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Here They Are, All 151 Oscar-Qualifying Documentaries (Exclusive)

The record-setting deluge of eligible docs ranges from ”The Act of Killing“ to ”Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride“


Which is better, “The United States of Autism” or “The United States of Football?”

Which musicians were the subject of the best documentary — background singers, a white rhythm section from Alabama, a Russian punk band, a legendary songwriter from Brooklyn or a Filipino Journey fan who became the band’s lead singer?

And which Oscar winners deserve another trip to the podium — Alex Gibney, Jonathan Demme, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine or Roger Ross Williams?

Those are some of the questions raised by the formidable list of 151 documentaries that qualified for the Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature category this year, a record total 20 percent more than the previous record set in 2012.

TheWrap obtained the complete list, which ranges from A to Z — that is, from “The Act of Killing” to “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride” — and from “The Short Game” to “Long Shot,” from “First Comes Love” to “The Last of the Unjust.”

Also read: ‘Act of Killing’ Director on Filming His Shocking Documentary: It Gave Me Nightmares

The record number of submissions suggests that while AMPAS rules designed to hurt made-for-TV docs and qualifying programs like the International Documentary Association’s Docu Weeks did have some effect — the IDA discontinued DocuWeeks in favor of its own screening series — they certainly didn’t reduce the number of qualifying films.

More than a dozen of the films are listed as HBO Documentaries on the cable channel’s website, while dozens of others used self-financed qualifying runs to enter the race.

Only about a third of the qualifying films, 53, are listed by Boxoffice Mojo as having had theatrical releases during 2013.

“Last year DocuWeeks received some blame for increasing the number of films that qualified for the Oscar,” International Documentary Association executive director Michael Lumpkin told theWrap. “In hindsight, I see that DocuWeeks probably helped to keep the Academy’s submissions lower, since our qualifying program was curated. Many that didn’t make our program may have decided it wouldn’t be worth going to the trouble and expense to qualify.”

Lumpkin said that 273 films qualified for this year’s IDA Awards, which do not require an Oscar-style qualifying run. That number was about 50 fewer than the previous year, a dropoff he attributed to the move to an in-house submission system after using Withoutabox in previous years.

The Cinema Eye Honors, the other major award for nonfiction films, has 174 eligible films this year, only 55 of which are also on the Oscar list.

The 151 Oscar-qualifying films include movies from directors represented on the Cinema Eye’s recent list of the 25 most influential docs of all time (Frederick Wiseman’s “At Berkeley,” Claude Lanzmann’s “The Last of the Unjust,” Errol Morris’ “The Unknown Known”), and films from Oscar-winning feature-doc directors (Alex Gibney’s “The Armstrong Lie” and “We Steal Secrets”), Oscar-winning short-doc directors (Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine’s “Life According to Sam,” Roger Ross Williams’ “God Loves Uganda”) and an Oscar-winning narrative-feature director (Jonathan Demme’s “Enzo Avitabile Music Life”).

Also read: Orson Welles, Werner Herzog, Michael Moore Films Make List of All-Time Influential Docs (Exclusive)

There are docs about artists (“Tim’s Vermeer,” “Cutie and the Boxer,” “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird,” “Herblock: The Black & the White”), docs about musicians (“AKA Doc Pomus,” “Becoming Traviata,” “Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey,” “Muscle Shoals,” “My Father and the Man in Black,” “One Direction: This Is Us,” “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” “Sound City,” “20 Feet From Stardom,” “12 12 12”), docs about sports figures (“The Crash Reel,” “Linsanity,” “The Short Game,” “The Trials of Muhammad Ali”) and docs about movies (“CinemAbility,” “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” “Liv and Ingmar”).

the-short-game-posterTwo, “More Than Honey” and “The Missing Picture,” are also submissions in the Best Foreign Language Film category, a two-fer also enjoyed by doc nominee “Pina” two years ago.

