Oscar documentary race narrows

Tales of war, social conflict and environmental renewal lead the charge

by Jennie Kermode

Honeyland Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

The 15 film preliminary shortlist for Best Documentary at the 92nd Oscars was announced today. It includes two films focused on the crisis in Syria, The Cave and For Sama. The director of the former, Feras Fayyad, described it as a deeply personal film and said "I hope this film helps us all to look into the darkest corners of our souls and inspires us to search for the light," while the director of the latter, Waad al-Kateab, told us "I just wanted to do something to bring justice to the story that I had lived through."

Also nominated are several films concerned with the overlap of social and environmental issues, including Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov's Honeyland, which follows a beehunter's attempt to save a species.

Special screenings of the shortlisted films have been announced in 20 cities across the US, starting from Christmas Day.

The final five films shortlisted for the prize will be announced on Monday, January 13, 2020, and the winner chosen at the ceremony in Los Angeles on 9 February.

That shortlist in full:-

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Tied together by the moon Marco Bellocchio on the soundtrack, locations, nature and the moons in The Traitor

Precise construction Bertrand Bonello on Jacques Tourneur, George Romero and Zombi Child

Exploring human complexity Kôji Fukada on A Girl Missing, Alfred Hitchcock’s colour palette and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker

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