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The Oscar documentary shortlist is published

December 4th, 2013

The Dogwoof team are delighted to congratulate our films The Act of Killing, Blackfish and Cutie and the Boxer for being included on the Oscar Documentary shortlist. Fingers crossed they all make the final cut of an Oscar Nomination come January!

The Act of Killing

In the 1960’s Anwar Congo was a leader in Indonesia’s pro-regime paramilitary the Pancasila Youth who, along with his band of dedicated followers, was amongst those who participated in the murder and torture more than a million alleged Communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. Proud of their deeds and completely unpunished, Anwar and his pals are delighted when the film’s director ask them to re-enact these murders for their documentary – in any genre they desire. Initially Anwar and his friends enthusiastically take up the challenge using hired actors, making elaborate sets and costumes and even using pyrotechnic, but eventually as the movie violence is played out and reconstructed, Anwar finally begins to feel unease and remorse.

Blackfish

Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.

Cutie and the Boxer

A reflection on love, sacrifice, and the creative spirit, this candid New York story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife, Noriko. As a rowdy, confrontational young artist in Tokyo, Ushio seemed destined for fame, but met with little commercial success after he moved to New York City in 1969, seeking international recognition. When 19-year-old Noriko moved to New York to study art, she fell in love with Ushioabandoning her education to become the wife and assistant to an unruly, husband. Over the course of their marriage, the roles have shifted. Now 80, Ushio struggles to establish his artistic legacy, while Noriko is at last being recognized for her own art—a series of drawings entitled “Cutie,” depicting her challenging past with Ushio. Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with the eternal themes of sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art.

The full Oscar nominations, when the 15 shortlisted docs are whittled down to 5, will be announced on January 16th, with the ceremony itself to be held on March 2nd. Here is the full list of 15 films that made the shortlist

The Act of Killing
The Armstrong Lie
Blackfish
The Crash Reel
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
First Cousin Once Removed
God Loves Uganda
Life According to Sam
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
The Square
Stories We Tell
Tim’s Vermeer
20 Feet from Stardom
Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington

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Reviews

  • "Critics Pick" – New York Times
  • "Critics Pick" – LA Times
  • "You have rarely seen footage this tense." – Village Voice
  • "Unfolds like a thriller." – Vulture
  • "A mesmerizing psychological thriller" – Variety
  • "Impressive, often gripping documentary" – The Observer
  • "One of the best films of 2013 so far" – Awards Daily
  • "A fascinating piece of documentary filmmaking" – FEARnet
  • "Expertly crafted, A must-see" 5 – Daily Mirror
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