Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, which examines writer James Baldwin’s impact on historical race relations in America to comment on the contemporary struggle for racial equality, also appears among the crop of potential nominees. Other films highlighted include the Daisy Ridley-narrated The Eagle Huntress, about a 13-year-old Kazakh girl attempting to break through the male-dominated field of eagle hunting, Weiner, Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg‘s portrait of Anthony Weiner, and James D. Solomon’s The Witness, which follows Kitty Genovese’s brother as he investigates the circumstances surrounding her 1964 murder. 

Films from previous winners and nominees land a spot in the group, too, namely Robert Kenner’s Command and Control, Roger Ross Williams’ Life, Animated, and Alex Gibney’s Zero Days

According to a press release, 145 films were originally submitted for consideration. The Academy’s Documentary Branch held a preliminary round of voting to determine the shortlist, and will vote again to select the five nominees from these 15 titles. Nominations are scheduled to be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 24. 

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. ABC’s live broadcast of the ceremony begins at 7 p.m. ET. 

Check out the Academy’s full list of films advancing in the Best Documentary Oscar race below. 

“Cameraperson,” Big Mouth Productions

“Command and Control,” American Experience Films/PBS

“The Eagle Huntress,” Stacey Reiss Productions, Kissiki Films and 19340 Productions

“Fire at Sea,” Stemal Entertainment

“Gleason,” Dear Rivers Productions, Exhibit A and IMG Films

“Hooligan Sparrow,” Little Horse Crossing the River

“I Am Not Your Negro,” Velvet Film

“The Ivory Game,” Terra Mater Film Studios and Vulcan Productions

“Life, Animated,” Motto Pictures and A&E IndieFilms

“O.J.: Made in America,” Laylow Films and ESPN Films

“13th,” Forward Movement

“Tower,” Go-Valley

“Weiner,” Edgeline Films

“The Witness,” The Witnesses Film

“Zero Days,” Jigsaw Productions

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  • Movie
release date
  • 10/07/16
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