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#Oscars2018 Foreign-Language Film: Today, September 26, submission from Canada.
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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

87th Academy Awards Documentary Features Shortlist


The past two days have been full of news about the awards season but also about January 2015 film festivals but I hope today is going to be more silent as we need a well-deserved break. So decided to leave for today the news about the fifteen (15) -out of the one hundred thirty-four (134) originally submitted- documentary features that advance in the voting process for the 2015 Oscars.

The Academy’s Documentary Branch determined the shortlist in a preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles.

Art and Craft, Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker, USA
The Case Against 8, Ben Cotner and Ryan White, USA
Citizen Koch, Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, USA
Citizenfour, Laura Poitras, Germany and USA
Finding Vivian Maier, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, USA
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, Brian Knappenberger, USA
Jodorowsky's Dune, Frank Pavich, USA and France
Keep On Keepin' On, Alan Hicks, USA
The Kill Team, Dan Krauss, USA
Last Days in Vietnam, Rory Kennedy, USA
Life Itself, Steve James, USA
The Overnighters, Jesse Moss, USA
The Salt of Earth, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders, France, Brazil and Italy
Tales of the Grim Sleeper, Nick Broomfield, USA and UK
Virunga, Orlando von Einsiedel, UK and Congo

Was aware of several documentaries, have seen a few and disliked a couple; but got interested in the one about the art forger -Art and Craft- and most of all, the one by and about a director/drummer, Keep On Keepin' On. Can't help but to notice that there are only two (2) documentaries that do NOT have American money; still there are 2 French co productions and 2 British co productions plus the doc from Cannes 2014 by Wim Weders that besides being a French co production money also came from Brazil and Italy.

Haven't seen yet Citizenfour but yes I am guessing based upon the so many positive reviews plus the amount of buzz that film is the front-runner to win an Oscar. With the award season advancing and awards starting to appear get confirmation that the possible race could be between Citizenfour and Life Itself as both deal with stories that are too close to Americans in general and one to American Cinema. Then we can not deny that there is always the genre issue as Citizenfour director is a woman, but let's hope that we continue shattering any type of crystal (or not) ceilings.

The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.

Below you will find info about the documentary film as well as the trailer.

Art and Craft
Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering a wide range of painting styles and periods that includes 15th Century Icons, Picasso, and even Walt Disney. And while the copies could fetch impressive sums on the open market, Landis isn’t in it for money. Posing as a philanthropic donor, a grieving executor of a family member’s will, and most recently as a Jesuit priest, Landis has given away hundreds of works over the years to a staggering list of institutions across the United States. But after duping Matthew Leininger, a tenacious registrar who ultimately discovers the decades-long ruse and sets out to expose his philanthropic escapades to the art world, Landis must confront his own legacy and a chorus of museum professionals clamoring for him to stop. Art and Craft starts out as a cat-and-mouse art caper, rooted in questions of authorship and authenticity—but what emerges is an intimate story of obsession and the universal need for community, appreciation, and purpose.



The Case Against 8
A behind-the-scenes look inside the historic case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. The high-profile trial first makes headlines with the unlikely pairing of Ted Olson and David Boies, political foes who last faced off as opposing attorneys in Bush v. Gore. The film also follows the plaintiffs, two gay couples who find their families at the center of the same-sex marriage controversy. Five years in the making, this is the story of how they took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.



Citizen Koch
"America -- they're coming for you next." That’s the warning from a Wisconsin state employee after her union rights were destroyed by a Republican governor funded by corporate and billionaire donors whose ultimate goal is to break the unions nationwide -- and cripple the labor-backed Democratic party. Set against the rise of the Tea Party in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, a citizen uprising to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker collides with the Tea Party-aligned “Americans for Prosperity,” a group founded and lavishly financed by two of the world’s richest men —David and Charles Koch. As Republican working class voters find themselves in the crosshairs of their own party and its billionaire backers, they are forced to choose sides.



Citizenfour
Citizenfour is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). Poitras had already been working on a film about surveillance for two years when Snowden contacted her, using the name “Citizenfour,” in January 2013. He reached out to her because he knew she had long been a target of government surveillance, stopped at airports numerous times, and had refused to be intimidated. When Snowden revealed he was a high-level analyst driven to expose the massive surveillance of Americans by the NSA, Poitras persuaded him to let her film.

Citizenfour places you in the room with Poitras, Greenwald, and Snowden as they attempt to manage the media storm raging outside, forced to make quick decisions that will impact their lives and all of those around them. Citizenfour not only shows you the dangers of governmental surveillance—it makes you feel them. After seeing the film, you will never think the same way about your phone, email, credit card, web browser, or profile, ever again.



Finding Vivian Maier
Finding Vivian Maier is the critically acclaimed documentary about a mysterious nanny, who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that were hidden in storage lockers and, discovered decades later, is now among the 20th century’s greatest photographers. Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, Maier’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never before seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.

Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof. Currently, Vivian Maier’s body of work is being archived and cataloged for the enjoyment of others and for future generations. John Maloof is at the core of this project after reconstructing most of the archive, having been previously dispersed to the various buyers attending that auction. Now, with roughly 90% of her archive reconstructed, Vivian’s work is part of a renaissance in interest in the art of Street Photography.



The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
The Internet’s Own Boy follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.



