The latest batch of Academy Awards were distributed in Hollywood on Sunday.
Their recipients ranged from intelligent, thought-provoking films on very worthy subjects to… well, Fury Road, two hours of senseless, relentless overstimulation, with a popularity even more baffling than Adolf Trump’s.
Kudos to Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight and Adam McKay’s The Big Short, two fantastic films successfully tackling two complex and unwieldy issues.
In recent years, the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature has been awarded to some brilliant films – Citizenfour, Searching For Sugar Man, 20 Feet From Stardom.
This year, however, it was given to Asif Kapadia’s Amy, an ugly film catering to our endless obsession with dead celebrities.
Of all the documentaries I’ve seen in the past year, this was one of the worst, and I was sorry to see it even nominated.
Documentary filmmaking gives us the power to see the most remote regions of the planet, the inner workings of society, and the deepest parts of the human soul.
It is a medium with immense potential for initiating discussions and effecting positive change on the very real issues that confront us all as individuals, as communities, and as a species.
The real tragedy is not Amy Winehouse’s premature death, it is the fact that so many people are familiar with documentary filmmaking only as a medium of such tabloid-style distractions.
Amy takes us down into the dirt without touching on anything deeper, and holding up such a film as one of the finest examples of the craft is like having Ronald McDonald as an Iron Chef.
Here are three hard-hitting documentaries that never won any Oscars, though all were nominated:
Evgeny Afineevsky’s Winter On Fire was another of this year’s Oscar contenders, chronicling the 2013-14 Ukrainian revolution.
It is the story of a president who betrays his country, and of the ordinary people who will risk everything to rise up and claim it back.
Over the past five years, the Arabic nations have also been host to a series of dramatic popular uprisings.
Jehane Noujaim’s The Square focuses on the years of turmoil in Egypt, where conflicts took place on an unimaginable scale, with tens of millions of demonstrators and thousands of lives taken.
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s 5 Broken Cameras is the story of rebellion on a much more intimate scale.
Events spiral out of control for a group of Palestinian villagers protesting the encroachment of Israeli settlers on their farmland.
A three-page article on my work was featured in this month’s issue Oi Vietnam magazine, which you can find here.
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