Rape of Nanking + Abused Haitian Workers: Oscar Documentary Semifinalists

For the Bible Tells Me So Daniel Karslake
For the Bible Tells Me.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today the list of 15 films in the Documentary Feature category that will move forward to the next voting phase for the 80th Academy Awards. Seventy feature documentaries had originally qualified in that category. Those were watched by the Academy's Documentary Branch screening committee for the preliminary round of voting.

This year's potential Oscar nominees offer a wide range of subjects, from the portrayal of a disabled U.S. veteran fighting for an end to the Iraq War in Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's Body of War to the high cost of (inadequate) health care in the United States in Michael Moore's Sicko.

Among the documentaries whose themes give seizures to right-wing ideologues everywhere are the study of the use of torture by American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo in Taxi to the Dark Side by Alex Gibney; Daniel G. Karslake's For the Bible Tells Me So (top photo), about the misuse of the Bible to condemn homosexuality; and Steven Okazaki's White Light/Black Rain, about the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Also, Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight shows how the George W. Bush administration created – and has helped to perpetuate – the bloody Iraqi chaos; Bill Haney's The Price of Sugar, narrated by Paul Newman, follows Father Christopher Hartley, whose fight for the rights of abused Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic has brought on the wrath of locals who believe that foreign workers exist so they can be ruthlessly exploited; and Peter Raymont's A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman takes Ariel Dorfman, Chile's Cultural Adviser to Salvador Allende, on a trip to the country from where he had to flee decades earlier following Augusto Pinochet's U.S.-backed military coup. (Dorfman's comments about tapped telephone wires remain quite relevant, and not only in Chile.)

And finally, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's Nanking tells the story of a small group of foreigners who saved thousands of Chinese during the “Rape of Nanking” in the late 1930s, when members of the Japanese Imperial Army – doing their bit for their country – ransacked the city, murdering and raping tens of thousands of people. (Japanese right-wingers to this day insist that the massacre never took place.) Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Nicole Newnham's The Rape of Europa, for its part, shows how the Nazis pillaged Europe's cultural heritage. (Surely there are German right-wingers who deny that ever happened.) The documentary is narrated by Joan Allen.

Still on a political plane, but with different approaches, are Sean Fine and Andrea Nix's War/Dance, about how three children from a Uganda refugee camp struggle to compete in that country's national music and dance festival; Richard Robbins' Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, an attempt to convey the feelings of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan through their letters; and Tony Kaye's Lake of Fire, which reportedly provides a balanced take on both sides of the abortion issue.

Tricia Regan's Autism: The Musical, about a group of autistic kids putting on a show, and Weijun Chen's Please Vote for Me, about third graders competing for the role of class reporter (as in one who reports on others who misbehave) at their school in China's Wahun province, seem to be the only feel-good documentaries in competition.

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order:

Autism: The Musical.

Body of War.

For the Bible Tells Me So.

Lake of Fire.


No End in Sight.

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience.

Please Vote for Me.

The Price of Sugar.

A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman.

The Rape of Europa.


Taxi to the Dark Side.


White Light/Black Rain.

Five of the above films will receive Oscar nominations.

The 80th Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time, in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Oscar ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the US, it'll be televised live by ABC.

Oscar 2008: Best Foreign Language Film Submissions

A record 63 countries, including newcomers Azerbaijan and Ireland, have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 80th Academy Awards.

(See Oscar 2008: Best Foreign Language Film Shortlist)


The 2007 submissions are:

Argentina, “XXY,” Lucia Puenzo, director;

Australia, “The Home Song Stories,” Tony Ayres, director;

Austria, “The Counterfeiters,” Stefan Ruzowitzky, director;

Azerbaijan, “Caucasia,” Farid Gumbatov, director;

Bangladesh, “On the Wings of Dreams,” Golam Rabbany Biplob, director;

Belgium, “Ben X,” Nic Balthazar, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “It's Hard to Be Nice,” Srdan Vuletic,director;

Brazil, “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation,” Cao Hamburger, director;

Bulgaria, “Warden of the Dead,” Ilian Simeonov, director;

Canada, “Days of Darkness,” Denys Arcand, director;

Chile, “Padre Nuestro,” Rodrigo Sepulveda, director;

China, “The Knot,” Yin Li, director;

Colombia, “Satanas,” Andi Baiz, director;

Croatia, “Armin,” Ognjen Svilicic, director;

Cuba, “The Silly Age,” Pavel Giroud, director;

Czech Republic, “I Served the King of England,” Jiri Menzel,director;

Denmark, “The Art of Crying,” Peter Schonau Fog, director;

Egypt, “In the Heliopolis Flat,” Mohamed Khan, director;

Estonia, “The Class,” Ilmar Raag, director;

Finland, “A Man's Job,” Aleksi Salmenpera, director;

France, “Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, directors;

Georgia, “The Russian Triangle,” Aleko Tsabadze, director;

Germany, “The Edge of Heaven,” Fatih Akin, director;

Greece, “Eduart,” Angeliki Antoniou, director;

Hong Kong, “Exiled,” Johnnie To, director;

Hungary, “Taxidermia,” Gyorgy Palfi, director;

Iceland, “Jar City,” Baltasar Kormakur, director;

India, “Eklavya - The Royal Guard,” Vidhu Vinod Chopra, director;

Indonesia, “Denias, Singing on the Cloud,” John De Rantau, director;

Iran, “M for Mother,” Rasoul Mollagholipour, director;

Iraq, “Jani Gal,” Jamil Rostami, director;

Ireland, “Kings,” Tom Collins, director;

Israel, “Beaufort,” Joseph Cedar, director;

Italy, “The Unknown,” Giuseppe Tornatore, director;

Japan, “I Just Didn't Do It,” Masayuki Suo, director;

Kazakhstan, “Mongol,” Sergei Bodrov, director;

Korea, “Secret Sunshine,” Chang-dong Lee, director;

Lebanon, “Caramel,” Nadine Labaki, director;

Luxembourg, “Little Secrets,” Pol Cruchten, director;

Macedonia, “Shadows,” Milcho Manchevski, director;

Mexico, “Silent Light,” Carlos Reygadas, director;

The Netherlands, “Duska,” Jos Stelling, director;

Norway, “Gone with the Woman,” Petter Naess, director;

Peru, “Crossing a Shadow,” Augusto Tamayo, director;

Philippines, “Donsol,” Adolfo Alix Jr., director;

Poland, “Katyn,” Andrzej Wajda, director;

Portugal, “Belle Toujours,” Manoel de Oliveira, director;

Puerto Rico, “Love Sickness,” Carlitos Ruiz, Mariem Perez, directors;

Romania, “4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” Cristian Mungiu, director;

Russia, “12,” Nikita Mikhalkov, director;

Serbia, “The Trap,” Srdan Golubovic, director;

Singapore, “881,” Royston Tan, director;

Slovakia, “Return of the Storks,” Martin Repka, director;

Slovenia, “Short Circuits,” Janez Lapajne, director;

Spain, “The Orphanage,” J.A. Bayona, director;

Sweden, “You, the Living,” Roy Andersson, director;

Switzerland, “Late Bloomers,” Bettina Oberli, director;

Taiwan, “Island Etude,” Chen Huai-En, director;

Thailand, “King of Fire,” Chatrichalerm Yukol, director;

Turkey, “A Man's Fear of God,” Ozer Kiziltan, director;

Uruguay, “The Pope's Toilet,” Enrique Fernandez, Cesar Charlone, directors;

Venezuela, “Postcards from Leningrad,” Mariana Rondon, director;

Vietnam, “The White Silk Dress,” Luu Huynh, director.


Nominations for the 2008 Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2007 will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network.

Christian de Portzamparc
Christian de Portzamparc to design A.M.P.A.S.'s Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Christian de Portzamparc to Design Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be designed by the French architecture firm Atelier Christian de Portzamparc. (Image: Christian de Portzamparc.)

The Casablanca-born Christian de Portzamparc, a graduate of Paris' École Nationale des Beaux Arts and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1994, designed the Cité de la Musique, the headquarters for the press group Le Monde, the Musée Bourdelle, and the Café Beaubourg in the French capital, in addition to the French Embassy building in Berlin, the Crédit Lyonnais tower in Lille, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, and the Musée Hergé in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. In the United States, de Portzamparc designed the LVMH Tower (the Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton headquarters) in New York City.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to show how 'film both reflects and shapes world culture'

In a press release, the Academy's Architect Selection Subcommittee chair Jeannine Oppewall was quoted as saying that “in part, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will demonstrate how film both reflects and shapes world culture, not just American culture. So we researched and interviewed leading architects from all over the world to see who could best express the Academy's vision of the museum. Ultimately, it was de Portzamparc who seemed the most in tune with that vision, and we know he and his team will have an exciting, creative approach to bringing it to fruition.”

The Academy wants the Museum of Motion Pictures to be located next to its Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study at Vine Street and Fountain Avenue in Hollywood. A planned museum campus will span nearly eight acres.

Work on the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is slated to begin in 2009.

Christian de Portzamparc photo: AFP / Jean-Pierre Muller.

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1 Comment to Rape of Nanking + Abused Haitian Workers: Oscar Documentary Semifinalists

  1. Justin

    Very helpful site. Thanks.