DAILY NEWS: Oscar Doc Dozen; SF Indie Fest 2 Near; Online Critics Picks
by Eugene Hernandez & Maya Churi/indieWIRE and Carl Russo
>> Academy Narrows Potential Doc Nominees to 12
(indieWIRE/1.5.2000) — Twelve documentary films are under consideration
for the five Best Documentary Feature Academy Award nominations which will
be announced next month. The dozen films, chosen by a new committee of
Academy-member documentarians, were named by the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences yesterday.
Vying for an Oscar nod in the doc category are Todd Robinson‘s “Amargosa,”
Chris Smith‘s “American Movie,” Barry Blaustein‘s “Beyond the Mat,” Wim
Wenders‘ “Buena Vista Social Club,” Roko Belic‘s “Genghis Blues,” Errol
Morris‘ “Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.,” Nanette
Burstein and Brett Morgen‘s “On the Ropes,” Kevin Macdonald‘s “One Day in
September,” Chris Roe‘s “Pop & Me,” Torrie Rosenzweig‘s “Smoke and Mirrors: A History of
Denial,” Chuck Workman‘s “The Source,” and Paolo di Florio‘s “Speaking in
In October, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Documentary
Executive Committee, under chaired by Arnold Schwartzman, adopted a new
procedure for selecting Academy Award nominees in the feature length
documentary category. 55 docs were considered by the group. The committee
members are chair Schwartzman, vice-chair Mark Harris, Michael Apted,
Arthur Dong, Charles Guggenheim, Taylor Hackford, Barbara Kopple, Alec
Lorimore, Freida Lee Mock, James Moll, Erroll Morris and Victoria Mudd.
The twelve docs will now be screened in Beverly Hills, New York and San
Francisco, where local Academy members can see the movies and vote for the
1999 nominees. The Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday,
February 15, at 5:30 a.m. PT. [Eugene Hernandez]
[For more information, visit the AMPAS site at: http://www.ampas.org.]
>> San Fran IndieFest 2: American Independents Only
(indieWIRE/1.5.2000) — The San Francisco IndieFest is set to unleash a
fresh batch of edgy North American independent features on Bay Area
audiences January 6 – 14. The event opens with Matthew Leutwyler‘s “This
Space Between Us,” a dramedy about a filmmaker shuttling between S.F. and
L.A., and closes with Ash‘s “Pups,” a thriller inspired by recent reports
of teen violence.
A new cartoon will precede each of the 19 features, which will play at
S.F.’s Lumiere and Victoria theaters, with additional screenings at the
Fine Arts in Berkeley. In the low-budget spirit of indie filmmaking, most
of the after-parties are included in the ticket price.
Other festival highlights include Coke Sams� “Existo,” a satirical fantasy
pitting drag queens against the Christian Right; Torrie Rosenzweig‘s “Smoke
and Mirrors,” a pop-cultural expose of the tobacco industry; Jon Jacobs
“Lucinda’s Spell,” a campy tale of witches and hookers in New Orleans; and
“Amerikan Passport,” Reed Paget‘s notorious trek through a dozen war zones
that won Best Documentary at Slamdance ’99.
Like Slamdance and similar backlash film festivals, the fledgling S.F.
IndieFest — now in its second year — was borne out of frustration.
Founder/director Jeff Ross recalled watching a friend’s indie feature fall
through the cracks of the mainstream film festival circuit. “That film
didn’t get accepted into any local festivals because it had to compete on
an international level,” Ross told indieWIRE. “There aren’t enough of these
slots for American independents and there are so many being made.”
Ross wrangled this year’s titles after putting out a call for entries on
indieWIRE and soliciting tapes from festivals like the New York Underground
and the Los Angeles Independent. A panel of film buffs and
friends–including the staff of the funky Lost Weekend Video store–helped
weed through the 100 submissions. [Carl Russo]
[For tickets call (415) 421-TIXS or visit the festival web site at:
>> “American Beauty” takes top honors with the Online Film Critics Society
(indieWIRE/1.5.2000) — The Online Film Critics Society Awards were
announced this week with Sam Mendes‘ “American Beauty” taking the top award
of Best Picture. Kevin Spacey who starred in the film won for Best Actor
and Mendes won for Best Director. The Best Actress prize was awarded to
Reese Witherspoon who played the defiantly determined student politician in
“Election” by Alexander Payne. Haley Joel Osmet, the young seer in “The
Sixth Sense” picked up the award for Best Supporting Actor and Catherine
Keener won Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Being John Malkovich.”
The award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Best Editing Award went to
“Run Lola Run” and “The Buena Vista Social Club” won for Best Documentary.
The Society split its award for Best Screenplay between “Being John
Malkovich” by Charlie Kaufman for Best Original Screenplay and “Election”
by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for Best Adapted Screenplay. Other
awards included Best Cinematography which went to Emmanuel Lubezki for
“Sleepy Hollow” and Best Original Score for Marc Shaiman‘s work on “South
Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.” New to this year’s prizes were awards for
Best Debut which went to Spike Jonze for “Being John Malkovich,” the Best
Official Web Site Award went to “The Blair Witch Project” and Roger Ebert
on Movies was named Best Film Review Web Site. The final new award was
given to The Internet Movie Database for their efforts to strengthen the
bond between films and the internet. [Maya Churi]
The Online Film Critics Society is a global association of film critics
and cinema scholars who are affiliated with web sites and online services.
The are located on the internet at: http://www.ofcs.org.