Recognition likewise for Matthew Heineman's City of Ghosts and Yance Ford's Strong Island
The International Documentary Association announced its nominations for best feature Wednesday, giving credence to the perception that no single film has emerged as a front runner for awards this year.
Five films earned recognition for one of the documentary world's top honors: Faces Places from 89-year-old filmmaker Agnès Varda and her 34-year-old co-director JR; the Syrian war-themed City of Ghosts from Matthew Heineman; Dina, the film by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini about a neuro-diverse woman living in the Philadelphia area; LA 92, directed by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin, one of several documentaries this year that marked the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots, and Strong Island, Yance Ford's powerful, personal story of the racially-tinged killing of his older brother.
The diverse array of films nominated this year underscore the vibrancy and elasticity of documentary form.
The IDA nominations underscore how wide open this year appears to be, in contrast to last year when Ezra Edelman's O.J.: Made in America won virtually every award available and two years ago when Asif Kapadia's Amy did the same.
Of the five IDA-nominated features, only one of them -- Strong Island -- factored in previously-announced nominations from two other awards curators -- the Gotham Independent Film Awards and the Critics Choice Documentary Awards.
Strong Island marks Ford's directorial debut. The IDA previously announced him as the recipient of its Emerging Filmmaker award this year.
The IDA Awards nominations are determined by a special committee of leading voices in documentary, including festival programmers, critics and filmmakers. One committee determined the feature nominees; a separate shorts committee assembled, electing to nominate six short docs.
The short film nominees are Edith + Eddie, directed by Laura Checkoway; The Fight by Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw; Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, directed by Frank Stiefel; Long Shot by Jacob LaMendola; Mr. Connolly Has ALS by Dan Habib, and The Rabbit Hunt directed by Patrick Bresnan.
“The diverse array of films nominated this year underscore the vibrancy and elasticity of documentary form,” Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the IDA, said in a statement. “These films address the most urgent contemporary global matters -- and the most intimate emotional territory. All of them demonstrate the courage and ingenuity of nonfiction media makers.”
The IDA Awards will be presented December 9 on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood (find information about ticket sales here).
IDA members get to vote on the winners for best feature and short. Several other winners have already been determined:
Cinematography by: Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva
Dawson City: Frozen Time
Edited by: Bill Morrison
Brimstone and Glory
Original Score by: Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin
Written by: Chico Pereira, Manuel Pereira and Gabriel Molera
Scottish Documentary Institute
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.