One hundred seventy features have been submitted for consideration in the Documentary Feature category for the 90th Academy Awards®, including five Irish entries: Elian, The Farthest, No Stone Unturned, Rocky Ros Muc, and School Life (formerly In Loco Parentis).
Elián is the remarkable story of Elián Gonzalez, a five-year-old Cuban boy plucked from the Florida Straits, and how the fight for his future changed the course of U.S.-Cuba relations. Featuring powerful personal testimony, candid interviews, and an extraordinary news archive, this riveting documentary recounts Elián’s remarkable rescue on Thanksgiving Day in November 1999, after his mother and 10 others fleeing Cuba perished at sea. The custody battle between the boy’s Cuban father and his Miami-based relatives, and the momentous political fight that came to surround it, changed the course of history.
Elián is co-directed by US journalist Tim Golden and Dublin filmmaker Ross McDonnell, and executive produced by Academy Award®-winner Alex Gibney. Trevor Birney (Bobby Sands: 66 Days) produced the film through his Fine Point Films banner. Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide is an executive producer for Elián . Courtney Sexton, vice president for CNN Films, is supervising producer. It is financed by CNN Films, Northern Ireland Screen, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board, and BBC Storyville.
An entirely Irish production, The Farthest includes interviews with 30 of the original scientists and engineers who built and flew the ground-breaking Voyager mission, never-seen-before archive footage from inside NASA along with spectacular CGI, designed and created by Irish talent. The film not only celebrates these magnificent machines, the people who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could have ever hoped but it also explores what it is to be human and the mysteries that define our existence.
The Farthest is directed by Emer Reynolds and produced by John Murray and Clare Stronge for Crossing the Line Films in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, RTÉ, BBC, ZDF, Arte, PBS. Developed with the support of the Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA of the European Union and produced with the support of Section 481.
On 18 June 1994 in the small village of Loughinisland, County Down, three gunmen burst into a pub with assault rifles and fired on the customers, killing six civilians and wounding five. The pub was crowded with people watching the Republic of Ireland team playing in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. No one has ever spent a day in prison for this, one of the more awful crimes of the Irish “Troubles.” In the film, Gibney ignites a fire under this cold case that has frustrated the victims’ families for more than 20 years. Through interviews with victims’ families, former terrorists, officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and other government officials as well as piecing together official documents and previously uncharted leaks of information, Gibney explores the incongruities of the case and connects the dots between mass murder and official malfeasance, between memory and sanctioned amnesia.
No Stone Unturned was written and directed by Alex Gibney and produced by Trevor Birney for Fine Point Films in association with Jigsaw Productions, Kew Media Group and Northern Ireland Screen.
Rocky Ros Muc charts boxer Sean Mannion’s rise from humble beginnings to challenging for a world title crown. From the quiet Gaeltacht village of Ros Muc, Galway, to the criminal underworld of James “Whitey” Bulger and the mean streets of Boston, Rocky Ros Muc examines spirit inside the ring and troubles outside; the reality of emigration and its impact on identity.
The film is directed by Michael Fanning and produced by Máire Bhreathnach and Executive Produced by Trevor Birney. Rónán Mac Con Iomaire was Associate Producer on the film with Mairéad Ní Thréinir as Assistant Producer. The film was edited by Michael Paisley with an original score composed by Andrew Simon McAllister. Rocky Ros Muc is a Below The Radar production made with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund, TG4, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and MG Alba.
School Life tells the story of Headfort, the last remaining boarding school for primary age children in Ireland. Directed by Neasa Ní Chianáin with co-direction for David Rane and set on a sprawling estate in Kells, Co. Meath, the documentary melds two seemingly incongruent worlds as the ultra-modern teaching of Headfort’s brilliant staff is set against the 18th century backdrop of the school’s grand reception rooms, long corridors and secret doors. The idyllic surroundings provide a space where teachers become mentors and surrogate parents as they usher the young pupils through their last days of childhood. School Life is produced by Soilsíu and financed by the Irish Film Board, the Broadcast Authority of Ireland, RTÉ, TVE, and Creative Europe.
Several of the films have not yet had their required Los Angeles and New York qualifying releases. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules in order to advance in the voting process. A shortlist of 15 films will be announced in December.
Films submitted in the Documentary Feature category may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.
Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
The 90th Oscars® will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.