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Meet the Academy Awards Nominees 2002

By IDA Editorial Staff

From Justine Shapiro and B.Z. Goldberg's <em>Promises</em>

Best Documentary Feature

Children Underground
Producer/director: Edet Belzberg
Executive producers: Sheilah Kitt McKinnon and Michel Negroponte
Cinematographer: Wolfgang Held
Editor: Jonathan Oppenheim
Distributor: Cinemax Reel Life

Today, more than 20,000 children live on the streets of Romania’s cities and towns, a tragic legacy of former President Nicolae Ceaucescu’s regime, during which he outlawed the use of contraception and abortion in an effort to increase the nation’s work force. In Children Underground, Edet Belzberg lets the subjects speak for themselves, telling their own stories of abuse, abandonment and loneliness in their own natural and very candid fashions. What emerges are portraits of five individuals, each dealing with the tragedies, losses and sadness of their lives in very different ways.

EDET BELZBERG received a Master’s degree in 1997 from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Her short, A Master Violinist, won the Columbia School of Journalism John M. Patterson Enterprise Award in 1997. She spent over three years making Children Underground, her first film as both director and producer. The film earned her a Special Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and an IDA Award for Best Documentary Feature. She is currently in post-production on Gymnast, a feature-length documentary following three American women gymnasts training for and competing in the 2000 Olympic Games.

Lalee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton
Producer/Director: Susan Froemke
Co-Directors: Deborah Dickson with Albert Maysles
Executive producer: Sheila Nevins
Cinematographer: Albert Maysles
Editor: Deborah Dickson
Co-producer: Douglas Graves
Composer: Gary Lucas
Distributors: Maysles Films, Inc./HBO

LaLee’s Kin takes us deep into the Mississippi Delta and the intertwined lives of LaLee Wallace, a great-grandmother struggling to hold her world together in the face of dire poverty, and Reggie Barnes, superintendent of the embattled West Tallahatchie school system. Through the technique of direct cinema, pioneered in the 1960s as a way to bring real-life stories to audiences with unprecedented intimacy, LaLee’s Kin explores the painful legacy of slavery and sharecropping in the delta.

SUSAN FROEMKE has been principal filmmaker and chief administrator at New York-based Maysles Films for the past 14 years and has 21 nonfiction films to her credit, starting with the classic Grey Gardens (1976). Four-time Emmy Award-winner Froemke has been a disciple of "direct cinema," a style of filmmaking created in the 1960s by the late David Maysles and his brother Albert, among others, since joining Maysles Films Inc. at the start of her career. Froemke’s tremendous range as a filmmaker can be seen in the diversity of her subjects, from classical music artists to architects to abortion providers to hospice care workers. Froemke is currently in post-production on a short film about Paul McCartney.

Murder on a Sunday Morning
Producer: Denis Poncet
Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Distributor: Pathe International

On May 7, 2000, in the parking lot of a Ramada Inn in Jacksonville, Florida, 65-year-old Mary Stephens was shot in the head in front of her husband. Ninety minutes later, 15-year-old Brenton Butler was arrested. For the investigators and media who covered the story, it was just another messed-up youth, just another wasted life.

DENIS PONCET was a journalist for more than 20 years. After covering Watergate, he spent five years as bureau chief in Washington for Radio France. In the ’80s, he became a war correspondent in the Middle East before being appointed executive chief editor of one of the networks. As an independent, Poncet has directed numerous documentaries, mostly in the United States. In 1995, he became co-producer for Bertrand Tavernier’s company, Little Bear, where he teamed up with director and friend Jean-Xavier de Lestrade to make such documentaries as Children Full of Hope and the award-winning A White and Pure Australia. In 1999, they created their own company, Maha Productions.

JEAN-XAVIER DE LESTRADE founded Tribulations, a TV news agency covering political events for European television, in 1987. For five years, he directed and produced news reports throughout the world. In 1992 he started making documentary films. The main focus of his films is the questioning of the mechanism of society, its taboos and the way its justice functions. In 1995 he joined producer Denis Poncet to create MAHA productions. De Lestrade's work has been awarded many prizes including two FIPA awards. Murder on a Sunday Morning is his ninth feature documentary.

Producers/Directors/Writers: Justine Shapiro and B.Z. Goldberg
Director/Editor: Carlos Bolado
Cinematography: Yoram Millo & Ilan Buchbinder
Executive Producer: Janet Cole
An ITVS Presentation

Between 1997 and the summer of 2000, three filmmakers went to Jerusalem to ask children what they thought about war and peace in the Middle East. The result is a prescient account of the bitter and historically complex struggle from the point of view of those who will inherit it.

JUSTINE SHAPIRO was born in South Africa and grew up in Berkeley, California. She studied history and theater at Tufts University and acted for 15 years in theater, film and TV. She hosts and co-writes the award-winning travel series, Lonely Planet, broadcast to a global audience of 35 million. The series comes to PBS in Spring 2002 as Globetrekker. Prior to Promises, Shapiro worked on such documentaries as BBC’s History of Food; Nagasaki Journey and Voices from the Storm.

