This was a question posed by us Indies on evening and even today I had to hunt on Google to remind myself. It is true. While I don’t know if Sean “Puff Daddy/Puffy/P. Diddy/Diddy” Combs is going for an EGOT ala Tracy Jordan from “30 Rock”, but it has got me thinking about the 2013 Oscars. Today’s celebrities have a real opportunity to use their fame for good. Combs served as executive producer for UNDEFEATED, directed by two unknown filmmakers who’d been following a “real-life Friday Night Lights” story for two years.
Now back in February, I was so in shock at how young the directors looked that I didn’t even connect that this type of partnership could be a gamechanger for documentaries, especially around awards season. I have been blown away by the caliber of nonfiction storytelling released so far this year. The question is: could history repeat itself?
THE HOUSE I LIVE IN has had the doc community abuzz since it won which won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance in January. I missed the film at the festival, so I decided to catch up by reading the recent writeups making their way across Twitter. With the power tagline “The war on drugs has never been about drugs”, critics praise the film for offering an honest perspective on the intersection between U.S. drug policy and our criminal justice system. It turns out Danny Glover, Russell Simmons and John Legend are all producers on the film, directed by Eugene Jarecki. Following Sundance, Brad Pitt joined as EP and has been speaking at screenings about significance of the film. The topic addressed is important and I happy to see a rise in celebrities putting their time in the limelight to good use. Who knows if a doc like UNDEFEATED would have caught the attention of the Academy if Diddy hadn’t joined the team? THE HOUSE I LIVE IN isn’t nearly as heartwarming as the triumphant story of a winning underdog football team. Since now every member of the documentary branch of the Academy is supposed to watch every single feature-length documentaries vying for a nomination (only 15 will be selected), every familiar name counts. THE HOUSE I LIVE IN is currently in limited release.