Annal: 2011 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature

Results of the Academy Award® in the year 2011.

Film:Inside Job (Charles Ferguson)

Inside Job

Charles Ferguson

From Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker, Charles Ferguson, comes Inside Job, the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, Inside Job traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.

Film:Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Banksy

Los Angeles based Frenchman Thierry Guetta gets the idea that he would like to film street artists in the process of creating their work. He tells them that he is making a documentary, when in reality he has no intention of editing the footage into one cohesive movie. Unaware of this latter fact, many street artists from around the world agree to participate. Thierry even gets into the act by assisting them in creating the art. One of the artists that participates is the camera-shy Brit Banksy, who refuses to be shown on screen unless he is blacked out. Banksy does convince Thierry to use the footage to make a movie. In Thierry doing so, Banksy comes to the realization that Thierry is a lousy filmmaker, but he is an interesting character in an odd yet appealing way. So Banksy decides to use the footage and add additional material to make his own movie about Thierry’s journey in this project. Since Thierry spent so much time involved in the process of street art, Banksy also convinces Thierry to become a street artist himself. Thierry reinvents himself as street artist MBW, an acronym for ‘Mr. Brainwash’. Banksy, in the end, may regret this suggestion.

Film:Gasland

Gasland

Josh Fox

The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of ”fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called Gasland. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.

Film:Restrepo

Restrepo

Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger

Restrepo is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo,” named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 94-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.

Film:Waste Land (documentary)

Waste Land

Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, João Jardim

Filmed over nearly three years, Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Walker (Devil s Playground, Blindsight, Countdown to Zero) has great access to the entire process and, in the end, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.

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