The two dudes behind the anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America—Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of Schindler’s List, and co-writer/director Dinesh D’Souza–are all sad and stuff because their documentary didn’t make it on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ short list of docs from which the final nominees are drawn (This year four of those 15 have been or will be on Firedoglake Movie Night: The House I Live In, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, and upcoming on Monday December 10, The Waiting Room).
Since September 2008, FDL Movie Night has brought readers 197 films, and like 190 of those were documentaries. Each year at least three of the films we’ve presented have been nominated for Academy Awards, and more have made the short list. A lot of them don’t make much at the box office, if they even get to a theater. Most are seen at festivals and then released directly to television/cable and on DVD/VOD.
But box office figures are why Molen and D’Souza are all butthurt: Their film made $33.4 million, and so they think they’re entitled to an Oscar nomination. Oh heck, if ticket sales equaled an Oscar, then for gods’ sakes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon would have swept last year’s awards, and we could look forward to a landslide from Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2. Molen and D’Souza think that because they are conservatives and made a documentary with a conservative point of view, one that was critical to Obama, they didn’t get nominated. Maybe they didn’t get nominated because their film wasn’t as compelling/interesting/well made or unique as the fifteen on the short list (and yeah, I have some quibbles about certain films I think should have made the cut, but didn’t. And I’m sure every single documentary filmmaker thinks their film should have been one of the fifteen!)
There are many, many movies made every year, features and documentaries, and the majority don’t get close to getting an Oscar nomination (or even distribution!). And there has been a major increase in documentary filmmaking (probably the only good thing to come out of reality TV is that people want to see real stories, about real people, to learn more about the world around them); some have a very liberal perspective, some are critical of the current administration. Out of the fifty docs we featured this year on FDL Movie Night, way more than 10% deserved to be shortlisted, yet less than 10% made it even that close to a nomination.
What is really galling, though, is how super nasty and mean-spirited Molen and D’Souza are about two of the films that were shortlisted, Searching for Sugar Man and This Is Not a Film. D’Souza commented to the Hollywood Reporter:
By ignoring 2016, the top-performing box-office hit of 2012, and pretending that films like Searching for Sugar Man and This Is Not a Film are more deserving of an Oscar, our friends in Hollywood have removed any doubt average Americans may have had that liberal political ideology, not excellence, is the true standard of what receives awards.
(Given the subject matter of This Is Not a Film, one wonders how on earth D’Souza and Molen could see a liberal bias for the nomination, since it’s a documentary about the totalitarian regime in Iran, and don’t conservatives dislike Iran’s current government?)
D’Souza and Molen got a movie made. They got it into theaters. They made money. So they didn’t get on the short list of nominated docs. They are still better off than the majority of filmmakers, feature and documentary, worldwide. Maybe they should just quit bellyaching and go make another movie while dining off the publicity they are generating by bitching about not getting a noticed by the Academy.
And please join us Monday December 10 for The Waiting Room:
The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film – using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover – offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.
The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. Steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. The film weaves the stories of several patients – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – as they cope with the complexity of the nation’s public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession.
The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution coping with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. It is a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together as humans.