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1996 Academy Awards Nominees: Best Documentary Feature

By IDA Editorial Staff

A photo of Anne Frank alongside handwriting, from Jon Blair's' Anne Frank Remembered.'

Anne Frank Remembered
Producer, Director, and Writer: Jon Blair
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
Editor: Karen Steininger
Narrator: Kenneth Branagh
Extracts from The Diary of Anne Frank read by: Glenn Close
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

The first filmed eyewitness account about Anne Frank, Anne Frank Remembered combines personal testimony, never-before-seen photos, newly discovered family letters, rare archival footage, and evocative contemporary film, including the first re-creation of the secret hiding place as it was at the time that the Frank family hid from the Nazis more than 50 years ago.

Made in cooperation with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Anne Frank Remembered documents the life and legacy of the spirited girl whose diary of her two years in hiding during World War II has sold over 25 million copies in 54 languages. Witnesses from Frank's early childhood to the last people to see her alive in Bergen Belsen return to the original locations, rebuilding her complete life story to her death just two weeks before the Allied victory. The film also traces her father's painful postwar journey as he searched for his wife and children and learned of their After returning to Holland, Otto Frank devoted the rest of his life to the propagation of his daughter's message of tolerance and hope.

JON BLAIR is a producer, director, and writer who has worked in theatrical films, broadcast television, and live theater. His documentary Schindler, about the Nazi spy who saved the lives of several thousand Jews, won a British Academy Award. Other documentaries include Do You Mean There Are Still Real Cowboys?, tracing a year in the life of a small cow town in Wyoming; The Art of Tripping, about drug taking and the arts; and Wagner vs. Wagner, featuring Richard Wagner's grandson discussing the composer's legacy of anti-Semitism. He was the cofounder and co creator of the popular satirical program Spitting Image, which won two Emmys. He has covered domestic and foreign stories for British television as current affairs producer/ director on Tonight, This Week, and TV Eye. His feature-film credits include Monster in a Box with Spalding Gray.


The Battle over Citizen Kane
Producers: Thomas Lennon and Michael Epstein
Writers: Richard Ben Cramer and Thomas Lennon
Directors of Photography: Greg Andracke, Michael Chin
Editor: Ken Bluto
Original Music: Brian Keane
Distributor: WGBH/Turner Broadcasting

At a preview screening of Orson Welles's Citizen Kane in early 1941, everyone present knew they had seen the work of a young genius—everyone except Hedda Hopper, the leading gossip columnist and a Hearst newspaper employee, who called the movie "a vicious and irresponsible attack on a great man." The great man was William Randolph Hearst. One out of every five Americans was reading a Hearst newspaper, and every major Hollywood star and executive had been entertained at San Simeon, Hearst's art-crammed estate.

When Hearst learned of the film—and especially of the savage portrayal of the woman who shared his life, actress Marion Davies—he set out to destroy Welles and suppress the movie. Hearst put pressure on Hollywood and used the power of the press to smear Welles. Major exhibition chains refused to carry the film, and at the 1941 Academy Awards­ where Welles's name repeatedly drew jeers—Citizen Kane took only one award out of the nine for which it had been nominated. Welles's masterpiece virtually disappeared for a quarter of a century, and never again would he control a major Hollywood production.

THOMAS LENNON is a director and writer of nonfiction television and president of the Lennon Documentary Group. His work has aired nationwide on commercial and public tv, and he has won two Peabody Awards, two Writers' Guild Awards, a Dupont, and two national Emmys. Since 1987, Lennon has divided his time between Frontline, where his credits include Tabloid Truth: The Michael Jackson Scandal and The American Experience, for which he has produced such films as Demon Rum and Battle of the Bulge.

MICHAEL EPSTEIN has produced, written, and directed a variety of films for public television over past seven years, mostly for The American Experience and Frontline. He won a Writers' Guild Award for The Choice '92, a dual biography of Bill Clinton and George Bush. The Hurricane of '58 was also nominated for a Writers' Guild Award. His other credits include the Emmy-nominated Tabloid Truth: The Michael Jackson Scandal and On Values.


Fiddlefest: Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras and Her East Harlem Violin Program
Executive Producer: Walter Scheuer Walter Scheuer, Susan Kaplan, Allan Miller
Producers: Susan Kaplan and Walter Scheuer
Director and Editor: Allan Miller
Director of Photography: Kramer Morgenthau
Distributor: Four Oaks Foundation/Films Transit

Roberta Guaspari­ Tzavaras began the East Harlem Violin Program in 1980 with a vision of inner-city youngsters developing self­ esteem and discipline through rigorous instruction and uncompromising standards. When her position was suddenly eliminated by the Board of Education, Guaspari­ Tzavaras raised her own funds to keep the program going. Filmed over a period of two years, Fiddelfest follows Guaspari-Tzavaras and her students from the schools of East Harlem to Madison Square Garden and, ultimately, to the stage of Carnegie Hall, where they performed with Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman.

