The makers behind the ten films nominated in two documentary categories have now had more than 24 hours to get used to the idea of being an Oscar nominee. We've been getting in touch with some of this year's select group for their reactions to the good news.
Paula DuPré Pesman, producer of THE COVE, wrote yesterday to say:
“We are all honored and humbled by the Oscar Nomination today. Our hope as the filmmakers is that more awareness for the film will end the horrific actions still taking place in The Cove. We are grateful to the Documentary Academy Members for helping us right these terrible wrongs.”
From BURMA VJ director Anders Østergaard:
"More than anything, I hope this nomination will be an encouragement to the Burmese VJs - to those who are working in the streets and in the rice paddies, to those who have been forced into exile and not least to those who are imprisoned and are going through immense hardship. I hope they will take this as a message that the world is celebrating their achievement."
MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA director Rick Goldsmith wrote:
"Naturally we're thrilled with the nomination. What I think audiences of all generations are responding to is, first, a compelling story about someone who chooses conscience over career. Second, the parallels between how our government deceived its own people to execute an immoral war in Vietnam resonate powerfully today, given our nation's two current wars. And third, it's easy to feel powerless to effect change in this country. People often feel, "why bother?" This film, I hope, will inspire, and can help answer that question."
FOOD, INC.'s Robert Kenner talked to Tamara Krinsky for the IDA's website:
"Who would have thought a film about how food gets to the table would be nominated for an Oscar?," he joked. "It's great on so many levels. We were thrilled that people like the film, we were thrilled that people came to the film, but we're also thrilled that people are listening to what the film is about on very high levels. We got in to see the secretary of agriculture...we were just on Oprah, and we're now the #1 DVD on Amazon."
We also talked briefly about the oft-discussed idea that the Oscars sometimes reward the "issue" of a film, rather than the film itself. Kenner had this to say: "I personally think good film should be rewarded. Just because you do a film on a particular subject doesn't mean you should get an award for it. How do you make a film for people who disagree with your or haven't thought about the issue? To make a film for people who agree with you already and slap you on the back does nothing. You need to reach out to a broader audience, to people who haven't thought about your subject before, in a way that's entertaining and filmic. You have to be a filmmmaker. From our opening sequence on, I was trying to use film language to tell this story."
Krinsky also has responses from BURMA VJ producer Lise Lense-Møller and DANGEROUS MAN co-director Judith Ehrlich.
In the documentary short category, Steven Bognar (whose partner Julia Reichert is up for her third Oscar) wrote:
"We'd been trying not to think too much about it, and then at 8:30 this morning we went on-line to check, but there was some delay. We checked a few more times, and still it was delayed so we said let's try not to think about it, so we stopped checking. Then ten minutes later or so, our kid Lela called us this morning and told us.
It's a bittersweet bunch of feelings, for sure. We're proud of the film and our team that made it, and we're really honored to be nominated, and to be in such good company, but really at the same time, the film exists because thousands of people lost their jobs, and most of those folks are still struggling for decent work. So it's hard to feel too celebratory about today when so many people from the film are still living through such hard times."
Fellow nominee Daniel Junge (who collaborated with Bognar, Reichert and me on the documentary CONVENTION) wrote to say:
"As a filmmaker you keep thein the back of your mind as a "what if" possibility but when it happens it's utterly surreal -- especially for such a quiet, intimate film like ours.
Lisa, our producer at HBO, noted this year's nominated shorts are particularly strong, and from what I've seen I agree, so it's a huge honor to be included. It'll also be great to be there with Steven and Julia who I got to work with on CONVENTION -- no one deserves it more than them."
Finally, Roger Ross Williams, the director of MUSIC BY PRUDENCE, had this to say:
"I’m thrilled that our little movie now has a real chance to change the fate of a band of stunning musicians. The lead singer’s story is a real-life “Precious” involving an evil stepmother, biological parents that cast her out, useless arms, amputated legs, extreme poverty, and a society and government that didn’t care. She weighs no more than 50 lbs but her soaring voice can finally warm or chill a world of appreciating listeners."
Update: Rebecca Cammisa, director of the Oscar and Spirit Award nominated WHICH WAY HOME, wrote on Thursday to say:
"I am deeply moved that the Academy has nominated our film for the Oscar. As with all the other documentary films that were nominated this year, this project was driven by a story that had to be told, the need to communicate about a vital issue of our times, and the idea that as filmmakers we can be a voice for those whose lives are unseen and whose own voices go unheard. Hopefully, WHICH WAY HOME will help create compassion and challenge cliché-driven beliefs about undocumented migrants."