Oscar sets its doc short list

Field is narrowed down from 81 docs to 15

Iraq clearly captured voters’ hearts in Oscar’s short list of docu contenders, as four of the 15 pics cited were devoted to the Middle East war: “My Country, My Country,” “Iraq in Fragments,” “The War Tapes” and “The Ground Truth.”

Movies on the list also include the highest-grossing doc of the year, the Al Gore jeremiad “An Inconvenient Truth,” as well several titles currently in commercial release, including “Deliver Us From Evil,” the evangelical-themed “Jesus Camp” and the Dixie Chicks’ political concert docu “Shut Up and Sing.”

ThinkFilm has picked up rights to one of the short-listed films, “The Trials of Darryl Hunt,” about a man wrongly imprisoned for rape and murder.

The list also includes including inspirational mountain-climbing pic “Blindsight”; the civic-minded “Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?,” “Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple,” “Sisters in Law,” “Storm of Emotions” and “An Unreasonable Man.”

Movies now advance in the voting and will be narrowed down to five when the Oscar noms are announced on Jan. 23.

The short list, voted on by a panel selected from the docu branch, passed over fare like “Wordplay,” “Air Guitar Nation,” “God Grew Tired of Us,” “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” “Who Killed the Electric Car?” “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” and “Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man.”

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