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by Bryce J. Renninger
December 13, 2013 12:39 PM
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Doc Filmmakers: You Don't Need to Premiere at Sundance to Win an Oscar, But Most Nominees Debuted There

"The Cove," "Inside Job," "Undefeated" and "Searching for Sugar Man"

The changes in the Academy's documentary rules may have made it easier for the year's top documentaries to get some recognition come Oscar time.  (Before, the small group of nominators were accused of having taste that seemed not to correspond with generally agreed upon quality and popularity.)  So where do these high quality films premiere?  This year, a staggering ten of the fifteen shortlisted films debuted at Sundance.

Data nerds, we crunched the numbers, and over the past five years, 26 of the 60 shortlisted docs got their start at Park City, with the Toronto International Film Festival coming in at a distant second place with 8 world premieres getting shortlisted.

When it comes to taking home the trophy, two Sundance titles ("The Cove" and "Searching for Sugar Man") took home the top title in the past four contests, while a SXSW title ("Undefeated") and a Cannes debut ("Inside Job") also won.

Shortlisted Films:

Sundance: 26
TIFF: 8

Tribeca: 4

Venice: 3

SXSW: 2

Hot Docs: 2
IDFA: 2
Full Frame: 2
Cannes: 2
Jerusalem: 2
not a festival: 2
CPH:DOX: 1

Seattle: 1

Berlinale: 1
Cleveland: 1
New Zealand: 1

Nominated Films:
Sundance: 11
Tribeca: 2
Venice: 1
CPH:DOX: 1
Cannes: 1
Berlinale: 1
TIFF: 1
Jerusalem: 1
SXSW: 1

Oscar-Winning Films:

Sundance: 2
Cannes: 1
SXSW: 1

And here are the complete list of 2010-4 Oscar nominees, with nominees italicized and winners bolded:

2010

"The Beaches of Agnes" = Venice
"Burma VJ" = CPH:DOX

"The Cove" = Sundance

"Every Little Step" = TIFF
"Facing Ali" = Seattle International Film Festival
"Food, Inc." = TIFF
"Garbage Dreams" = SXSW
"Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders" = Venice
"The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" = TIFF

"Mugabe and the White African, Andrew Thompson and Lucy Bailey, directors = Hot Docs
Sergio, Greg Barker, director = Sundance
Soundtrack for a Revolution, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, directors = Tribeca
Under Our Skin, Andy Abrahams Wilson, director = Tribeca
Valentino The Last Emperor, Matt Tyrnauer, director = Venice
Which Way Home, Rebecca Cammisa, director = Tribeca

Venice: 3
TIFF: 3
Tribeca: 3
Sundance: 2
CPH:DOX: 1
Seattle: 1
SXSW: 1
Hot Docs: 1

Nominees:

Tribeca: 2
Sundance: 1

Venice: 1
CPH:DOX: 1

2011

“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" = TIFF
“Enemies of the People” = IDFA
“Exit through the Gift Shop” = Sundance

“Gasland” = Sundance

“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” = TIFF
“Inside Job” = Cannes

“The Lottery” = Cleveland International Film Festival
“Precious Life” = Jerusalem Film Festival
“Quest for Honor” = Sundance Film Festival
“Restrepo” = Sundance Film Festival

“This Way of Life” = New Zealand International Film Festival
“The Tillman Story” = Sundance
“Waiting for ‘Superman” = Sundance
“Waste Land” = Sundance

“William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe” = Sundance

Sundance: 8
TIFF: 2
IDFA: 1
Cannes: 1
Cleveland: 1
Jerusalem: 1
New Zealand: 1

Nominees:

Sundance: 4
Cannes: 1

1 Comment

  • bryan | December 14, 2013 1:23 AMReply

    Bully world premiered at Tribeca not TIFF