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2003 Academy Awards Nominees: Best Feature Documentary and Best Documentary Short Subject

By IDA Editorial Staff

Best Documentary Feature


Bowling for Columbine (Winner)
Producer/Director/Writer: Michael Moore
Produced by: Kathleen Glynn and Jim Czarnecki
Producers: Charles Bishop and Michael Donovan
Executive Producer: Wolfram Tichy
Editor/Co-Producer: Kurt Engfehr
Cinematographers: Brian Danitz and Michael McDonough
Composer: Jeff Gibbs
Production Company: Salter Street Films
Distributors: Alliance Atlantis and United Artists

Bowling for Columbine is an alternately humorous and horrifying film about the United States, its violent soul and its fearful heart. Why do 11,000 die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? The talking heads yelling from every TV camera blame everything from Satan to video games. But are we that much different from many other countries? This film is a journey through America and through our past, with the hope to discover why our pursuit of happiness is so riddled with violence.

From Michael Moore's <em>Bowling for Columbine</em>

MICHAEL MOORE's Bowling for Columbine was the most honored documentary of 2002. His previous documentaries include The Big One (1998), Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint (1991) and Roger and Me (1989). He also produced two series for television-The Awful Truth (1999-2001), which aired on Bravo, and the Emmy-winning TV Nation (1994-95), which aired on NBC. His best selling books include Stupid White Men (2002), now in its ninth month on The New York Times Best Seller List, Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American (1998) and Adventures in a TV Nation (1995).

MICHAEL DONOVAN runs the Nova Scotia-based Salter Street Films with his brother Paul. In addition to Bowling for Columbine, Donovan has produced such Canadian television series as Talking to Americans (2001), Major Crime (1997), Life with Billy (1994) and "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" (1994).


Daughter from Danang
Producer/Director: Gail Dolgin
Director/Cinematographer: Vicente Franco
Editor: Kim Roberts
Composers: B. Quincy Friffin and Hector Perez
Distributor: Balcony Releasing in association with Cowboy Pictures

A Vietnamese mother and her Amerasian daughter are reunited in Vietnam after a 22-year separation. Their hopes for a joyful reunion are quickly shattered as the reality of cultural differences and the years of separation take their toll. Daughter from Danang is a story about a war in the past and making peace in the present.

GAIL DOLGIN's film career began in 1968 with New York-based Newsreel, a collective of filmmakers producing and distributing documentaries about struggles for social justice and civil rights. She was a co-producer, co-director and co-editor of Cuba Va: The Challenge of the Next Generation, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival, among other festivals. She associate produced Forever Activists: Stories from Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991.

VICENTE FRANCO has been working in film and television since 1982, as producer, director, cinematographer and editor. He co-directed, shot and edited Nasci Muhler Negri (I Was Born a Black Woman), the story of the first AfroBrazilian woman to be part of the Brazilian Senate. His cinematography credits include The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It; Freedom on My Mind, nominated for an Academy Award in 1994; and The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle. Franco also co-directed Cuba Va: The Challenge of the Next Generation with Gail Dolgin.


Prisoner of Paradise
Producer/Director/Writer: Malcolm Clarke
Producer/Director: Stuart Sender
Executive Producer: Jake Eberts
Cinematographer: Michael Hammon
Editors: Glenn Berman and Susan Shanks
Composer: Luc St. Pierre
Distributor: Alliance Atlantis

Prisoner of Paradise is the story of Kurt Gerron, a beloved German-Jewish actor, director and cabaret star in Berlin in the 1920s and '30s. He co-starred with Marlene Dietrich in the classic The Blue Angel and sang "Mack the Knife" in the original production of The Threepenny Opera. Ultimately he was captured and sent to a concentration camp, where he was ordered to write and direct a Nazi propaganda film. Prisoner of Paradise follows Gerron's career and remarkable odyssey.

MALCOLM CLARKE has been making films since the mid-'70s. Most of his early work was produced in his native England, while in recent years he has worked in the United States. Clarke received a Academy Award for best documentary feature for Soldiers in Hiding (1985), and, for best short documentary, You Don't Have to Die (1988). Through Media Verite, Clarke and partner Stuart Sender are developing a feature film version of Kurt Gerron's story.

