Annal: 2003 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature

Results of the Academy Award® in the year 2003.

Film:Bowling for Columbine

Bowling for Columbine

Michael Moore

Michael Moore’s superb documentary (following in the footsteps of Roger & Me and The Big One) tackles a meaty subject: gun control. Moore skillfully lays out arguments surrounding the issue and short-circuits them all, leaving one impossible question: why do Americans kill each other more often than people in any other democratic nation? Moore focuses his quest around the shootings at Columbine High School and the shooting of one 6-year-old by another near his own hometown of Flint, Michigan. By approaching the headquarters of K-Mart (where the…

Film:Daughter from Danang

Daughter from Danang

Vicente Franco, Gail Dolgin

A mix of epic history and intimate family portrait, Daughter from Danang follows the reunion of a Tennessee woman, Heidi, with her Vietnamese mother and siblings after 22 years. Shipped to the U.S. in the waning days of the Vietnam war, Heidi—formerly Mai Thi Hiep—was the daughter of a white American soldier and a Danang woman abandoned by her Viet Cong husband. Fearing reprisals against Amerasian children, Hiep’s mother, despite unbearable pain, gave Hiep to an adoption agency. Raised by an abusive woman in Pulaski (birthplace of the KKK), Hiep/Heidi kept…

Film:Prisoner of Paradise

Prisoner of Paradise

Stuart Sender, Malcolm Clarke

The documentary tells the true story of Kurt Gerron, a successful German-Jewish actor and director, who after being sent to a concentration camp, was forced by his captors to direct the pro-Nazi propaganda film, “The Fuhrer Gives a City to the Jews.” In addition to exploring his life, it details the remarkable detective story in which Gerron’s film, lost for decades after World War II, was tracked down and painstakingly put back together.

Film:Spellbound

Spellbound

Jeffrey Blitz

Who would have thought that a documentary about spelling-bee contestants could be as suspenseful as a Hitchcock thriller? Spellbound, which follows eight kids from their early victories in regional spelling bees to the national competition in Washington, D.C., is an out-and-out nail-biter. Each of the kids—who range from a quietly driven African American girl from a run-down D.C. neighborhood, to a genial Connecticut girl who talks about bringing her au pair to a previous competition, to an almost zombie-like boy whose immigrant father has paid…

Film:Winged Migration

Winged Migration

Jacques Perrin

For earthbound humans, Winged Migration is as close as any of us will get to sharing the sky with our fine feathered friends. It’s as if French director Jacques Perrin and his international crew of dedicated filmmakers had been given a full-access pass by Mother Nature herself, with the complete “cooperation” of countless species of migrating birds, all answering to eons of migratory instinct. The film is utterly simple in purpose, with minimal narration and on-screen titles to identify the wondrous varieties of flying wildlife, but its visceral effect is…

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