Oscars 2011 Documentaries

Wednesday was a tough one in L.A.  Locals were bundled up in their winter coats on this frigid sixty degree day!  We Midwesterners though, were in shorts and hoodies, enjoying the warmth and sunlight for the one brief week we’ll be here.  After watching a film shoot just outside the hotel, we headed off to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Documentary Features reception and screening.  I arrived on time and quickly found a great spot in the press row, right at the end!

While killing time this afternoon, I turned to the web to do some research on the nominated films.  I trolled around and was able to find several trailers online.  I watched one, then two, then three, then lost track of how many of the trailers I watched.  Now, armed with these trailers and with my own two square feet of carpet from which to interrogate the filmmakers, I was ready for action.

Each of the filmmakers were excited to share their story about their film.  In documentaries, you don’t write a script, perfect it, then go about trying to find the funding.  Rather, you happen upon a great story, then figure out if you can tell it, how to tell it, and how to fund it.  Each of our interviewees relayed the same enthusiasm for their characters in their films.  Each spoke of the responsibility they felt toward their characters and that character’s story.

Also, each filmmaker talked of being moved when beginning the project, then being changed themselves while merely trying to hold a camera up to their characters to let the world appreciate the story that was playing out in anonymity.

If you can only watch the trailers online, go do it.  There are some exceptional films here.  Strangers No More tells the story of a unique school in Tel Aviv for refugee children, many of whom have lost parents and loved ones in political strife, and some had never attended school before.  Waste Land tells the story of an artist trying to help the poor people of Rio de Janeiro.  These aren’t just poor people either, they are a proud group of “pickers” who make their lives and living around the largest trash heap in the area.  They pick over the trash then resell anything they can find of value.

Time does not permit me to go into detail on Warriors of Quigang, Inside Job, or Killing in the Name, but rest assured, these features also bring to life brave people overcoming the odds and making a difference in the lives of others.

After the reception, I zoomed along Wilshire Boulevard and took notice of all the cars, all the people walking down the sidewalks and thought of all the people in the high-rise buildings overhead.  When I came into town, I was most concerned about how many of these locals would steal from me or do me harm.  Having met face to face with people who have chronicled the stories of ordinary people stepping up to do good, the glow of their idealism had me realizing that yes, there may be a small percentage of Los Angeles residents that take advantage of me, but I also am confident that the vast majority are quiet heroes too, just like the folks in these documentaries.

CableSuite 541’s coverage of the 83rd Academy Awards is made possible by the generous sponsorships of The Star Beacon, Kent State University at Ashtabula, ACMC, Carmike Cinemas, E.B. & Co., True North Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, www.whysoblu.com, Star 97, Magic Oldies 102.5 and 98.3 The Bull.


Comments are currently closed.