Shortlist for docu Oscar unveiled

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NEW YORK -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday unveiled the 15 films on its 2007 documentary feature Oscar shortlist.

Four ThinkFilm releases made the cut, a record for the company and one of the biggest lineups ever for any distributor. They are Tony Kaye's abortion epic "Lake of Fire," Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's World War II expose "Nanking," Alex Gibney's Iraq War study "Taxi to the Dark Side" and Sean Fine and Andrea Nix's look at a Ugandan musical competition "War/Dance."

The biggest boxoffice hit among the bunch by far is Michael Moore's health-care expose "Sicko," from the Weinstein Co., but other high-profile releases were left off the list. Jonathan Demme's "Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains" and Amir Bar-Lev's child prodigy study "My Kid Could Paint That" from Sony Pictures Classics were expected to make the cut but didn't. Other notable absentees were Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg's look at Darfur, "The Devil Came on Horseback"; Picturehouse's gamers study "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters"; and ThinkFilm's space-themed "In the Shadow of the Moon."

Aside from "Taxi," other films covering the Iraq War that made the list included Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's "Body of War," Charles Ferguson's "No End in Sight" and Richard Robbins' "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience."

Features about other wars made the cut, too, including Steven Okazaki's "White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" and Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen and Nicole Newnham's World War II art study "The Rape of Europa."

Virtually all films on the list were topical, including Tricia Regan's look at special-needs children, "Autism: The Musical"; Daniel G. Karslake's examination of homosexuality and religion, "For the Bible Tells Me So"; and Weijun Chen's Chinese election study "Please Vote For Me."

Peter Raymont's playwright profile "A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman" and Bill Haney's Hatian worker expose "The Price of Sugar" round out the list.

The films will be narrowed to five Oscar nominees Jan. 22 at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
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