Spike Jonze on Oscar’s Shorts Shortlist

Doc on Maurice Sendak joins films about Chinese earthquake, assisted suicide among eight finalists.

Last Updated: October 11, 2009 @ 6:07 PM

The Oscar fate of Spike Jonze’s version of the Maurice Sendak classic "Where the Wild Things Are" is still up in the air, but even if it’s a flop the director could end up on the Kodak stage next March.

"Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak," a short documentary about the author co-directed by Jonze, is on the shortlist of doc shorts released today by the Academy’s documentary branch.

The film will air on HBO beginning October 14, though it had a quiet, brief theatrical run to qualify it for the Oscar. 

The list, the first of many shortlists the Academy will announce over the next couple of months, narrowed down the documentary shorts category from 37 submissions to eight finalists.  As usual, most of the finalists deal with serious subjects, including female soldiers in Nepal, the aftermath of an earthquake in China, the closing of a General Motors plant in Ohio, the assisted-suicide campaign of a Washington governor, and an army lieutenant who refused to go to Iraq in 2006.

The eight films chosen by a documentary branch committee, three-to-five of which will be the final nominees:

"China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province,"  Downtown Community Television Center, Inc. 

"The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner," Just Media. 

"The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant," Community Media Productions. 

"Lt. Watada," Chanlim Films.

"Music by Prudence," iThemba Productions, Inc. 

"Rabbit a la Berlin," MS Films. 

"Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak," Outside Productions.

"Woman Rebel," Women Rebel Films.