Mamo #336: It’s An Honour Just Being Mamo

It’s Mamo Christmas! The Oscar Nominations for 2013 are announced and as usual, there’s a whole lot of people who could’ve sworn “merit” was going to enter into this somewhere. Mamo discusses.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo336.mp3

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Goon
Guest

I recognize “Stories We Tell” is a Toronto phenomenon, but it was not “nothing” in the states. It had a wide enough release to make nearly 2 million, which for a documentary is sizeable, and around 4 times as much as Act of Killing, around half as much as 20 Feet From Stardom, and about as much as Blackfish which was EVERYWHERE. Reviews were near 100% on RottenTomatoes, and pretty much every list of top documentaries includes it.

Sean Kelly
Guest

I’m inclined to agree. There was even an article in today’s Toronto Star saying that STORIES WE TELL was highly expected to get a nomination and the fact that it didn’t is a huge blow to the NFB.

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2014/01/17/oscar_snub_latest_blow_for_national_film_board.html

Matt Brown
Guest

I stand by my comment. Did STORIES WE TELL mount a campaign to get that nomination? If it did, I saw none of it.

Sean Kelly
Guest

It was highly expected to get a nomination based on the fact that the film was a winner at the New York Film Critics Awards earlier this month, as well as the Toronto Film Critics Association last year.

The film also received a Director’s Guild nomination, along with The Acting of Killing, The Square, Cutie and the Boxer, and The Crash Reel (three of which ended up getting Oscar nominations).

So yeah, people’s aren’t really that off the mark in saying that STORIES WE TELL was snubbed.

Matt Brown
Guest

OK, but read my comment above. It has nothing to do with critics groups giving it an award. Did it mount a campaign in the United States to get an Oscar nomination?

Matt Gamble
Guest

Film Critics don’t have a single vote in the Academy, so getting nominations from two film critic societies carries zero weight.

And like Matt said, if it didn’t campaign it doesn’t stand a shot in Hell of getting a nomination as Sarah Polley doesn’t have the name to get over that kind of hurdle.

Sean Kelly
Guest

If you look at the link Matthew Fabb posted, it looks like the film did indeed campaign.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Apparently before picking the final Oscar documentary nominations, a list of 15 movies are put together and Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell was on that list according to this article:
http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2013/12/05/sarah_polleys_stories_we_tell_ramps_up_oscar_campaign.html
That article goes into the campaign for the Oscar which includes the following quote NFB producer Anita Lee: “I really am learning that it’s not just about the merit of the film, it is very strategic and political, and it involves marketing and a very big Oscar machinery that exists in the U.S. industry,”
Which I think sums up nicely why it might not have been nominated (I haven’t seen the film myself).

Marina
Guest

20 Feet from Stardom IS damned spectacular. Very highly recommended.

Sean Kelly
Guest

The film turned out to be the most successful film to screen at the Bloor Cinema, since it switched to an all documentary format. It was brought back to the cinema many times over the course of the year.

Courtney Small
Guest

Your point about Armond White’s comments swaying voters is a valid one. Although White was equally harsh to Django Unchained, I have noticed that people are paying much closer attention to his numerous remarks towards 12 Years a Slave. Like you stated it is as if the thought process has shifted to “well if this African-American does not think it is good then it probably is not…after all he would know.” Outside of White though, the African-American response to the film has barely been a blip in the coverage of the film. All the conversation has been around white liberal guilt impacting people’s response of the film, which was a huge component of White’s critique.

The question regarding if 12 Years a Slave was built to win awards or built to tell the truth is an interesting one. I think it actually falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. If the film offered a truly honest depiction of a dark chapter in American history, instead of a somewhat academy friendly version, would the masses go see it? Probably not. Many viewers, including White himself, thought that this interpretation was too harsh in its current form; whereas others, myself included, would argue it could have gone even further in its brutality. More importantly would the film even get made in a system that is obsessed with the financial bottom line? Keep in mind the studio system still views films with non-white male leads as “too risky”. Frankly, without Pitt I doubt the film would have seen the light of day.

I guess it all comes down to how we view modern social injustice filmmaking in general. Especially in terms of what traits in films actually lead us to action…or at least think differently about a particular subject. I would argue that most of the time it provides much to think about but only minimally changes our day to day lives. Also, I think how far removed we are from a subject plays into it as well. It is why we do not even bat an eye at the numerous films that have been set during World War II. Considering that we still have a direct link to those who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust there is no shortage of stories to tell about that era. Are we simply too far removed from slavery to the point where the simple response is now “yep, I already knew slavery is bad” or “Roots already covered this ground?” I wonder. Even now films about race in modern America are a dicey topic and rarely get a wide release. This is possibly why Django, which I also enjoyed, has become the new face of slavery for this generation. It offers that escapist fantasy where people can walk away saying “see slavery was bad but Django got his retribution so all is well with the world”. I know I am simplifying things a bit but you get the point.

Sorry, did not mean to ramble but you guys raised a lot of interesting points in this episode.

Kurt
Guest

Brave actually won the BEST ANIMATED Film Oscar.

Matt Brown
Guest

How quickly I completely forgot.

Kurt
Guest

And…Agreed that PRISONERS has perhaps the best traditional cinematography of 2013 for a wide-released narrative film, either that or “HER” (which wasn’t nominated…) – I never got to see ENEMY however, apparently, it’s really good looking too.

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