Acclaimed Documentary Central Park Five Gets Snubbed by Oscars

Acclaimed Documentary Central Park Five Gets Snubbed by Oscars

Film about wrongly accused Black youth doesn't make short list.

Published December 11, 2012

(Photo:  Florentine Films)

Awards season in Hollywood is hardly known to be fair and balanced, but sometimes a snub is so egregious it can't be ignored. That's how many insiders are feeling about The Central Park Five, Ken Burns' seminal documentary about minority youths falsely accused of raping a jogger in New York's Central Park in the 1980s. 

The film, which has been celebrated by critics and even subpoenaed, didn't make the short list for consideration in the 2013 Academy Awards. Fifteen documentaries were selected for the shortlist, of which about one-third will receive nominations. 

“I’m truly baffled by this," writes Tambay Obenson of IndieWire.com's Shadow and Act blog. "I think The Central Park Five most certainly belongs and, I’d say, is even stronger than some of [the other qualifying films].” 

Complaining about a snubbing by the Academy may seem like cry-baby tactics, but the qualifying rules in the documentary category of the awards are among the most controversial in the industry, with many feeling that films tend to be disqualified for arbitrary reasons (one such rule: a film must be reviewed by either the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times to qualify, but if the critic is a television reviewer, it doesn't qualify.) Documentaries and foreign films, unlike mainstream box-office fare, rely heavily on awards buzz for viewers. 

Other notable documentaries left off the short list include Marley and West of Memphis. Final nominations for all categories in the Academy Awards will be announced on January 15.

Click here for our review of The Central Park Five and Marley.  

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Written by Evelyn Diaz


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