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DocuWeeks will give 17 documentaries, 7 shorts a shot at Oscar

July 6, 2011 |  4:15 pm

ElmoA batch of documentaries that have yet to secure theatrical distribution deals will be coming to a screen near you soon -- and will have the chance to score the ultimate filmmaking accolade: an Oscar.

On Wednesday, the International Documentary Assn. announced it had selected 17 feature-length documentaries along with seven short films to be screened in the group's annual DocuWeeks showcase. For the last 15 years, DocuWeeks has allowed films the chance to get a coveted one-week theatrical run in Los Angeles and New York. Why is that such a big deal? Not only does that allow the often little-seen movies to reach audiences -- but it also means the pictures can then officially be nominated in the best documentary category at the Academy Awards next year. 2010's DocuWeeks, for example, ended up yielding a nomination for the environmental film "Wasteland," which was never seen in theaters outside of the event.

A number of the films selected this year have already played at prominent film festivals nationwide. "Being Elmo," about a poor African American kid from suburban Baltimore who grew up to voice the "Sesame Street"  puppet, was received warmly at the Sundance Film Festival in January. "Miss Representation," a film about the objectification of women in the media directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom (wife of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom), also premiered in Park City, Utah. And "Unfinished Spaces," which focuses on work to construct a Cuban National Art Schools complex in the early 1960s, was part of a special Cuban program at the Los Angeles Film Festival last month.

Among the shorts being screened are "Poetry of Resilience," a 40-minute look at six poets who lived through political disasters; "The Home Front," about feuds between neighbors; and "Sun City Picture House," about building a cinema in earthquake-ravaged Haiti that was executive produced by actresses Olivia Wilde and Maria Bello.

The movies will screen Aug. 19 through Sept. 8 at the Laemmle Sunset 5 and Aug. 12 through Sept. 1 at New York's IFC Center.

A full list of all the films being screened during DocuWeeks follows on the jump.


-- "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey," Constance Marks
-- "Better This World," Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega
-- "A Bitter Taste of Freedom," Marina Goldovskaya
-- "The Boy Mir — Ten Years in Afghanistan," Phil Grabskyanistan
-- "The Carrier," Maggie Betts
-- "Darwin," Nick Brandestini
-- "Dying to do Letterman," Joke Fincioen, Biagio Messina
-- "Hell and Back Again," Danfung Dennis
-- "The Mexican Suitcase," Trisha Ziff
-- "Miss Representation," Jennifer Siebel Newsom
-- "Phnom Penh Lullaby," Pawel Kloc
-- "The Power of Two," Marc Smolowitz
-- "Semper Fi: Always Faithful," Rachel Libert, Tony Hardmon
-- "S.O.S./ State of Security," Michèle Ohayon
-- "The Tiniest Place (El Lugar Más Pequeño)," Tatiana Huezo
-- "To Be Heard," Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan
-- "Unfinished Spaces," Alysa Nahmias, Benjamin Murray


-- "The Barber of Birmingham," Gail Dolgin, Robin Fryday
-- "The Home Front," Phie Ambo
-- "Library of Dust," Ondi Timoner, Robert James
-- "Maya Deren’s Sink," Barbara Hammer
-- "Poetry of Resilience," Katja Esson
-- "Sand," CariAnn Shim Sham
-- "Sun City Picture House," David Darg


Sundance 2011: Elmo talks about his butt [Video]

Sundance 2011: Are the media keeping women out of politics? [Updated]

Fresh looks at Cuba in the Los Angeles Film Festival

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Kevin Clash, animating Elmo on "Sesame Street." Credit: Richard Termine.

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