It's become a favorite yearly event to track down the shortlisted Oscar documentaries prior to Oscar nomination morning.
This year 124 feature length documentaries qualified as potential Oscar nominees, and this weekend the 15 shortlisted documentaries were announced. These will be whittled down to 5 eventual nominees by the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Below is the names and brief summary of the 15 films.
Battle for Brooklyn, Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley. Daniel Goldstein, fights of eminent domain in Brooklyn while a massive real estate development project is underway and he finds himself living in an abandoned building in the center of the project site.
Bill Cunningham New York, Richard Press. Profile of New York fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, an early photographer who captured candid celebrities and regular New Yorkers.
Buck, Cindy Meehl. Profile of Buck Brennaman, the inspiration for the Nicholas Evans novel, and later movie The Horse Whisperer. The film deals with Brennaman's childhood, abuse, foster family, horses. Robert Redford appears in the documentary.
Hell and Back Again, Danfung Dennis. Afghanistan war documentary, focusing on a soldier dealing with the impact of heading off to war, and returning home.
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman. Documentarians explore the topic of eco-terrorism, including the arrest of Daniel McGowen in 2005, as well as an exploration of how the department of justice should handle eco-terrorism.
Jane's Journey, Lorenz Knauer. The film takes a backstage and across the globe tour with the now seventy-five year old former primatoligist and global activist Jane Goodall. In addition to Jane Goodall, the film features Angelina Jolie and Pierce Brosnon.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky. The third film in a series about the "West Memphesis 3," three teenagers put in prison for the death of three boys in Arkansas who we were released after 18 years when they were cleared by DNA evidence.
Pina, Wim Wenders. 3D dance film about German dancer and choreographer, Pina Bausch. Bausch died unexpectedly at the beginning of production, and so instead of featuring Pina herself, features other dancers sharing and performing.
Project Nim, James Marsh. The documentary revisits the story Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee made famous when taken from his mother at birth, and raised like a human child in the 1970s. Nim Chimpsky died in 2000, but this documentary using archival footage explores the impact on the experiment on the animal and human trainers.
Semper Fi: Always Faithful, Tony Hardmon, Rachel Libert. Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, a devoted marine drill instructor experiences an earth shattering change when his 9 year old daughter Janet dies of Luekemia. Jerry discovers a Marine cover-up associated with water contamination at Camp Lejune and the film explores the cover up and Jerry's request for the marine corps to be faithful to the soldiers and families exposed to the contaminants.
Sing Your Song, Susanne Rostock. A film staring Harry Belafonte, dealing with Belafonte's role in the civil rights movements.
Undefeated, Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin. The story of Mephasis' Manassas Tigers, a losing football team that was able to turn it around on the field and in the players academic performance as well with the addition of a new coach, Bill Courtney.
Underfire: Journalist in Combat, Martyn Burke. A series of interviews with journalist in various war torn area, dealing with the impact of war journalism include post-traumatic stress syndrome, adrenaline addiction, and callousness to tragedy.
We Were Here, David Weissman, Bill Weber. The film is reflecting documentary about the arrival of AIDS in San Fransisco, and how the city and it's inhabitants dealt with the rapid spread of the virus in the first year.