'Truth' be told, eco-docu aided by 'small miracles'
Empty"I was 100% certain we weren't going to get nominated," said "An Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim, whose film picked up two Oscar nominations Tuesday, for best documentary and best song. Despite stellar reviews and big boxoffice, he noted that the Paramount Vantage film missed key nominations, including the DGA, "so I didn't think the documentary branch would go for it."
Then again, Guggenheim on Tuesday pointed to "a series of small miracles" that began even before his feature docu's world premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
"We thought the victory was just to get the film made, and maybe get some teachers to show it in classes," Guggenheim said. "After (producer) Laurie David said, 'There's an Al Gore slide show we should see,' people said, 'You can't make that into a movie!' " But with producer Lawrence Bender and funding from Jeff Skoll's Participant Prods., it went into production.
"Then when we decided to do it, people said, 'You can't do that in six months for Sundance,' " Guggenheim continued. "Then when we got in, there were people inside our group that thought, 'This can't get a theatrical release.' Then John Lesher chose it as his first acquisition for Paramount Vantage. Then we told him, 'We need you to put together a campaign in 21/2 months' when it normally takes nine, and with Megan Colligan and Guy Endore-Kaiser, we did it. Then we wanted to bring it to Cannes, and it happened."
It took many villages to raise "Truth" to its nearly $24 million gross, and the way several of them worked together was yet another miracle.
"In the nonprofit world, many groups compete for attention and money," Guggenheim said, "but this is one of the rare cases where they threw aside their differences and said, 'This is bigger than ourselves,' without getting territorial or petty."
Al Gore came to Sundance last year to promote the film, and he might just show up on Oscar night. "I had a nice talk with Al. I said. 'Are you ready to go to the show?' He said, 'I'll think about it,' " Guggenheim said, laughing.
As many public triumphs as "Truth" has given the first-time feature director, the most valuable one might be Guggenheim's most private: His late father, documentary director Charles Guggenheim, was nominated for an Oscar 12 times and won four.
"I know he's looking down on me and smiling," he said.