Oscar 2006: Docus about Iraq War Dominate

Dec 7, 2006–Documentaries rife during wartime
Nearly a third of the 15 docus short-listed for an Oscar nominations are centered on Iraq. During the Vietnam era, there were far fewer war documentaries made. To be sure, there were some notable docus, such as Peter Davis' “Hearts and Minds,” which won an Oscar in 1975, five years after Emile de Antonio's “In the Year of the Pig” received an Oscar nomination.

This year, however, nearly a third of the 15 docus short-listed for Oscar nomination are centered on Iraq: “The Ground Truth,” “Iraq in Fragments,” “My Country, My Country” and “War Tapes.”

The makers of these films see the documentary format as a way to convey a story that wasn't close to being fully told by embedded journalists. “I felt that the toll the war was taking on our soldiers was not being reported or broadcast,” notes “Ground Truth” helmer Patricia Foulkrod.

Meanwhile, for “Iraq in Fragments” director James Longley, the removal of Saddam Hussein from power provided a tantalizing opportunity to reveal a culture that — until April 2003 — was as shut off from the world as Kim Jong-il's North Korea. Suddenly, Longley recalls, “The Iraqi border hung open like a door off its hinges.”

The four aforementioned pictures will compete with 11 others for Oscar's five feature documentaries nominations, which will be announced Jan. 23.