Jodorowsky's Dune
This fascinating documentary explores the genesis of one of cinema's greatest epics that never was: cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's (El Topo) adaptation of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic Dune, whose cast would have included such icons as Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger. In 1975, following the runaway success of his art-house freak-outs El Topo and Holy Mountain, Alejandro Jodorowsky secured the rights to Frank Herbert's Dune - and began work on what was gearing up to be a cinematic game-changer, a sci-fi epic unlike anything the world had ever seen.

Jodorowsky enlisted an elite group of artistic mercenaries, including French comic book artist Moebius, who illustrated the storyboards; screenwriter Dan O'Bannon (Dark Star, Alien); artist H.R. Giger (Alien); and sci-fi paperback illustrator Chris Foss. For the cast, he lined up icons ranging from Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger to Orson Welles, and even his own son, who was put through two years of gruelling martial arts training to prepare for his role. Unfortunately, the film was never made.

Director Frank Pavich tackles one of cinema's most enthralling "what could have been" stories, weaving interviews with the charismatic Jodorowsky, his collaborators, and supporters (including Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn), together with animation to bring Moebius' storyboards to life. Even though the project exists only in the imaginations of its creators, and as the hundreds of illustrations they left behind, Pavich's documentary chooses not to dwell on failure, but rather celebrates the ways in which the creative dreams of Dune planted seeds for many other iconic films that came after it, from Star Wars to Alien to countless more. This is an inspirational story about the power of the creative spirit, one that establishes Jodorowsky as a master of cinema and a true visionary of our time.



Keep on Keepin' On
First-time director/drummer from Australia, Alan Hicks, convinced his surfing mate and cinematographer, Adam Hart, to travel to the U.S. to follow and film 89-year-old jazz legend, Clark Terry (Quincy Jones's first teacher) over four years - to document an unlikely mentorship between Terry and a driven, blind piano prodigy, Justin Kauflin, 23. Clark, now 93, mentored Miles Davis as a young musician and is among the few performers ever to have played in both Count Basie's and Duke Ellington's bands. In Keep On Keepin' On, as Justin is invited to compete in an elite, international competition while battling terrible stage fright, Clark's health takes a critical turn for the worse. Over the course of filming, Clark loses his sight, which deepens his bond with Justin. As clocks tick, we are suddenly witness to two great friends tackling the toughest challenges of their interwoven lives. The film, from the producer of The Cove and Chasing Ice, captures the passing of the torch from a cultural icon to potentially his last student, inspiring viewers in climactic, cinematic fashion.



The Kill Team
A documentary that unveils the moral tensions that tear at soldiers' psyches through the lens of one highly personal story: Private Adam Winfield was a 21-year-old soldier in Afghanistan when he attempted with the help of his father to alert the military to heinous war crimes his platoon was committing. But Winfield's pleas went unheeded. Left on his own and with threats to his life, Private Winfield was himself drawn into the moral abyss, forced to make a split-second decision that would change his life forever.



Last Days in Vietnam
During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only--or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as they can.



Life Itself
'Life Itself' recounts the surprising and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert - a story that's by turns personal, wistful, funny, painful, and transcendent. The film explores the impact and legacy of Roger Ebert's life: from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism and his nearly quarter-century run with Gene Siskel on their review show, to becoming one of the country's most influential cultural voices, and finally to Roger's inspiring battles with cancer and the resulting physical disability - how he literally and symbolically put a new face on the disease and continued to be a cultural force despite it.



The Overnighters
Broken, desperate men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local Pastor risks everything to help them.



The Salt of Earth
For the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history; international conflicts, starvation and exodus. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of wild fauna and flora, and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project which is a tribute to the planet's beauty.



Tales of the Grim Sleeper
Perennially provocative documentarian Nick Broomfield (Aileen Wuornos: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Biggie and Tupac) digs into the case of the notorious serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper," who terrorized South Central Los Angeles over a span of twenty-five years. Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested for the crimes in 2010. His court case still drags on as police seek connections to over a hundred unsolved murders.

Broomfield's first-person presence in Tales of the Grim Sleeper is more subdued than in his other films. He enlists the help of a former prostitute, Pam, who shines as a lively, funny, and courageous personality. Together they hit the streets to dig up information where the police investigation has run cold. Broomfield researches a citizens' group called the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, formed out of frustration over the lack of police action on the case back in the 1980s. In archival clips and new interviews, he documents the coalition's refusal to let the Grim Sleeper's victims be forgotten. The film reveals a social strata that has largely been left to fend for itself, failed by institutions of law, education, and job opportunity. Behind the camera is the director's son, Barney Broomfield, who also shot with Hubert Sauper in Sudan for We Come as Friends. His skilful cinematography conveys a dignity to street characters subsisting in an underground economy, as the elder Broomfield's film builds to a powerful assemblage of testimony conveying a grave injustice that extends well beyond this case.



Virunga
In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and home to the last of the mountain gorillas. In this wild, but enchanted environment, a small and embattled team of park rangers - including an ex-child soldier turned ranger, a carer of orphan gorillas and a Belgian conservationist - protect this UNESCO world heritage site from armed militia, poachers and the dark forces struggling to control Congo's rich natural resources. When the newly formed M23 rebel group declares war in May 2012, a new conflict threatens the lives and stability of everyone and everything they've worked so hard to protect.

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