Oscar's feature doc list down to 15
EmptyErrol Morris, an Oscar winner in 2004 for his documentary "The Fog of War," has made the cut that could lead to another Academy Award nomination for his latest film, "Standard Operating Procedure," a study of torture in Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
Morris' film, from Participant and Sony Pictures Classics, is one of 15 films that have made it through a preliminary round of voting by the Academy's documentary branch steering committee and are now eligible to compete for one of the five nominations in the feature documentary category.
Bill Maher's "Religulous," the top-grossing doc of the year with $12.6 million domestically, failed to make the list, though plenty of other hot-button topics were represented.
Joshua Tickell's "Fuel" looks at the energy crisis; Patrick Creadon's "I.O.U.S.A.," from Roadside Attractions, takes on the credit crunch; Peter Gilbert and Steve James' "At the Death House Door" examines a case of capital punishment gone wrong; and Carl Deal and Tia Lessin's "Trouble the Water" looks back at Hurricane Katrina. The last film, a Zeitgeist release, won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Several of the docs offer profiles of artists: Robert Grossman's "Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh" remembers the Hungarian poet captured by the Nazis; Scott Hicks' "Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts," from Koch Lober Films, centers on composer Philip Glass; Jeremiah Zagar's "In a Dream" is a study of the director's father, mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar; and James Marsh's "Man on Wire," released by Magnolia, celebrates high-wire artist Philippe Petit.
Other titles hopscotch the globe: Werner Herzog's ThinkFilm release "Encounters at the End of the World" travels to Antartica; Ellen Kuras' "The Betrayal — Nerakhoon" follows a family that emigrates from Laos; Gini Reticker's "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," from Balcony Releasing, studies politically active women in Liberia; and Daniel Junge's "They Killed Sister Dorothy" reports on a Catholic nun killed in the Brazilian rainforest.
Stacy Peralta's "Made in America" focuses on Los Angeles gangs, while Scott Hamilton Kennedy's "The Garden" trains its cameras on a community garden in South Central L.A.