The Best Feature Documentary category at the Oscars seems like it is going to be diverse this year based on the shortlist that was released. According to Deadline, a number of films made by international filmmakers and spoken in foreign languages are being considered for the award. These include films like To Kill a Tiger, which is made by a Canadian filmmaker and uses Hindi as its primary language, 20 Days in Mariupol, which is directed by a Ukranian filmmaker and journalist, and Apolonia, Apolonia, which is directed by a filmmaker from Denmark, among others. Part of what is so significant about these international documentaries being featured in this category is that many of them were not released widely in the United States.
But it seems like this segment of the Academy’s voters is more diverse than the rest, Deadline stated, “Neither subtitles nor remote settings deter today’s documentary branch, whose membership is far less insular than it used to be. Beginning around 2017, the branch added hundreds of filmmakers, many from abroad, under an initiative spearheaded by Roger Ross Williams, then on the Academy’s board of governors representing the nonfiction wing. “We invited an unprecedented number of international members,” Williams recalls. “And now we’re the most international branch of the Academy.”
This category expanding into international waters may mean that the Academy as a whole could be becoming more diverse. As an audience member, I would hope that more foreign films are allowed to be represented at the Oscars ceremony. One film that will almost definitely not be snubbed at this year’s awards is Anatomy of a Fall, a French-made film that was nominated at the Golden Globes and took home Best Motion Picture – Non-English Language and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture.
Despite the international presence in the documentary category, the front runners are still two American-made films, American Symphony and Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.