Oscars Documentary Race Gets Only 138 Entries – 100 Fewer Than Last Year

With COVID-era eligibility rules tightened up and film production down, this year’s field will be the smallest since 2015

Summer of Soul Flee The Rescue
"Summer of Soul": Searchlight / "Flee": Neon / "The Rescue": NatGeo

A total of 138t films have been submitted to the Oscars Best Documentary Feature category this year, according to emails sent to members of the Academy’s Documentary Branch this week.

That number is a full 100 films shy of the record-shattering 238 that qualified in 2020. That year, many nonfiction films were able to qualify under new rules that made entering easier at a time when most theaters were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With some of those rules tightening up and overall film production slumping because of the pandemic, this year’s field is the smallest since 2015, when 124 films entered the race.

In the documentary-short category, 82 films have been entered. That is the smallest number since 2017, when 77 shorts qualified.

The 138 films are now in the members-only screening room for voters in the doc branch. The Academy will announce its official list of qualifying films at a later date, and it is possible that some of the films that are now available to voters will fail to qualify. Last year, two documentaries that were made available to members in the screening room didn’t meet eligibility requirements and were removed from the official list of films.

UPDATE: The Academy announced its list of qualifying documentaries on Dec. 6, and this list remains correct, without any additions or deletions.

While batches of documentaries are typically made available to branch members beginning in the summer, this year’s films went to voters later than usual. As of the beginning of November, only 42 doc features had been placed in the screening room, with four additional batches of films coming over the course of the month. On Nov. 24, a final group of 10 films were added to the room, with emails to voters saying that no additional films would be added and that “required-viewing” assignments would be sent out “soon.”

The 138 films include a number that have been nominated for or have won nonfiction awards already this year, among them “Ascension,” “Flee,” “Summer of Soul,” “Faya Dayi,” “The Rescue” and “Attica.”

Here is the list of the 138 films that are currently in the doc screening room:

“All About My Sisters”
“All Light, Everywhere”
“The Alpinist”
“American 965”
“Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness”

“Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power”
“Becoming Cousteau”
“Beijing Spring”
“Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts”
“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry”
“Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster”
“Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road”
“Bring Your Own Brigade”

“Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters”
“The Capote Tapes”
“Captains of Za’atari”
“Children of the Enemy”
“Citizen Ashe”
“Convergence: Courage in a Crisis”
“A Cop Movie”
“A Crime on the Bayou”

“Dave Chappelle Live in Real Life”
“The Deadliest Disease in America”
“Dying to Divorce”

“Enemies of the State”
“The Faithful: The King, the Pope, the Princess”
“Far Eastern Golgotha”
“Faya Dayi”
“Ferguson Rises”
“Final Account”
“Finding Kendrick Johnson”
“Fire Music”
“The First Wave”
“Five Years North”
“45 Days: The Fight for a Nation”

“Hell or High Seas”

“In the Same Breath”
“Introducing, Selma Blair”
“Iron Temple”

“The Jesus Music”
“The Jump”

“Karen Dalton: In My Own Time”
“Kill the Indian Save the Child”
“Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time”

“The Last Forest”
“The Last Shelter”
“Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres”
“Lily Topples the World”
“Little Girl”
“The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52”
“Los Hermanos/The Brothers”
“The Lost Leonardo”
“Love It Was Not”

“Magaluf Ghost Town”
“Man in the Field: The Life and Art of Jim Denevan”
“Marx Can Wait”
“Mayor Pete”
“The Meaning of Hitler”
“Minnesota! The Modern Day Selma”
“Misha and the Wolves”
“Missing in Brooks County”
“Moby Doc”
“The Most Beautiful Boy in the World”
“Mr. Bachman and His Class”
“The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses”
“My Childhood, My Country — 20 Years in Afghanistan”
“My Name Is Pauli Murray”

“The Neutral Ground”
“A New Dawn”
“No Ordinary Man”
“No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics”
“Not Going Quietly”
“Nothing But the Sun”

“On Broadway”
“Operation Varsity Blues”
“Ostrov – Lost Island”

“Paper & Glue”
“The Paradigm of Money”
“The People vs. Agent Orange”
“The Phantom”
“Playing With Sharks”
“Pray Away”

“Qazaq History of the Golden Man”
“Quiet Explosions, Healing the Brain”

“The Race to Save the World”
“Radiograph of a Family”
“The Real Charlie Chaplin”
“Rebel Hearts”
“The Repentants”
“The Rescue”
“Revolution of Our Times”
“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It”
“Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain”
“Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words”

“Seyran Ates: Sex, Revolution and Islam”
“Simple as Water”
“Sisters on Track”
“So Late So Soon”
“The Sparks Brothers”
“Speer Goes to Hollywood”
“Storm Lake”
“Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street”
“Summer Nights”
“Summer of Soul”

“Tigre Gente”
“Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation”
“Truth to Power”
“Try Harder!”
“2020: The Dumpster Fire”
“Two Gods”

“The Velvet Queen”
“The Velvet Underground”

“Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America”
“Writing With Fire”
“Wuhan Wuhan”