Jack Mathews’ article on the motion picture academy’s documentary committee was too kind (“ ‘The Thin Blue Line’: Justice for All?,” March 12). Everybody finds fault with one or another of the academy’s choices from time to time, but only in the documentary area are the choices so wrongheaded year after year.
The committee members don’t understand rock ‘n’ roll, so they make no distinction between run-of-the-mill “rockumentaries” and remarkable work like “Bring on the Night” and “Stop Making Sense,” both ignored.
Instead of nurturing the form they hold sway over, they exhibit a snobbery that guarantees that the vast Oscar-night audience will almost never have heard of any of the nominated documentaries. Any film with a theatrical release--such as “28 Up,” “Shoah” or the George Stevens bio--seems automatically denied a nomination.
And, finally, they make the mistake of confusing subject with quality. If a film maker is on the “correct” side of an important issue he can be nominated no matter how botched or bland his picture’s execution.
If the academy can’t find some members who can do a better job of judging documentaries, it would almost do the genre a favor to discontinue the award.
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