From Afghanistan to Elmo: This Year’s DocuWeeks Lineup Revealed

Annual Oscar-qualifying showcase to screen in Los Angeles and New York in August and September

The International Documentary Association's annual DocuWeeks showcase, which qualifies films for the Academy Awards, has unveiled a 2011 lineup that includes two different looks at Afghanistan, plus films about domestic terrorism, the HIV epidemic in Zambia, a Marine Corp cover-up of water contamination, architecture in Cuba and the puppet Elmo.

Unfinished SpacesThe 17 feature films and seven shorts will screen in three different week-long programs at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood and the IFC Center in New York City.  New York screenings will begin on Aug. 12 and run through Sept. 1, while L.A. screenings run Aug.19 through Sept. 8.

Each film will screen twice a day for a week, meeting the Academy's rules for qualifying films for the Oscars' Documentary Feature category.

Last year, Oscar feature nominee "Waste Land" and short nominees "Sun Come Up" and "Killing in the Name" participated in the DocuWeeks program, which over its 14-year run has showcased 17 Oscar nominees and seven winners.

Semper FiFilms are chosen for DocuWeeks by the International Documentary Association, though filmmakers pay a fee roughly commensurate with the cost of four-walling a film for a week for Oscar consideration.

Several of the films have already made an impact in festival and documentary circles, including "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey," a look at Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash;  "Darwin," which studies an isolated desert town in California; "Semper Fi: Always Faithful" (right), which follows a lifelong Marine trying to discover why his daughter died from a rare type of leukemia; and "Unfinished Spaces" (photo at top), a look at the Cuban revolution through the perspective of five remarkable art schools that were built but left unfinished.

More information about the films and schedule can be found at the IDA's DocuWeeks website.

This year's selections:


"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey"
Director/producer: Constance Marks
"Better This World"
Directors/producers/writers: Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega
"A Bitter Taste of Freedom"
Director/writer: Marina Goldovskaya
"The Boy Mir – Ten Years in Afghanistan"
Director/executive producer/writer: Phil Grabsky
"The Carrier"
Director/producer: Maggie Betts
Director/producer: Nick Brandestini
"Dying to do Letterman"
Directors/producers/executive producers: Joke Fincioen, Biagio Messina
"Hell and Back Again"
Director: Danfung Dennis
"The Mexican Suitcase"
Director/producer/writer: Trisha Ziff
"Miss Representation"
Director/producer/writer: Jennifer Siebel Newsom
"Phnom Penh Lullaby"
Director/producer/writer: Pawel Kloc
"The Power of Two"
Director/producer: Marc Smolowitz
"Semper Fi: Always Faithful"
Directors/producers: Rachel Libert, Tony Hardmon
"S.O.S./State of Security"
Director/producer/writer: Michele Ohayon
"The Tiniest Place (El Lugar Mas Pequeno)"
Director/writer: Tatiana Huezo
"To Be Heard"
Directors/producers: Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan
"Unfinished Spaces"
Directors/producers: Alysa Nahmias, Benjamin Murray

"The Barber of Birmingham"
Directors/producers: Gail Dolgin, Robin Fryday
"The Home Front"
Director: Phie Ambo
"Library of Dust"
Directors/producers: Ondi Timoner, Robert James
"Maya Deren's Sink"
Director/producer/writer: Barbara Hammer
"Poetry of Resilience"
Director/producer/writer: Katja Esson
Director/executive producer: CariAnn Shim Sham
"Sun City Picture House"
Director: David Darg