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Netflix Swings Documentary ‘The Short Game’ into Originals Field with Eye on Oscar

Netflix next month will launch its first exclusive documentary — “The Short Game,” which follows eight competitive kid golfers — an award-winning film the company pointed out is “Academy qualified.”

The docu, from director Josh Greenbaum, premiered at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW), where it won the 2013 Audience Award. Netflix noted that the film is eligible for Oscar contention because of its limited theatrical release through Phase 4 Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films, which acquired North American rights this summer.

The pickup comes after Netflix on Monday officially announced that it had acquired worldwide streaming rights to docu “The Square,” about the political turmoil in Egypt — which also has Oscar potential.

The Short Game” is produced by Rafael Marmor, Christopher Leggett and Josh Greenbaum, and exec produced by Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Timm Oberwelland, John Battsek and David Frankel. The docu follows an octet of under-7 golfers around the globe as they train for and compete in the World Championship of Junior Golf in Pinehurst, N.C.

The documentary will debut on Netflix Thursday, Dec. 12 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific, available to stream in all territories where the service has launched including U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Latin America, the Nordics and the Netherlands.

“We seek to provide the very best storytelling within the documentary filmmaking category and ‘The Short Game’ is the rare example of a beautifully told and heartwarming tale which appeals to all generations,” Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of original documentary and comedy, said in a statement.

Greenbaum commented, “As a filmmaker, you hope your work will reach as many people as possible and that’s what’s so exciting about partnering with Netflix, who are presenting some of the most original and cutting-edge programming on the planet right now.”

Greenbaum’s other credits include “Behind the Mask,” docu he wrote, directed and exec produced about four sports mascots and the people who animate them, which debuted on Hulu last week.

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