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Best Feature Documentary Oscar long-list announced

Keep on keepin' on postrIt’s December, which traditionally means that the battle for the Oscars officially kicks off with extra screenings and expensive drink dos. It is also now when we first get an indication of which films might take home that all important statue.

This Wednesday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 15 films long-listed for the Documentary Feature category. The 15 documentaries were picked from hundred thirty-four films originally submitted in the category.

We’ve seen a few surprises over the past year, and though everyone has their favourite, it’s difficult to say which films will eventually get a firm nomination. We therefore leave it to you to guess and speculate.

So, take a look at the long-listed docs (in alphabetical order) with their production companies and pick your favs:

Art and Craft – Purple Parrot Films

Mark Landis uses his incredible forgery skills to duplicate masterpieces of art and donate them to assorted museums and galleries.

The Case against 8 – Day in Court

A look at the aftermath and events that led up to California’s Proposition 8, which added a new provision to the state’s Declaration of Rights that defines marriage laws.

Citizen Koch – Elsewhere Films

Citizen Koch is a documentary concerning the political influence of American plutocrats following the Citizens United ruling. The film’s narrative focuses on the election of a governor from Wisconsin and his relationship with the Koch Brothers.

CitizenFour – Praxis Films

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras travels to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden. This is the first time we hear his story and learn more about the motivations behind the deeds that dominated the headlines in the past two years.

Finding Vivian Maier – Ravine Pictures

Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs, earned a posthumous reputation as one the most accomplished street photographers – this is the story of that unlikely journey to fame.

The Internet’s Own Boy – Luminant Media

The Internet’s Own Boy tries to take a look at the life of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, the young brilliant mind who took his own life at the age of 26.

Jodorowsky’s Dune – City Film

The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

Keep On Keepin’ On – Absolute Clay Productions

Keep On Keepin’ On follows jazz legend Clark Terry over four years to document the mentorship between Terry and 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as the young man prepares to compete in an elite, international competition.

The Kill Team – f/8 filmworks

A documentary that unveils the moral tensions that tear at soldiers’ psyches through the lens of one highly personal story: Private Adam Winfield was a 21-year-old soldier in Afghanistan when he attempted with the help of his father to alert the military to heinous war crimes his platoon was committing. But Winfield’s pleas went unheeded.

Last Days in Vietnam – Moxie Firecracker Films

During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only–or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as they can.

Life Itself – Kartemquin Films and Film Rites

Life Itself explores the impact and legacy of Roger Ebert’s life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America.

The Overnighters – Mile End Films West

Broken, desperate men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local Pastor risks everything to help them.

The Salt of the Earth – Decia Films

For the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history; international conflicts, starvation and exodus. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of wild fauna and flora, and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project which is a tribute to the planet’s beauty.

Tales of the Grim Sleeper – Lafayette Film

Filmmaker Nick Broomfield investigates the case of the Grim Sleeper, a serial killer terrorizing South Central Los Angeles for 25 years.

Virunga – Grain Media

A group of brave individuals risk their lives to save the last of the world’s mountain gorillas; in the midst of renewed civil war and a scramble for Congo’s natural resources.

The actual nominations will be announced on 15 January 2015, with the Oscars ceremony taking place on 22 February.

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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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