Minding the Gap, RBG, Lifeboat among contenders
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday unveiled shortlists in consideration for the 2019 Oscar awards. Among the documentaries singled out as the years best were several that played at Mountainfilms 2018 festival.
Of the 15 feature documentaries on the shortlist for that category, five appeared in Mountainfilms theaters over Memorial Day weekend. They include Dark Money, On Her Shoulders, RBG, Wont You Be My Neighbor and Mountainfilms 2018 Audience Choice and Best Documentary Feature Award-winner, Minding the Gap.
In the short category, meanwhile, two of the 10 films shortlisted for Oscars played at Mountainfilm. They include Marshall Currys haunting short A Night at the Garden, as well as Skye Fitzgeralds harrowing look at Tunisian migration, Lifeboat which had its world premiere in Telluride.
Mountainfilm Festival Director Suzan Beraza said its exciting news that reflects the caliber of documentaries Mountainfilm hosted last year.
2018 was a remarkable year for documentary storytelling, and Mountainfilm is so honored that seven films we programmed ended up on the Academys Oscar shortlist, Beraza said.
Now that the shortlists have been announced, members of the Academy have until Monday to vote for their favorites. This round of voting will determine the finalists narrowing each documentary category to five. Those finalists will be announced Jan. 21.
It always feels good to see your work recognized in some form or fashion, he said. Making the shortlist, he added, signals that Lifeboat has been seen and acknowledged by some very established people in the film industry.
Lifeboat hones in on migrants making the dangerous water passage from North Africa to Europe a desperate journey via crowded and flimsy rafts that too often ends in tragedy by embedding viewers onto the boats carrying migrants, as well as a rescue vessel operated by a German non-profit that fishes exhausted and depleted passengers out of the ocean.
Unlike video sound bites or news blips about the migration crisis, Beraza said, Lifeboat places the viewer into the issue in a visceral and unsettling way. The result is an outstanding piece of storytelling.
Its just visually stunning, heart-wrenching and an incredibly important issue, she said.
Premiering the film at Mountainfilm was a no-brainer, Fitzgerald said. He had such a great experience screening the 2015 short film, 50 Feet From Syria, at Mountainfilm, that he knew he would strive to return with his next film. (50 Feet From Syria and Lifeboat are the first two in a trilogy hes working on.)
Mountainfilm feels like my festival, Fitzgerald said. I made a concerted effort [with Lifeboat] to make Mountainfilm. It was my target.
The project was also awarded a 2017 Commitment Grant, which Fitzgerald said signaled Mountainfilms belief in the project. If he finishes the third in the trilogy, he says, he knows where hell bring it.
Lifeboat is currently available to screen on The New Yorkers website.