Three documentaries that confront the realities of American racism have a shot at nominations in the 89th Academy Awards’ “Documentary Feature” category.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shortlisted “13th,” “O.J.: Made in America” and “I Am Not Your Negro” alongside 12 other feature-length documentaries. An Academy statement issued yesterday (December 6) said that the body selected the shortlisted films from a total of 145 submissions.
The Ava DuVernay-directed “13th” examines the historical, social and economic factors behind contemporary mass incarceration. The film’s title refers to the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery ”except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” That condition cleared the way for the justice system’s continued exploitation of Black and Brown people.
“O.J.: Made in America’s” five episodes explore the life of athlete and cultural juggernaut O.J. Simpson before, during and after his controversial trial for allegedly murdering his White ex-wife Nicole Simpson-Brown. Ezra Edelman’s docuseries addresses Simpson’s desire for White America’s acceptance, and how his 1995 trial was a microcosm of the nation’s racial tension.
“I Am Not Your Negro” builds on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript for “Remember this House,” a prospective account of the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The film weaves these narratives within a greater story of Black racial justice activism between the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements. It was directed by Hatian filmmaker and former politician Raoul Peck and premieres nationwide on February 3.
Read the full nomination shortlist here. The Oscar nominees will be announced on January 24.