88th Academy Awards: Documentary Features Shortlist

PR Collaborative was honored to have worked on eight of the 15 films in the Documentary Features category that were shortlisted for the 88th Academy Awards: 

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  • Best of Enemies (Magnolia Pictures) - In the summer of 1968, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley, Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. As they debated politics and policies, their explosive exchanges devolved into vitriolic name-calling, keeping viewers riveted and changing television news forever.
  • Cartel Land (The Orchard) - In the Mexican state of Michoacán, Dr. Jose Mireles, a small-town physician known as "El Doctor," leads the Autodefensas, a citizen uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Meanwhile, in Arizona's Altar Valley – a narrow, 52-mile-long desert corridor known as Cocaine Alley – Tim "Nailer" Foley, an American veteran, heads a small paramilitary group called Arizona Border Recon, whose goal is to stop Mexico’s drug wars from seeping across the American border. CARTEL LAND is an on-the-ground look at the journeys of two modern-day vigilante groups and their shared enemy: the murderous Mexican drug cartels.
  • The Hunting Ground (RADiUS-TWC) – A haunting expose of sexual assault on college campuses, The Hunting Ground follows undergraduate rape survivors pursuing both their education and justice, despite ongoing harassment of them and their families. Scrutinizing the gamut of higher education from elite Ivies and state universities to small colleges, the filmmakers reveal a system of institutional cover-ups, rationalizations, victim-blaming, and denial that creates perfect storm conditions for sexual predators to prey with impunity.
  • The Look of Silence (Drafthouse Films) –Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: confront the men who killed his brother. A powerful companion piece to Oppenheimer’s Oscar-nominated documentary, The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence
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  • 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets (Participant Media) - On Black Friday 2012, a white middle-aged male and a black teenager exchanged angry words over the volume of the music in the boy’s car. Michael Dunn fired 10 bullets at a car full of unarmed teenagers and then fled. Three of those bullets hit 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who died at the scene. Thus began the long journey of unraveling the truth. The film follows that journey, revealing how hidden racial prejudice can result in tragedy.
  • We Come as Friends (BBC Worldwide North America) - At the moment when the Sudan, the continent’s biggest country, is being divided into two nations, an old “civilizing” pathology re-emerges – that of colonialism, the clash of empires, and new episodes of bloody (and holy) wars over land and resources. The director explores the landscape in his tiny, self-made, tin and canvas flying machine, entering improbable locations and getting access to people’s thoughts and dreams in both stunning and heartbreaking ways. Chinese oil workers, UN peacekeepers, Sudanese warlords, and American evangelists ironically weave common ground in this documentary.
  • Where to Invade Next – Michael Moore, playing the role of “invader,” visits a host of nations to learn how the U.S. could improve its own prospects. This eye-opening comedy is a call to arms. Turns out the solutions to America’s most entrenched problems already exist in the world—they’re just waiting to be co-opted. Click here to read more about our work with Where to Invade Next. [Link to blog post]
  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Netflix) - Chronicling events that unfolded over 93 days in 2013 and 2014, this film witnesses the formation of a new civil rights movement in Ukraine. What started as peaceful student demonstrations supporting European integration morphed into a full-fledged violent revolution calling for the resignation of the nation's president. Winter on Fire captures the remarkable mobilization of nearly a million citizens from across the country protesting the corrupt political regime that utilized extreme force against its own people.

PR Collaborative managed media strategy, outreach and research for the documentaries. We take great pride in helping these documentary filmmakers share their stories, which often shed light on important current issues and promote social activism. 124 films were originally submitted in the category, and the five nominees will be announced on January 14, 2016.