Yes. Critical darlings like the award winning Ken Burns co-directed The Central Park Five and The Queen Of Versailles have been seemingly snubbed by a branch who tends to do that to great films more often than not, but if any branch gets anything right this awards season, it is going to be them.
Joining 14 other films (including films this writer truly adores like The Imposter, Five Broken Cameras, The Invisible War, The House I Live In and How To Survive A Plague) is the Jafar Panahi film, This Is Not A Film on the Academy’s short list for Best Documentary this year.
The picture joins a really fantastic list of other non-fiction feature films on the Academy’s shortlist for the award, and while the chances of it winning are unlikely (again, this branch is a tad all over the place with regards to what type of film they lean towards) but without even seeing the film, it’s the one picture that this writer believes should win the award. Here’s why:
Ever since Jafar Panahi has been imprisoned (or more so in house arrest, more on that in a moment), we have heard little to nothing outside of the occasional show of support from a film festival or foreign film community. It’s been a handful of years, and with vocal Panahi supporters like Martin Scorsese getting the chance to chat about the director only to squander it away, a win for Panahi and his co-director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb would not only thrust this film, but this story, onto as big a stage as any person within the film world could ever hope to have. The film itself is considered by many to be something of a masterpiece, so the critical support is there, now hopefully this film can win, and not only hold up the film, but one of the biggest atrocities the film world has shoved under the rug.
And where is the case at this point? After being held in prison for two months back in 2010, the beloved Iranian filmmaker had been put under house arrest, with only his appeals to his advantage. After exhausting his said appeals, his six year sentence has been upheld, without him actually being taken back to prison. He and Mirtahmasb have been under surveillance for quite some time now, with he also facing extensive charges, charges of spying for the BBC, but no trial has yet to be set. That’s the story, in as great a nutshell as one could put it in. (Hat tip to Jessica Rosner and Palisades Titan for shooting over some much needed updates about this entire case. It’s a miracle the film got made, so hopefully it’ll find support come Oscar time.)
Here’s the shortlist:
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” Never Sorry LLC
“Bully,” The Bully Project LLC
“Chasing Ice,” Exposure
“Detropia,” Loki Films
“Ethel,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“5 Broken Cameras,” Guy DVD Films
“The Gatekeepers,” Les Films du Poisson, Dror Moreh Productions, Cinephil
“The House I Live In,” Charlotte Street Films, LLC
“How to Survive a Plague,” How to Survive a Plague LLC
“The Imposter,” Imposter Pictures Ltd.
“The Invisible War,” Chain Camera Pictures
“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” Jigsaw Productions in association with Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films
“Searching for Sugar Man,” Red Box Films
“This Is Not a Film,” Wide Management
“The Waiting Room,” Open’hood, Inc.
Source Press Release