[Filmmakers Amir Bar-Lev (left) and Tim Hetherington at the Cinema Eye Honors Nominees Reception in January in New York City. Photo by Simon Luethi.]
In what constitutes the largest, single-year class of invites to the Academy's Documentary Branch in years, ten have been invited to join AMPAS, including recently minted Oscar winner Charles Ferguson, filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev (MY KID COULD PAINT THAT, THE TILLMAN STORY), Participant Media EVP Diane Weyermann and Davis Guggenheim's producing partner Leslie Chilcott.
The headline, though, was the Academy's invitation to RESTREPO filmmakers' Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger. It's almost unheard of for the Academy to invite filmmakers based on a single feature film, even if it's Oscar nominated, and is almost certainly a reaction to Hetherington's death in Libya two months ago. Hetherington is the Academy's first posthumous invitee.
The invite list also includes Carl Deal, whose partner on TROUBLE THE WATER, Tia Lessin, was invited to join a couple years ago, as well as three recently nominated for the Academy's Documentary Short prize: Jon Alpert (CHINA'S UNNATURAL DISASTER: THE TEARS OF THE SICHUAN PROVINCE) and Thomas Lennon & Ruby Yang (THE WARRIORS OF QIUGANG), who won the Short Oscar a few years ago for THE BLOOD OF THE YINGZHOU DISTRICT.