Two of the qualifying films, “Sound City” and “More Than Honey,” have 100 percent positive ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, while “20 Feet From Stardom” is at 99 percent, “Blackfish” at 98 percent, “The Act of Killing” and “Call Me Kuchu” at 97 percent, “Cutie and the Boxer” at 96 percent, “Stories We Tell,” “Muscle Shoals” and “We Steal Secrets” at 95 percent.

And, to be honest, a large number of the films don’t have much chance of landing on the shortlist, or even of being seen by enough voters to have a shot.

Members of the Documentary Branch now have screeners of all 151, and have been asked to vote for their five favorites to create a 15-film shortlist that will be revealed in December.

The-Long-Shot-posterAlso read: Oscar Documentary Overhaul Creates Screener Overload for Voters (Exclusive)

(Note: The list was given to TheWrap by an intermediary, with a few errors in titles that we tried to correct. We can’t find any record of one of the titles, “The Cinema: A Brief History of World Cinema.”)

Here (take a deep breath before jumping in) is the entire list:

The Act of Killing
After Tiller
AKA Doc Pomus
American Made Movie
American Promise
Approved for Adoption
The Armstrong Lie
At Berkeley

Becoming Traviata
Best Kept Secret
Bettie Page Reveals All
Bidder 70
Big Men
These Birds Walk
Blood Brother
Brave Miss World
Bridging the Gap

Call Me Kuchu
Casting By
The Cinema: A Brief History of World Cinema
Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen
The Crash Reel
Cutie and the Boxer

Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay
Dirty Wars
Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey

Enzo Avitabile Music Life
Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story
Fire In The Blood
First Comes Love
First Cousin Once Removed
For No Good Reason
Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners
Free China: The Courage to Believe
Free The Mind

The Gardener
Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird
Gasland II
Generation Iron
The Ghosts In Our Machine
Gideon’s Army
Girl Rising
The Girls in The Band
Go Grandriders
God Loves Uganda
Good Ol’ Freda
Greedy Lying Bastards
Growing Up Refugee

Hava Nagila: The Movie
Herblock: The Black & The White

I Am Breathing
Inequality For All
Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? An Animated Conversation With Noam Chomsky
It’s Better To Jump

Jodorwsky’s Dune


The Last of The Unjust
Let The Fire Burn
Letters to Jackie
Life According To Sam
Lion Ark
Liv and Ingmar
Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story

Married and Counting
MisLead: America’s Secret Epidemic
The Missing Picture
Mondays With William
Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve
More Than Honey
Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary
Murph: The Protector
Muscle Shoals
The Muslims Are Coming!
My Father and the Man in Black

Narco Cultura
The Network
The New Black
99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film
No Place on Earth
Not Yet Begun to Fight

One Direction: This is Us
One PM Central Standard Time
Our Nixon

Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey
Pandora’s Promise
The Paw Project
A Place At The Table
Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself
The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Re-emerging: The Jews of Nigeria
Rescue in the Philippines:  Refuge from the Holocaust
The Revolutionary Optimists
Rising from Ashes
A River Changes Course
Running From Crazy

The Second Meeting
Seduced and Abandoned
Shepard & Dark
The Short Game
Six By Sondheim
Sound City
Spark: A Burning Man Story
Spinning Plates
The Square
State 194
Stolen Seas
Stories We Tell
Storm Surfers in 3D
The Summit
Sweet Dreams
Symphony of the Soil

Terms and Conditions May Apply
Tim’s Vermeer
The Trials of Muhammad Ali
12 12 12
20 Feet From Stardom
Two: The Story of Roman and Nyro

The Unbelievers
The United States of Autism
The United States of Football
The Unknown Known

Valentine Road
Valentino’s Ghost

Walter: Lessons From The World’s Oldest People
Wampler’s Ascent
War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State
We Came Home
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
We The Parents
We Will See Tomorrow
When I Walk
Which Way Is the Front Line From Her? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington
Why We Ride
Winter Nomads

Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride