The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
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Oscar Odds Stacked Against Documentary Directors

6 January 2017 9:00 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

In the nearly 75 years since the Oscars began awarding a documentary feature, no non-fiction filmmaker has ever been nominated for director, despite being eligible for the prize.

The most obvious reason is that “directing” seems antithetical to the spirit of nonfiction, which is about revealing unsullied truths about the world in which we live. Documentary directors have been generally regarded as observers or journalists, rather than as creative artists, and the Oscar process has, until recently, rewarded more conservative approaches to the form.

Such prominent documentary figures as Errol Morris and Werner Herzog worked for decades before the Academy honored them. Morris’ “The Fog of War” won the 2004 Oscar and Herzog’s “Encounters at the End of the World” was nominated in 2009. But even those films, as quirky and iconoclastic as they are, operated in the familiar spheres of journalistic interrogation and fact-filled nature docs. It’s always been expected »

- Scott Tobias

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