15 Documentaries shortlisted for the 88th Academy Awards

“Amy”, “Going Clear” and “The Look of Silence” among the titles in the list.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday, Dec 1, that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 88th Academy Awards®. One hundred twenty-four films were originally submitted in the category.

Here is the list of films in alphabetical order:

AMY by Asif Kapadia (UK/USA)

The story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks.

BEST OF ENEMIES by Robert Godron and Morgan Neville (USA)

A documentary on the series of televised debates in 1968 between the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr.

Click here to listen to FRED interview director Robert Gordon on his documentary BEST OF ENEMIES – FRED English channel

CARTEL LAND by Matthew Heineman (Mexico/USA)

A physician in Michoacán, Mexico leads a citizen uprising against the drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Across the U.S. border, a veteran heads a paramilitary group working to prevent Mexico’s drug wars from entering U.S. territory.


An in-depth look at the inner-workings of the Church of Scientology.

Click here to listen to FRED’s interview with Alex Gibney on his documentary THE ARMSTRONG LIE – FRED English channel

HE NAMED ME MALALA by David Guggenheim (UAE/USA)

A look at the events leading up to the Taliban’s attack on Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls’ education followed by the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.

HEART OF A DOG by Laurie Anderson (France/USA)

An impressionistic and musical meditation on a pets death with prelude by the artist Laurie Anderson, who enjoyed a very deep relationship with her dog, with following soundtrack.

Click here to listen to FRED interview Laurie Anderson on her film HEART OF A DOG – FRED English channel


An exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and the devastating toll they take on students and their families.

LISTEN TO ME MARLON by Stevan Riley (UK)

A documentary that utilizes hundreds of hours of audio that Marlon Brando recorded over the course of his life to tell the screen legend’s story.

THE LOOK OF SILENCE by Joshua Oppenheimer (Denmark/Indonesia/Finland/Norway/UK/Israel/France/USA/Germany/Netherland)

A family that survives the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers.

Click here to listen to FRED interview Joshua Oppenheimer on his documentary THE LOOK OF SILENCE – FRED English channel

MERU by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (India/USA)

Three elite climbers struggle to find their way through obsession and loss as they attempt to climb Mount Meru, one of the most coveted prizes in the high stakes game of Himalayan big wall climbing.

3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS by Marc Silver (USA)

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving November 2012, four boys in a red SUV pull into a gas station after spending time at the mall buying sneakers and talking to girls. With music blaring, one boy exits the car and enters the store, a quick stop for a soda and a pack of gum. A man and a woman pull up next to the boys in the station, making a stop for a bottle of wine. The woman enters the store and an argument breaks out when the driver of the second car asks the boys to turn the music down. 3 1/2 minutes and ten bullets later, one of the boys is dead. 3 1/2 MINUTES dissects the aftermath of this fatal encounter.

WE COME AS FRIENDS by Hubert Sauper (France/Austria)

As war-ravaged South Sudan claims independence from North Sudan and its brutal President, Omar al-Bashir, a tiny, homemade prop plane wings in from France. It is piloted by eagle-eyed documentarian Hubert Sauper, who is mining for stories in a land trapped in the past but careening toward an apocalyptic future.


A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the “High Priestess of Soul.”

Click here to listen to FRED interview Lix Garbus and Lisa Simone Kelly on the documentary WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? – FRED English channel


To learn what the USA can gain from other nations, Michael Moore playfully “invades” them to see what they have to offer.

WINTER ON FIRE by Evgeny Afineevsky (UK/Ukraine/USA)

A documentary on the unrest in Ukraine during 2013 and 2014, as student demonstrations supporting European integration grew into a violent revolution calling for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

The Academy’s Documentary Branch determined the shortlist in a preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles.

The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 14.

  • Reporter
    Matt Micucci
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