Oscars: Netflix in the Documentary Race Again With 'Virunga'

AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File
Virunga National Park

The streaming service also distributed 2014 contender 'The Square.'

Netflix is in the Oscar documentary race for the second year in a row.

The streaming service has nabbed an Academy Award nomination for Virunga in the best documentary feature category. The film, from director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara, depicts the Virunga National Park of Congo and its fight to help some of the last remaining mountain gorillas survive. Netflix teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio, an executive producer on the film, to distribute Virunga simultaneously online and in theaters last November.

“We’re all over the moon," von Einsiedel told The Hollywood Reporter after the nominations were announced Thursday morning. "This is all very new to me. Netflix does very interesting things with docs — E TeamThe Square — it's great for filmmakers and reaches unprecedented audiences, 53 million homes in 50 countries. When we got the BAFTA and DGA and PGA noms, for five minutes it’s great, and then you go back to being nervous. It’s all been overwhelming, but it’s all about making more people to stop these mountain gorillas from being destroyed in the name of greed."

The two back-to-back nominations validate Netflix's young original documentary initiative, especially as the streamer continues to garner awards nominations for original TV series such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black

Netflix entered the Oscar race last year with The Square, a documentary from Jehane Noujaim about the recent Egyptian political upheaval and protests in Tahrir Square. The title was considered a favorite for best documentary but lost to Twenty Feet From Stardom during the 2014 telecast.

Netflix didn't go home empty-handed, however. The streamer took home a statue for The Lady in No. 6: Music Saved My Life in the best documentary short category. Netflix, which did not produce the documentary, had picked up streaming rights to it just one week before the March 2 telecast.

"We are so grateful to the Academy for this recognition — to receive our second nomination in our second year of eligibility is thrilling," said Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos. "I'm inspired by the passion and commitment of Orlando, Joanna and our Netflix team. Together, their efforts have created an astonishing and unforgettable film of deep emotional resonance that is connecting with audiences around the world, and making a difference for the future of Virunga National Park."

Jan. 15, 3:25 p.m. Updated to include statement from Netflix

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