Academy Award Documentary Short Subject Contenders Down to Eight Films

Three of the shortlisted films, including Lucy Walker’s “The Lion’s Mouth Opens,” deal with terminal diseases

Last Updated: October 20, 2014 @ 4:53 PM

The field of documentary short subject contenders for an Academy Award has been narrowed to a shortlist of eight films, including Lucy Walker‘s “The Lion’s Mouth Opens,” Jeff Dupre’s “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace” and Student Academy Award winner Zijian Mu’s “One Child,” the Academy announced on Monday.

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The field is heavy with films about terminal diseases: Two-time nominee Walker’s film is an intimate look at a woman waiting to learn if she has inherited Huntington’s Disease, Aneta Kopacz’s “Joanna” is about a Polish woman who writes a blog when she finds out she has three months to live, and Tomasz Silwinski’s “Our Curse” deals with the director and his wife after they learn that their newborn son has an incurable disease.

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The other shortlisted films include Dupre’s “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace,” a look at a New York-based artist’s portraits of African-American women, from a filmmaker who produced the acclaimed 2012 documentary “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”; Ellen Goosenburg Kent’s HBO doc “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” which deals with volunteers at a hotline for veterans; “The Reaper” (“La Parka”), Mexican director Gabriel Serra’s film about a slaughterhouse worker; and “White Earth,” Christian Jensen’s film about the North Dakota oil boom.

“One Child” won a Student Academy Award in June for its look at the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China — though it won the Student Oscars’ bronze medal, finishing behind two other films that did not make the shortlist.

This is the first year that a bronze medal at the Student Oscars automatically qualifies a short for the Academy Awards; in past years, Mu’s film wouldn’t have been eligible unless it had also received a theatrical release or won an award from a qualifying film festival.

After a second round of voting by all members of the Academy’s Documentary Branch, three to five of the films will be nominated, depending on the scores they receive from voters.

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This year, 58 short documentaries qualified to compete for the award, a substantial increase from the 40 that qualified in 2013.

The Academy press release listed the eight films with their production companies. TheWrap has added the film’s directors.

“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” Perry Films (Ellen Goosenburg Kent)
“Joanna,” Wajda Studio (Aneta Kopacz)
“Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace,” Show of Force (Jeff Dupre)
“The Lion’s Mouth Opens,” Tree Tree Tree (Lucy Walker)
“One Child,” New York University (Zijian Mu)
“Our Curse,” Warsaw Film School (Tomasz Silwinski)
“The Reaper (La Parka),” Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (Gabriel Serra)
“White Earth,” Weary Traveler (Christian Jensen)

The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The Oscars will be held Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and will be televised live on ABC.