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First offerings at the DocuWeeks documentary showcase

August 19, 2011 |  9:18 pm

Over the next three weeks, 17 feature and seven documentary shorts will qualify for Academy Award consideration via the International Documentary Assn.'s 15th annual DocuWeeks Theatrical Documentary Showcase. DocuWeeks kicked off Friday at Laemmle's Sunset 5 and continues through Sept. 8.

Each film in the showcase will be screened for one week to meet academy requirements. "You have to have a one-week run in Los Angeles and New York," said the association's executive director, Michael Lumpkin. "For documentary shorts, you have to have a week run either in L.A. or New York."  (DocuWeeks began in New York last week.)

Though a place in DocuWeeks doesn't guarantee an Oscar nomination, Lumpkin points out that "last year we had three nominees, including the feature 'Waste Land' and two shorts."

Here's the line-up of this week's documentaries:


"The Boy Mir -- Ten Years in Afghanistan": Director/executive producer/writer Phil Grabsky's sequel to the hit "The Boy Who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan," this feature documentary follows the engaging Afghan boy Mir from the ages of 8 to 18.

"Darwin": Nick Brandestini's feature documentary about the community of Darwin in Death Valley. With only 35 residents, the near ghost-town must learn to survive without a church, jobs or even children.

"The Power of Two": Documentary producer Marc Smolowitz makes his directorial feature debut with this portrait of Anabel Stezel and Isabele Stenzel Byrnes, twins -- now 39 -- who have battled cystic fibrosis all of their lives and have become advocates for organ donations after both receiving double lung transplants.

"S.O.S/State of Security": Michele Ohayon wrote, produced and directed this portrait of Richard Clarke, who spent 30 years at the White House and was the counter-terrorism czar and head of cyber security.

Unfinished Spaces - official trailer from Alysa Nahmias on Vimeo.

"Unfinished Spaces": Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray directed this documentary about Cuba's National Art School, which was created in 1961 but halted shortly thereafter by Fidel Castro.


"The Barber of Birmingham": Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday directed this short about James Armstrong, an 85-year-old African American barber in Birmingham, Ala., who fought for the right to vote in the segregated South. He reflects on his past on the eve of the election of Barack Obama as president.

"Library of Dust": Ondi Timoner and Robert James directed this documentary about the thousands of corroded copper urns of the remains of mental patients at the Oregon State Hospital that were found in 2004.

Poetry of Resilience Excerpt from Penelope Pictures on Vimeo.

"Poetry of Resilience": Katja Esson wrote, produced and directed this 40-minute documentary about six poets from around the world who have survived political atrocities of the last century including Hiroshima, the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

Sand Trailer from Cari Ann Shim Sham* on Vimeo.

"Sand": CariAnn Shim Sham's visual collage examines a disappearing dance form -- sand dance -- that has its roots in the vaudeville and traveling shows of the early 20th century and is passed down from father to son. 

"Sun City Picture House": David Darg's short film is about a young Haitian man who encourages his community to build a new cinema after the devastating earthquake destroyed the old movie theaters in the country.

For a complete schedule and more information go to http://www.documentary.org/docuweeks2011?week-la1

-- Susan King


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