New York Times Op-Docs Make Presence Felt at Oscars, Sundance

“If the film gets an Oscar nomination, it will be the greatest honor,” “4.1 Miles” director tells TheWrap

The New York Times is already one of the most recognizable brands in the world but the company is currently making an impact in the film industry with a presence at Sundance and high hopes for an Oscar nomination.

Times’ Op-Doc “4.1 Miles” is a candidate to be nominated for Best Documentary Short on Tuesday, which would give the paper a chance to win it’s first ever Academy Award.

“If the film gets an Oscar nomination, it will, of course, be the greatest honor,” “4.1 Miles” director Daphne Matziaraki told TheWrap. “But most importantly it will mean that the Academy recognizes that the refugee crisis is indeed the most important story of the year. It will echo the message of ‘4.1 Miles’ that we all need each other and we are all very connected in this world. Our actions don’t just affect ourselves, this will set an example for the rest of the world. We live in historical times and this is a very important message to remind ourselves of.”

The Times has quietly been producing award-winning films that blend filmmaking with news media, and recent films cover everything from the refugee crisis to the issues with mass incarceration in Louisiana.

“4.1 Miles” showcases a coast guard captain on a small Greek island that is tasked with saving thousands of refuges from drowning at sea.

While Matziaraki is waiting to see if her film gets an Oscar nomination, another Op-Docs director is busy showcasing her film at Sundance. “Alone” is an investigation into the layers of mass incarceration and its shaping of the modern black American family as seen through the eyes of a single mother in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This is the sixth time that Op-Docs has premiered a series of films at Sundance, executive producer Kathleen Lingo told TheWrap. “We have a year-round relationship with the Sundance institute.”

Although “Alone” premiered last week at Sundance, director Garret Bradley is more excited for the public to check it out.

“It’s a huge honor for us to be here,” director Garret Bradley told TheWrap. “It’s been great to share it with industry people but the real payoff and what’s going to feel really exceptional is when we are able to get it out into the world.”

She won’t have to wait too long, as the film will premiere on the Times’ website on Valentines Day, which is fitting because Bradley calls it a “story about love.”

“I think that the goal is to try and create a very clear link between the systematic separation of families, spanning back to the years of slavery 250 years ago to mass incarceration and to show that these two things are not very different,” Bradley said.

While different directors have different ambitions, they both seem to agree that woking with the NewYork Times is a special opportunity for any filmmaker.

“Being part of Op-Docs has been an incredible journey. Getting to work with such an experienced, smart and inspiring team has made me a better filmmaker,” Matziaraki said. “They really embraced me and ‘4.1 Miles,’ made feel part of the team and have given the film all possible support.”