Film Documentary roundtable group panel with 7 directors
A total of 15 documentaries were shortlisted for a 2022 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature and the subjects documented in them range in topics all over the documentary spectrum. Five of those filmmakers joined our recent Meet the Experts panel, with subjects such as America’s most infamous prison riot, the rise of a young female singer who becomes one of the biggest stars on the planet, how a group of adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church use drama therapy to process their trauma, how a bunch of recreational divers pulled off an incredible rescue mission in Thailand and the stories of five families that have been displaced by a perilous civil war.
In our roundtable conversation, we hear what the directors behind these highlighted docs think about making the shortlist for this year’s Academy Awards. Gold Derby recently discussed this and more with Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry (“Attica”), R.J. Cutler (“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry”), Robert Greene (“Procession”), Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (“The Rescue”) and Megan Mylan (“Simple as Water”).
You can watch the film documentary group panel above with the people behind these five films. Click on each person’s name above to be taken to their individual interview.
SEE Gold Derby interviews with 2022 Oscar contenders
Greene shared the news of being shortlisted immediately with the men that were the subject of “Procession.” He’s explained to them why he’s doing so much press and what this whole process is about and they are extremely excited for this development. “They’re just pumped because they’ve been a part of the process throughout the whole thing. I’m not even thinking about it in terms of me and how I feel about it all. It’s all about how they feel.”
Nelson is hopeful for what being shortlisted will do for the film’s reach. “One thing that I thought is that more people will see the film and that’s really what’s important for us.” Curry echoed that sentiment by adding, “To the extent that any of this gives this story and their experiences a bigger platform for people to understand what they went through, I’m all for it.” For her, being shortlisted was just the icing on the cake.
Vasarhelyi and Chin, who both won Oscars for “Free Solo,” had an interesting way of looking at being shortlisted with Vasarhelyi calling it a dreadful but hopeful moment. “It makes me hopeful because it means that people understand how ‘The Rescue’ kind of reminds us of what unites us in a time where everyone seems so divided.” She adds that the dreadful part is the “dreadful, perverse pleasure” in getting to talk to different filmmakers also in contention.
When asked to reflect on his favorite documentaries from the past year, Cutler took the time to sing the praises of the other four works represented on the panel and also the current moment we are in with documentaries. “It’s not just these guys. It’s the whole group of films that we’re a part of. And in documentary film everybody borrows form, borrows history, is inspired by each other’s films and the history of documentary films. It’s a great time to be a part of this.”
Mylan continued to echo that sentiment, calling attention to very distinct and different voices with films that seem to have nothing in common all having a point of entry through common experiences. “There’s some gorgeous work happening and it feels like its coming from really profound places and people, not just pushing the boundaries of form and artistically but also inside of themselves that are digging in emotionally and intellectually.”