Oscar 2005: The Short List of Docus

Over the pat few years, documentaries have gained prestige, popularity, and commercial appeal with audiences. The vibrant International Documentary Association (IDA) has a lot to do with it.

On December 9, the IDA honored for the 21st time its annual awards, which go to seminal filmmakers and lifetime achievement honorees, such as D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, to newcomers, such as Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist, co-directors of “Favela Rising.”

This year, there is an overlap of seven feature nominated by the IDA that also appear on Oscar's shortlist, which consists of no less than 15 documentaries. As expected, many of the docus reflect the new technology (digital filmmaking) as well as the zeitgeist, with a number of film addressing current political issues in the U.S. and the world. Several of the nominees are socially or politically conscious documentaries, including “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Street Fight,” and “Favela Rising.”

This year, the IDA decided to add two award categories that honor the contribution of docu editors and cinematographers.

For first-timer Matt Mochary, co-director of “Favela Rising,” the IDA feature co-winner, the award brings prestige as well as elevates the visibility of the form. For the first time, IDA has launched a Gotham Docu Day, at the New York branch of the DGA, screening all 15 Academy-nominated docus with discussions by their directors.

The Academy's Short List

After Innocence (US)
The Boys of Baraka (US)
Darwin's Nightmare (Austria/Belgium/France)
The Devil and Daniel Johnston (US)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (US)
Favela Rising (Brazil/US)
Mad Hot Ballroom (US)
March of the Penguins (France)
Murderball (US)
On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commissin Report (US)
Occupation: Dreamland (US)
Rize (US)
Street Fight (US)
Unknown White Male (UK)
39 Pounds of Love (US)

The five finalists will be announced January 31, along with the other Academy nominations.