ALLAN MILLER has produced and directed over 35 films and television programs around the world. He is the winner of two Academy Awards, for From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China and The Bolero with Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His other award-winning films include Memories of Eubie, with Eubie Blake; High Fidelity: The Adventures of the Guarneri String Quartet; John Cage: I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It; and Novembers Children: Revolution in Prague. He has extensive experience as a conductor and is president and founding artistic director of Symphony Space, a performing arts center in New York City.

WALTER SCHEUER 's involvement in film began in 1979, when Isaac Stern was invited to tour the People's Republic of China, an event that led to the production of the Academy Award-winning documentary From Mao to Mozart. Scheuer has also collaborated with Alan Miller on such films as A Hungry Feeling: The Life and Death of Brendan Behan, High Fidelity: The Adventures of the Guarneri String Quartet, and November’s Children: Revolution in Prague.

SUSAN KAPLAN is president of NewCity Productions. She directs and produces award-winning fundraising videos and promotional spots.


Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream
Executive Producers: Denzel Washington, Michael Jay Tollin, Debra Martin Chase, and Brian Robbins
Director and Writer: Michael J Tollin
Director of Photography: Charles S. Cohen
Editor: John Ganem
Composer: Ed Smart
Executive Producer for TBS Originals: Pat Mitchell
Senior Producer for TBS Originals: Vivian Schiller
Distributor: Turner Broadcasting

In April 8, 1974, American baseball entered a new era when "Hammerin'" Hank Aaron hit home run number 715, breaking Babe Ruth's long-standing record. Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream tells the story leading up to Aaron's record-breaking run and the obstacles he had to overcome to accomplish it.

Just five years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African-American to join the all-white Major Leagues, Alabama-born Aaron, then 18 years old, took his first step toward fame when he signed with the Braves. Throughout his 23-season Major League career, Aaron faced many challenges both on and off the field, especially when it appeared he could actually break the Babe's record. He received hate mail and death threats, by this love of baseball kept him going. He has become a driving force in opening up baseball to more minorities, both on the field and in the front office.

MICHAEL JAY TOLLIN has written, directed, and produced numerous award-winning films and television specials, including Hardwood Dreams, a one-hour primetime special for the Fox network made with his partner, Brian Robbins; The Final Season, a look at a season in the life of an American pro football team; Let Me Be Brave, the story of 12 mentally challenged athletes who attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro ; and the HBO primetime specials Kids on Kids and Buy Me That. Tollin won two Emmys for his work as writer/director on the series The Baseball Bunch.


Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern
Producers, Directors, and Writers: Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher
Director of Photography: Steven Ascher
Editor: Jeanne Jordan
Music: Sheldon Mirowitz
Distributor: West City Films

In 1990, when Iowa farmer Russ Jordan called his daughter and son-in-law, Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher, in Boston to tell them this might be his last year of farming, the couple were in shock. The farm had been in the Jordan family for 125 years. It had survived the dust bowl, the Depression, two world wars, and Ronald Reagan. Now, in the midst of a nationwide recession, the farm was seriously threatened with foreclosure.

Jordan and Ascher, longtime independent filmmakers, were compelled to film pivotal moments in the life of the farm and their family over the course of the following year. The result is Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern, a first-person documentary that speaks to the fragile fate of rural communities and to universal themes of family, marriage, aging, and survival.

JEANNE JORDAN has been making independent and network documentaries and fiction films for more than 15 years. For the PBS Frontline series, she co-produced and directed Running with Jesse, a portrait of Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign. Her editing Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher credits include two films for the PBS series Eyes on the Prize and several dramas for American Playhouse. She also edited Amelia Earhart and Love in the Cold War for PBS's The American Experience and My Mother’s Murder for HBO.

STEVEN ASCHER has been making documentary and fiction films since the late 1970s. He produced, wrote, and directed the award-winning A&E drama Def and Alex. His documentaries include Life and Other Anxieties (made with Ed Pincus) and Acconts from the Life of George Wilkins (made with Claude Chelli). Ascher graduated from Harvard University and taught at MIT. He is coauthor of The Filmmaker’s Handbook, a best-selling text used in several countries, and has written and directed museum installations around the world.