Written by: FFT Webmaster | February 27th, 2012
THE INTERRUPTERS by Chicago-based documentarian Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) won the Best Documentary prize at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards. The film, which has been touted as one of the best documentaries of the year, shamefully did not even make the final cut for the Oscars, which is yet another potent example of the faulty selection process employed by the Academy in its specialty competition sections. An alarmingly small number of Academy members can nominate films in the Best Documentary category in the first place, and the number of members who actually vote on the final prize is only a small percentage of eligible voters (since most members have not seen all five nominated films). THE INTERRUPTERS tells the powerful story of reformed gang members who become community activists seeking to end street violence and gang recruitment on the mean streets of urban Chicago. The other four documentaries in the running at the Independent Spirit Awards were also celebrated at film festivals and by film critics, and also share the distinction of NOT being on the Oscar short list in the same category. They included WE WERE HERE, THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED, BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK, and AN AFRICAN ELECTION. Somehow, there is a disconnect in the intimate world of documentary film over which films are truly the best of the year (always a matter of personal opinion, I guess). The fact that there was no overlap between the two Best Documentary categories is quite intriguing and should expand the dialogue over how films are nominated in the first place.