STUART SENDER has written, produced and directed award-winning news and documentary programs that have appeared on public and network television, including PBS, CBS, CNN, NBC and MTV. He has been a contributor to the CNN World Report and has written for such publications as the Los Angeles Times. He has worked on six continents and interviewed a range of world leaders and personalities. He began his career as a producer for CBS News and has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.


Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Jeff Blitz
Producer/Sound Sean Welch
Editor Yana Gorskaya
Composer Daniel Hulsizer
Distributor: Thinkfilm

Spellbound presents the intense, true-life experience of the National Spelling Bee as seen through the eyes of eight driven, young spellers. We share in their private lives as they train for and compete in the ultimate, intellectual showdown. Within these stories, we discover not just their idiosyncratic personalities, their obsessive study habits, their sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspiring family dynamics, but the story of America itself.

JEFF BLITZ grew up with a halting childhood stuttering problem that gave rise to an early fascination with speech and storytelling. That interest in language developed into the study of creative writing as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, then into graduate study at USC film school, where he won the school's prestigious Presidential Fellowship and directed the award-winning short film, Wonderland, with George Segal. Since graduating, Blitz has worked at the Writers Guild of America, west, researching the secret screenplay histories of writers blacklisted in the 1940s and '50s. Spellbound is his first feature documentary.

SEAN WELCH moved back to Los Angeles after spending his more formative years in Berkeley, California, working as a carpenter and playing semi-pro soccer. Since returning, Welch has worked on feature films (Crimson Tide and Face/Off) and began producing commercials. In addition to work, he has made traveling and photography a priority and has backpacked through South America, Europe, North America, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East-in the belief that "his journeys are the midwives of thought."


Winged Migration
Director/Producer/Writer: Jacques Perrin
Writer: Stéphane Durand
Producer: Christophe Barratier
Executive Producer: Jean De Trégomain
Cinematographers: Michael Benjamin, Sylvie Carcedo-Dreujou, Laurent Charbonnier, Luc Drion, Laurent Fleutot, Philippe Garguil, Dominique Gentil, Bernard Lutic, Thierry Machado, Stéphane Martin, Fabrice Moindrot, Ernst Sasse, Michael Terrasse, Thierry Thomas
Composer: Bruno Coulais
Editor: Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

With Winged Migration, Jacques Perrin takes on his greatest challenge yet: exploring the mystery of birds in flight. Five crews of more than 450 people, including 17 pilots and 14 cinematographers, were necessary to follow a variety of bird migrations through 40 countries and all seven continents. The film covers landscapes that range from the Eiffel Tower and Monument Valley to the remote reaches of the Arctic and the Amazon. All manner of man-made machines were employed, including planes, gliders, helicopters and balloons, and numerous innovative techniques and ingeniously designed cameras were utilized to allow the filmmakers to fly alongside, above, below and in front of their subjects.

Long one of France's most respected producers (Academy Award winners Z and Black and White in Color) and actors (Z, Cinema Paradiso, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkey Skin and The Brotherhood of the Wolf), JACQUES PERRIN more recently has had a highly successful career creating films about nature--including Le Peuple Singe and Microcosmos, which won several César Awards in France, and films set in exotic locales, including Himalaya, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.


Best Documentary Short Subject


The Collector of Bedford Street
Producer/Director: Alice Elliott
Co-Producer: Vickie Kenny
Editor: Melissa Hacker
Cinematographer: Cynthia Wade
Composer: Joel Goodman
Distributor: Cinemax Reel Life

The Collector of Bedford Street follows Larry Selman, the filmmaker's mentally challenged 60-year-old neighbor. A community activist and fundraiser, Selman raises thousands of dollars for charity every year while he lives at the poverty level. Because of his 20 years of service to his neighborhood, the community created a supplemental need adult trust fund for him. The film humanizes the story behind the abstract statistics of mental retardation, revealing how a community builds tolerance and understanding.

ALICE ELLIOTT produced the award-winning documentary Diamonds in the Rough, about the George Washington High School baseball team from Washington Heights in Manhattan. She received a Jerome Foundation grant for The Collector of Bedford Street, which will air on HBO/Cinemax, and co-produced Grist for the Mill, which aired on Cinemax in June 1999. As a writer, Elliott wrote for the Nickelodeon series Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and her three plays for young audiences have been published and produced in New York City and around the country. A teacher at NYU's School of Continuing Education in the video and broadcasting department, she has produced radio commercials and CD-ROMs and also acted for 10 years on ABC's Loving. Currently, she co-chairs the scholarship committee for New York Women in Film and Television and is the videographer for Judson Memorial Church.


Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks
Producer: Robert Hudson
Director: Bobby Houston

Rosa Parks struck the match that lit the fire of the Civil Rights Movement. Definitely not "an old lady too tired to give up her seat on the bus," she was 42 years old, an NAACP activist, who says, "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in." She was jailed on a Thursday, and within days, an entire community had stepped forward to support her protest-including an untested young preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr. Blending music, archival footage and re-enactments, Mighty Times brings this "Second American Revolution" vividly to life.

ROBERT HUDSON and BOBBY HOUSTON formed their filmmaking partnership in 1997, when they documented a team of men with HIV/AIDS competing in the elite TransPac Yacht Race as part of Get Challenged, a nonprofit organization that Hudson had created created to inspire and empower the millions of Americans with AIDS. The resulting film, Rock the Boat, was later shortlisted for an Academy Award. Hudson and Houston later made Little Secret, about another Get Challenged adventure, and A Place at the Table for Teaching Tolerance, a project of Southern Poverty Law Center. Mighty Times was also made for Teaching Tolerance, and based on that work, HBO has signed the filmmakers to a five-picture deal to continue their history of the Civil Rights movement.


Twin Towers (Winner)
Director/Producer: Bill Guttentag
Director/Executive Producer: Robert David Port
Produced by: Peter Jankowski, Dick Wolf, Dan Sturman
Executive Producer: Maury Povich
Producers: Kate Adler, Lisa Engel, Eddie Barbini
Editor: Michael Schweitzer
Composer: Philip Marshall
Production Company: Wolf Films

Twin Towers is a film about the officers of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit who were among the first to answer the call to help on September 11, 2001. The film follows a Harlem-based unit before the tragedy, then tells of the fate of these men.

BILL GUTTENTAG is the creator and executive producer of the NBC series Crime & Punishment, now in production on its second season. Part of the Law & Order family of shows, it was created by Dick Wolf, who is also a producer of Twin Towers. Guttentag won an Academy Award for the HBO documentary You Don't Have to Die. He has received four additional Oscar nominations, and two Emmy Awards. His films include Crack USA (HBO); The Last Days of Kennedy and King and The Cocaine War: Lost in Bolivia, an ABC News/Peter Jennings Reporting special. Guttentag was a 1998-99 Knight Fellow at Stanford University, where he currently co-teaches a class on the film and television business at the Graduate School of Business.

ROBERT DAVID PORT is currently writing a one-hour police drama for 20th Television, is an executive producer on a movie for FX about the infamous North Hollywood bank robbery of 1997, and is producing a pilot for ABC about rookie cops in LA. Port was executive producer and director of Arrest & Trial, Studios USA's syndicated fall 2000 dramatic reality strip from acclaimed Law & Order producer Dick Wolf. Port was named president of Maury Povich's MoPo Entertainment in 1997.


Why Can't We Be A Family Again?
Producers/Directors: Roger Weisberg and Murray Nossel
Composer: Mark Suozzo
Cinematographer: Edward Marritz

Why Can't We Be a Family Again? is a cinéma vérité portrait of the bond that develops between two brothers who long to be reunited with their mother. The film chronicles their mother's agonizing battle with crack addiction and their grandmother's struggle to keep the family together. Shot over a three-year period, this emotionally wrenching story reveals how two brothers who were devastated by their mother's addiction and neglect found a way to thrive and redefine what it means to be a family.

ROGER WEISBERG's 20 previous documentaries have won more than 70 awards, including Emmy, Peabody and Dupont-Columbia awards.Road Scholar, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993, and the recent Academy Award-nominated Sound and Fury, which played at Sundance in 2000, were distributed theatrically before airing on PBS. Weisberg's current productions are Breaking the Cycle, about the struggles of low-wage workers to lift their families out of poverty, and Aging Out, about teens making the transition from foster care to independent living.

MURRAY NOSSEL is a psychologist on the faculty of Columbia University's School of Social Work. Nossel previously teamed up with Roger Weisberg to make A Brooklyn Family Tale. He is currently producing and directing 2 Gay Men, A Witch and a Baby for HBO and the BBC; the vérité documentary chronicles a gay couple's journey to have a child through a surrogate mother.