To vote for Best Documentary Feature, academy members must see all five nominees in a theatrical setting. The only exceptions are for those Documentary branch members who took part in the nominating process.
“Paradise Lost 3” is the third film from directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky that documents the wrongful imprisonment of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley who were convicted of murdering three boys in 1993. This series of films helped bring about their release last August.
To document the life and work of choreographer Pina Bausch, director Wim Wenders made the 3D film “Pina.” While there is some footage of dancers discussing her work, it is dominated by performances of these dances. In 1998, “Dancemaker,” a profile of choreographer Paul Taylor, won this award. “Pina” was shortlisted for the foreign language Oscar but did not make the final five.
“Undefeated” documents the lives of high school football coach Bill Courtney and his team of players on and off the field. T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay spent a year with the Memphis team and touchingly showcase the effect that one person can have on the lives of a group of inner-city teenagers.
“Hell and Back Again” documents the story of Sgt. Nathan Harris, who served in Afghanistan. Director Danfung Dennis contrasts his homecoming with scenes of war. The conflicts in this region produced last year’s nominee “Restrepo” and “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” in 2007.
In “If a Tree Falls,” directors Sam Cullman and Marshall Curry examine the issue of eco-terrorism. They profile Daniel McGowan, one of a group of environmentalists who destroy lumber mills and the like to spread their message.
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