Stream the amazing 2024 Oscar documentary nominees

The past few years have been boom times for two different documentary formats found on streamers everywhere. The former is more like reality TV than anything else, often about a salacious crime or a recent gossip story, with a separation between interviews with primary sources and experts and archival footage. The second of these genres – the celebrity documentary – is the glossier of the two. It’s usually well photographed and offers a layer of intimacy with the subject… giving the camera meaningful access to their lives, but more often than not executive producing the project or having some sort of silent right of approval.

This year’s list of nominees for best documentary film consists of an outright rejection of mass appeal. Taken together, they mark a return to a pre-streaming era of films about people you don’t know yet (and a Ugandan pop star turned politician). And while these nominations haven’t come without controversy, with some in the industry claiming they’re a resentful response to a certain kind of success, they’re exactly the films we need right now, each one redefining the art of telling non-fiction stories. forward in different ways. They are all available to stream and are worth your time.

Sometimes a documentary is so inventive that it reminds you how extensive this form can be. I have thought about it Four daughters a lot since I first saw it in December (at a lone 10:30 screening at the only theater in New York showing it).

Without giving too much away, Four daughters is in a canon with films like The act of murder And Under the sun, both of which embrace the artifice of film as a medium for storytelling and turn it on its head. If documentary is a genre that sits somewhere on the spectrum between journalism and entertainment, then in each of these masterpieces we find the tension between performance and reality.

Go in Four daughters as blindly as possible if you want to feel the full weight of its impact in real time. It follows a Tunisian family – Olfa and her daughters, Eya and Tayssir – and asks them to relive the worst moment of their lives, casting actors to share the screen (and the burden). They will play many different roles: friend, therapist, journalist, shadow. They ask questions. They try to understand it. They’re trying to help us understand. They try to help Olfa, Eya and Tayssir understand and process their own stories. The seven of them become a closed circuit and sometimes the boundaries between them blur: they turn the past into a performance, and in fleeting moments a broken family almost seems whole.

If Four daughters comes to the truth through performance, Bobi wine, is instead a deep journalistic project that tells the story of the struggle of a pop star turned activist for democracy in Uganda. Bobi wine meets the eponymous character at the start of his political career and follows him on his journey to depose President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986. It’s a difficult film to watch: Wine and his supporters suffer enormous violence at the hands of an autocratic government. They are repeatedly arrested, beaten, tortured and sometimes killed. Co-director Moses Bwayo himself was shot at close range during filming. And yet Wine, his family and Bwayo’s camera remain undaunted.

At a time when democracy and press freedom are facing threats around the world, Bobi wine is as much a film about the rest of us as it is a film about Uganda. As I watched, I thought about movies like Navalny, which chronicles Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s struggle against Putin (winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary last year, and recently resonating after his death), and A thousand cuts, about former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on the media. Wine’s fight may seem hopeless, but hope is ultimately what drives him, and this film, forward.

Produced by Associated Press and Frontline, 20 days in Mariupol tells the story of the Russian invasion through the camera of Ukrainian journalist and filmmaker Mstyslav Chernov and his AP colleague Evgeniy Maloletka, the only international journalists left in Mariupol as the conflict begins. Chernov conducts on-the-fly interviews with citizens as they watch Russian tanks roll into their city and turn their lives upside down – some embrace Chernov as their last remaining link to the wider world, while others are skeptical and distrustful, almost accusatory. Although formally the least inventive of the category, Chernov’s rich and introspective narrative sets the stage for a film that could easily have been a compendium of disturbing news footage. And make no mistake: the fact that 20 days in Mariupol exists at all is remarkable. It tells a story that autocratic forces do not want to be told – a graphic document that depicts the reality of war and Russian oppression as it is. Dead adults, dead children, dead babies. Bombed houses and hospitals. Chernov himself puts it best, somewhat cynically, when he talks about the war he experienced in Ukraine and elsewhere: “We keep filming, but everything remains the same. Even worse.”

a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white”>To kill a tiger

To kill a tiger tells the story of 13-year-old Kiran (not her real name) and her parents as they fight for justice after surviving a violent attack. It’s a portrait of resilience, and in that sense it reminded me a bit of it Bobi wine. While Bobi Wine uses his platform as a musician to enter politics and effect change at the national level, To kill a tiger is a struggle for national change that starts with the community. Like Wine, farmer Ranjit is willing to sacrifice everything for what he holds dear, and he is guided by the belief that change at the local level can help slowly change the minds and hearts of his fellow villagers. Even when his condition seems desperate, Ranjit clings to the hope that a victory for his daughter can be a victory for other women and girls, and with this decision he can move forward.

I found it extremely difficult to find a place (streaming or in theaters) to see this movie, and I was – honestly – a little confused. Now, after seeing the film at a packed screening on a Friday in February at 7 p.m., I understand why: In a live Q&A session, director Nisha Pahuja explained that she doesn’t want the film’s participants or their stories use to sell tickets or promote. the project (and indeed, the film itself begins by asking viewers not to post identifiable photos of Kiran). We live in a time where you can watch pretty much anything at pretty much any time, there’s something pretty radical about that approach. To kill a tiger is a film with a mission and asks viewers to take on the responsibility of being thoughtful members of the world.

The film was recently acquired by Netflix and will be streaming this weekend, just in time for the Oscars. We will see if Pahuja’s requests to maintain Kiran’s privacy will be honored now that the document will be released on the world’s largest streaming service.

a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white”>The eternal memory

Chilean journalist Augusto Góngora and his partner, Paulina Urrutia (Pauli), navigate his Alzheimer’s together. Góngora made his name by defeating the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, and the film cuts between the past and the present, interspersed with home movies and footage from his decades-long career. There is a strange poetry in watching a man who has spent his life preserving Chile’s national memory lose his. If this were fiction, it would be too intrusive.

The eternal memory is interesting to consider alongside the shortlist American Symphony: musician Jon Batiste composes an orchestral piece while his wife (author and writer Suleika Jaouad) undergoes cancer treatment. Both films are love stories that let the viewer into the private world of a couple as they attempt to balance illness with creative practice. In The eternal memory, Pauli is a working actor who juggles her caring responsibilities by taking Augusto to rehearsal. In the hands of different people, Augusto’s Alzheimer’s could make for a much darker film, and it does The eternal memory does not shy away from the weight of his illness, it is a film still full of joy and light, in which Augusto and Pauli dance, sing and make their way through the difficult things.

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