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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has selected 15 feature documentaries that will go on to compete for the Oscar.
In a highly competitive year for documentary films — 124 were submitted — the preliminary round of voting by members of the Academy’s documentary branch singled out docs that range from Asif Kapadia’s Amy, a look at the late singer Amy Winehouse, to Evgeny Afineevsky’s Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, which takes viewers behind the lines of the Ukranian uprising in 2013-2014.
A number of previous Oscar winners are represented by new works on the list: Michael Moore, a winner for 2002’s Bowling for Columbine, is back with Where to Invade Next, in which he journeys to Europe to spotlight progressive policies lacking in America; Alex Gibney, who took home the Oscar for 2007’s Taxi to the Dark Side, made the cut with Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief; Davis Guggenheim, who received an Oscar for 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth, scored a mention with He Named Me Malala, about the young activist Malala Yousafzai; and Morgan Neville, who earned his Oscar for 2013’s 20 Feet From Stardom, is repped by Best of Enemies, a film about Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, which Neville directed with Robert Gordon.
The eclectic group of choices also includes Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, which returns to the topic of Indonesian genocide, which was also the subject of his Oscar-nominated 2012 film The Act of Killing; Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground, an exposé of sexual assault on American campuses that has become part of the national debate; Heart of a Dog, a cinematic essay by musician Laurie Anderson; Stevan Riley’s Listen to Me Marlon, which features audiotapes recorded by the late actor Marlon Brando; and Meru, which recounts attempts to scale the Himalayan peak of the title and was directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.
The shortlist also encompasses Liz Garbus’ What Happened, Miss Simone?, which looks at the life and times of singer/civil-right activist Nina Simone; Matthew Heineman’s Cartel Land, which captures efforts to fight the drug cartels along the U.S./Mexican border; Marc Silver’s 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets, which focuses on the murder of a young black man in Jacksonville, Fla.; and Hubert Sauper’s We Come as Friends, a tour of war-ravaged South Sudan.
The complete list of films follows:
“Amy,” On the Corner Films and Universal Music
“Best of Enemies,” Sandbar
“Cartel Land,” Our Time Projects and The Documentary Group
“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” Jigsaw Productions
“He Named Me Malala,” Parkes-MacDonald and Little Room
“Heart of a Dog,” Canal Street Communications
“The Hunting Ground,” Chain Camera Pictures
“Listen to Me Marlon,” Passion Pictures
“The Look of Silence,” Final Cut for Real
“Meru,” Little Monster Films
“3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets,” The Filmmaker Fund, Motto Pictures, Lakehouse Films, Actual Films, JustFilms, MacArthur Foundation and Bertha BRITDOC
“We Come as Friends,” Adelante Films
“What Happened, Miss Simone?,” RadicalMedia and Moxie Firecracker
“Where to Invade Next,” Dog Eat Dog Productions
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” Pray for Ukraine Productions
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