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  • Truth, Justice, and Little Gold Men 02/24/12

    Two-time Oscar nominee Lucy Walker.
    Two-time Oscar nominee Lucy Walker.

    In case you didn't hear about it, The 84th Academy Awards will be held this Sunday. It didn't get a lot of press coverage, did it? Come that night, we'll have our fingers crossed for three of our Focus Forward family whose films received nominations for best feature and short subject documentary.

    Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is the third film in a landmark trilogy about a 1993 murder trial in West Memphis that saw three teens convicted on questionable evidence. The films have played an important role in keeping interest in the case high during a very long appeals process that culminated in the eventual release of the trio in 2011, one of them from Death Row. The trilogy and this nomination are a testament to the filmmakers’ dedication and to the power of truth to prevail against injustice. The film also received the 2011 Best Documentary Award from the National Board of Review, and a 2012 DGA Prize for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary.

    Lucy Walker was nominated last year for her feature doc, Waste Land that chronicled a transformative art project at Brazil’s largest garbage dump involving the people who subsist around it. This year, her 39-minute short (the Academy’s definition is 40 min. and under) The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom received a nomination as well as a Short Non-fiction Jury Prize at Sundance 2012. Already planning to shoot a piece about her favorite flower and a treasured national symbol of annual renewal in Japan, she forged ahead despite the devastation and chaos from the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, and dangerous radiation from the damaged nuclear reactor. In what has been described as a visual haiku, she captured the pain, the resilience, and the hope of an entire country in the face of disaster, bolstered by the appearance, as ever, of those beautiful but short-lived pink blossoms.

    Co-founder of Cinelan and the Focus Forward initiative, Karol Martesko-Fenster has been helping to bring the visions of filmmakers to wider audiences for decades. Karol was an early collaborator and champion of photojournalist Danfung Dennis on his first feature film project, Hell and Back Again, which follows the service of an American soldier in Afghanistan as well as his struggle to adjust to being back home after he’s wounded in battle. The film won a Grand Jury Prize as well a Cinematography Award at Sundance 2011.

    It's an incredible field of Oscar nominees this year, all of them deserving of accolades. But we're rooting for our peeps to bring home the gold!