Nominees for the 22nd annual IFP Gotham Awards were announced this morning, and as usual there’s an interesting mix of films up for the honor of Best Documentary. One of these five highly dissimilar works could join the varied likes of past winners Murderball, Iraq in Fragments, The Agronomist and Food, Inc. when the Independent Feature Project hand out their big glass trophies on November 26th.
The Best Documentary nominees are Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s wonderful city portrait, Detropia (pictured), David France’s necessary AIDS chronicle, How to Survive a Plague, Matthew Akers’s gateway to performance art, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, Peter Nicks’s healthcare doc, The Waiting Room, and most curious of all inclusions, Rodney Ascher’s fun film studies meet conspiracy theory essay, Room 237.
Looking through the other categories (which include multiple nods for fiction films Bernie, Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild), I thought that for the first time since the introduction of the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You award (in 2004), there was no nonfiction title represented in the category. Last year, a doc, Scenes from a Crime, even won the award.
I’m told, however, that Terence Nance’s The Oversimplification of Her Beauty counts. Its hybrid of animation and artsy dramatization confused me, as I haven’t seen it. Yet I’m sure some doc purists wouldn’t call it a documentary even if being an essay film technically qualifies it as nonfiction. See the trailer for this film here: