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Academy announces the 15 movies on its short list for best documentary

November 18, 2010 |  2:11 pm

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday announced its list of the 15 films that have made it onto the short list for this year's Oscar for best documentary. The most visible documentaries of the year -- Charles Ferguson's "Inside Job" (about the financial system meltdown) and Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman"  (about  the U.S. education system) -- both made the cut after being left off the International Documentary Awards list of nominees. Other veteran documentary filmmakers were recognized too: Alex Gibney's  "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" is on the list, as is "Waste Land" by Lucy Walker.

Street artist Banksy is one step closer to being an Oscar nominee, with his film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" making it to the list. Josh Fox's "Gasland," about the controversial gas retrieval process known as fracking, is being considered too, as is a movie on pianist Glenn Gould, "Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould," from directors Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont.

Madeleine Sackler's education documentary "The Lottery" has attracted the academy's attention, as has Weinstein Co.'s "The Tillman Story," director Amir Bar-Lev's look at Pat Tillman, the  football-star-turned-Marine whose death from friendly fire was covered up by the government. 

The rest of the list:

"Precious Life," from Shlomi Eldar, which chronicles the struggle of an Israeli pediatrician and a Palestinian mother to get treatment for her sick baby.

"Quest for Honor," by Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, which follows an activist's work with local lawmen and Kurdish government officials to eradicate honor killings.

The Afghanistan war doc "Restrepo," from Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger.

"This Way of Life," by Thomas Burstyn, about a unique family living in the wild mountains of New Zealand.

“Enemies of the People,” by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, about Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.

"William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe," a close look at the famed lawyer as told by his two daughters,  filmmakers Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler.

The documentary branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on the short list. The nominations will be announced in January and the Oscars will be handed out Feb. 27. 

-- Nicole Sperling