An eight-hour documentary covering one of the most publicized American trials ever and 40-minute doc filmed in war-ravaged Syria each took home hardware at Sunday evening’s 89th Academy Awards.
Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America took home the Best Documentary Feature prize at the ceremony, which was held Feb. 26 in Los Angeles.
The Laylow Films and ESPN Films-made production covers the 1995 O.J. Simpson criminal trial for the murders of Simpson’s estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. During its nearly eight-hour run time, the docuseries weaves the themes of race, domestic violence, celebrity culture, police brutality and the racial history of Los Angeles through the Simpson story.
Edelman dedicated the award to Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman.
“This is for them and their families,” he said in his acceptance speech. “It is also for others — the victims of police violence, police brutality, racially motivated violence and criminal injustice. This is their story, as well as Ron and Nicole’s. I’m honored to accept this award on all of their behalves.”
Realscreen spoke with Edelman last April, ahead of the film’s festival run at Hot Docs in Toronto.
“I was not interested in having [the] conversation about his guilt or innocence, retrying the case or re-investigating the murder,” Edelman said at the time. “I was interested in going backwards 40 years and discussing the environment of the city.”
Made in America will air in five parts for five straight nights starting tonight on ESPN2. Additionally, it will air with limited interruption on Saturday, March 4.
In terms of other nominees and their director/producer teams, OJ: Made in America beat out Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi/Stemal Entertainment), Life, Animated (Roger Ross Williams/Motto Pictures and A&E IndieFilms), 13th (Ava DuVernay/ Forward Movement) and I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck/Velvet Film).
Orlando von Einsiedel’s The White Helmets was named Best Documentary Short Subject.
The Netflix doc spotlights the life-saving efforts of a volunteer rescue force working in war-torn Aleppo and Turkey.
Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets, was planning on attending the ceremony, but according to a statement, intense air strikes across the country led him to instead focus on his work in Syria.
Khaled Khatib, a White Helmets volunteer and cameraman on the film, was also due to attend. After weeks of uncertainty following U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Khatib and Saleh were both able to obtain visas to travel to the U.S. for the awards show. However, Khatib was reportedly denied entry after his passport was rejected.
Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara accepted the award, and read a statement provided by Saleh.
“Our organization is guided by a verse from the Koran: ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity,” read von Einsiedel on Saleh’s behalf. “We have saved more than 82,000 civilian lives. I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life, to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world,”
Von Einsidel went on to ask the audience to stand up as a reminder that they care, leading the crowd of A-listers to their feet.
Khatib, meanwhile, sent his thanks on Twitter.
The world stands with the white helmets. – Standing ovation at the Oscars. We have won. Thank you all for your support.#Oscars