B.Z. GOLDBERG was born in Boston and grew up outside of Jerusalem. He studied filmmaking at New York University. Goldberg worked as a television journalist during the first intifada (Palestinian uprising). He has also worked internationally as a consultant on conflict resolution. Goldberg is fluent in Hebrew and conversant in Arabic.

War Photographer
Producer/Director: Christian Frei
Cinematography: Peter Indergand, James Nachtwey
Editors: Christian Frei, Barbara Muller
Music: Arvo Part, Eleni Karaindrou, David Darling
Distributor: Films Transit Inc.

Director Christian Frei followed war photographer James Nachtwey for two years to such trouble spots as Kosovo, Indonesia and Palestine. In addition to filming Nachtwey, Frei attached a miniature film camera to Nachtwey’s still camera, giving a viewer an intimate sense of his process. Nachtwey’s calmness and circumspection, unusual for a war photographer, reflects the inner confidence and conviction that allow him to persevere with this tough job. His photographs are not a purpose, but a means. In the end, the war photographer becomes an anti-war photographer.

CHRISTIAN FREI was born in Schonenwerd, Switzerland, in 1959. He studied visual media at the Department of Journalism and Communication at the University of Fribourg and has been working as an independent director and producer since 1984. He works regularly for Swiss National Television SF DRS. His last documentary, Ricardo, Miriam y Fidel was shown in over 30 film festivals all over the world.

Best Documentary Short Subject

Artists and Orphans: A True Drama
Producer/Director/Writer: Lianne Klapper McNally
Creative Advisor/Inspiration: Sharon Gans
Editors: Yoni Kohen, Ellen Goldwasser
Composers: Peter Fish, Scott Paul
Cinematography: Nodari Pilishvili, John Hanlon, Richard David, Howard Past, Joseph Ramishvili
Distributor: CS Associates

In a country torn by civil war, economic collapse and political upheaval, the unseen victim is the child. Children suffer for long years after the immediate crisis passes. This is what director/actress Sharon Gans and her troupe of American artists discover when they travel to the Republic of Georgia for a theater festival. Vowing to help, the artists walk off the stage and into a real-life drama.

Prior to Artists and Orphans, LIANNE KLAPPER McNALLY wrote an hour-long documentary on Hispanics in America for The Twentieth Century with Mike Wallace, and produced two seasons of The Best of Us, a magazine series for CBS News Productions. Throughout her career as a writer, producer and director, McNally has showcased her work on CBS, NBC, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Lifetime and USA Networks, among others. She is a graduate of Stanford University, and she studied film at NYU.

Producer: Jessica Sanders
Director/Writer: Freida Lee Mock
Cinematographer: Erik Daarstad
Editor: Anne Stein
Distributor: KCET/Community Television of Southern California

How do croaky-voiced eight-year-olds become amazing singers? It is the story of how a community group, amid severe cuts in the arts, is able to develop a children’s chorus that Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen says is the best he has ever heard. Sing! focuses on the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, which has worked out of two rooms in a basement for 15 years to create extraordinary music under the guidance of Anne Tomlinson. Sing! is about the importance of art and music in children’s lives.

JESSICA SANDERS studied English and Film Studies under Professor Jeanine Basinger at Wesleyan University and graduated with honors. Los Angels, her first film, a narrative short, which she wrote, produced, directed and edited, showed at numerous festivals, received several awards, and played theatrically in Los Angeles. She has worked on both independent and studio features and documentary productions in all capacities, from producer, production designer and editor to camera operator. She is currently working with the creative team led by Bill Guttentag and Dick Wolf on the documentary series Crime & Punishment, which follows Deputy District Attorneys of San Diego.

FREIDA LEE MOCK is a Santa Monica, California-based independent director, producer and writer who has produced both Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning and nominated films, including the following: Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision; Never Give Up: The 20th Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper; Lillian Gish: The Actor’s Life for Me; The Kennedy Center Honors Biographies; To Live and Let Die; and Screenwriting: Word into Image. Her recent productions include Return with Honor and Bird by Bird with Annie.

Producers: Sarah Kernochan and Lynn Appelle
Director: Sarah Kernochan
Co-producers: Friedrike Merck, Curt Johnson
Editor: Emily Paine
Cinematography: Don Lenzer, Mead Hunt, Jason Summers, Peter Pearce, Michael Anderson, Mattew Deetsch, Sam Henrique, Kate Fix, Ben Wilson, Sarah Kernochan
Music: S.K. Thoth

In 2000, filmmaker screenwriter Sarah Kernochan was strolling through Central Park near nightfall when she felt—and heard—music that sounded as though it were coming from another world. It was Thoth, a street musician of mixed-race origins, who wants to help heal the disunity of all people through his performance of a one-man opera.

SARAH KERNOCHAN has written several films, including 91/2 Weeks, Impromptu, What Lies Beneath, Sommersby and All I Wanna Do. Her documentary Marjoe, about a huckster/child evangelist, earned an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1972. Kernochan is married to Broadway producer James Lapine.

LYNN APPELLE started her film career nine years ago as a camera assistant in Atlanta. After working on several MOWs, feature films and the 1996 Olympics, she moved back to New York City to purse a career in production. As a production coordinator she worked on such projects as Dinner Rush, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and Empire. Thoth is the first film she has produced.