SXSW alum and UT film professor Ellen (Troop 1500) Spiro is on the Best Documentary Oscar shortlist, for her doc with Phil Donahue, Body of War. It’s great to have someone from the booming Austin doc community recognized by the Academy, and what’s even more remarkable, is how this milestone fits into my alma mater’s recent history. The University of Texas Film Department Faculty received a major injection of nonfiction filmmaking talent in the 1990s. So much so, that when I attended UT film school, I felt out of place because I didn’t wanna direct docs for a living (after I graduated, the school has certainly expanded its scope).
Ellen is the first professor from UT’s era of revitalized documentary education, to make it this close to the Oscars. Though, it’s worth noting that recent UT MFA graduate John Fiege is nominated for a Gotham Award for his doc, Mississippi Chicken. For the Austin Movies Blog, Chris Garcia chatted with Ellen recently about the doc shortlist as well as the impending release for Body of War. The final five nominations will be announced in late January. Best of luck to her and the team!