Sunday, November 29, 2020

'Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution' at the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards

At the end of 'My Octopus Teacher' wins Best Science/Nature Documentary and Best Cinematography at the 2020 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, I wished my readers happy Thanksgiving and told them to stay tuned, as "I'm taking a break from the Critics' Choice Awards for American Thanksgiving at least. I might return with one more winner after that, 'Crip Camp.'" It's Sunday, time for the regular weekly entertainment feature, so I'm fulfilling my promise to examine the last of the documentary winners from the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.*

The Critics Choice Association listed the nominees and honors for "Crip Camp."
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, Gunda, and Mr. SOUL! lead this year’s nominations with five each.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham for Best Director, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biography Documentary. The film also received an honor for Judith Heumann for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.
I had high hopes for "Crip Camp," as I wrote in a comment on John Michael Greer's Dreamwidth that "'Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution' is my personal favorite among Best Documentary Feature nominees..." It ended up winning no awards beyond Judith Heumann for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary, which I found a bit disappointing. It could be worse; "Gunda" ended up with nothing at all. At least "Mr. SOUL!" won Best First Documentary Feature, so it didn't go away empty handed.

To see the trailer for "Crip Camp" along with more clips from the movie and an interview with the directors, watch the Factual America episode Crip Camp: Cradle of the Disability Rights Movement from Alamo Pictures.

Crip Camp was a unique summer camp for disabled teens that had an incredible impact on their lives.
In the 1970s Camp Jened was not just any old summer camp in the Catskills. Hippy values, the Grateful Dead, and pot-smoking shaped this utopia for teens with disabilities. Before long, a generation of a summer camp for kids with disabilities became a social movement that soon changed the world. We welcome Jim Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, co-directors of the Netflix documentary Crip Camp, to the podcast. Jim and Nicole share their experiences making a documentary about one of the most compelling, previously untold stories of our time. In the process, we find out what it is like to work with executive producers Barack and Michelle Obama. Jim and Nicole also discuss the next items on the agenda in terms of disability rights.

“I had no mental model for imagining disability communities, and I didn’t have any mental model for thinking about wild, horny teenagers listening to Bob Dylan at a summer camp. It was just joyous.” - Nicole Newnham
This is a very political movie because it's about activists, so I'm surprised it wasn't nominated for Best Political Documentary, won by "Boys State." I plan on remedying that in my own way by shortlisting it for this year's Golden Coffee Cups for movies based on its nominations here. As for future nominations, I'm sure it will get them at the Cinema Eye Honors, various craft awards, the Independent Lens Awards, and the Emmy Awards, whether Creative Arts or News and Documentary. I'm not sure about it getting one of the five nominations for Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards for the reasons I mentioned in the comment at Greer's Dreamwidth regarding "Feels Good Man."
I would be very pleasantly surprised if it earns one of the five nominations for Documentary Feature at the Oscars. That will depend very much on the mood of the Documentary Branch of the Motion Picture Academy. They deliberately do not nominate documentaries that will earn votes from the entire academy as a whole that they don't agree is the very best. They also don't like documentaries made with archive footage. They also have political axes to grind.
"Crip Camp" might fall in the first category and definitely falls under the second. The third might work for or against it. After all, Barack and Michelle Obama produced it and their production company winning another Oscar in addition to the one for "American Factory" would send a message. I don't know if that would run afoul of another issue with the Motion Picture Academy's Documentary Branch: "The Documentary Branch normally does not [nominate] films by previous winners." So long as that applies to directors, not producers, it shouldn't stand in the way of "Crip Camp" earning a nomination. Neither Lebrecht nor Newnham have even been nominated for an Oscar, although Newnham has earned a News and Documentary Emmy Award for "Collisions." I wish them both good luck with this film.

They will need it to overcome the popular sentiment behind "My Octopus Teacher," should it be nominated. My entry about it went viral through other people sharing it on Facebook. Right now, it has 93 Facebook shares and 552 default and 557 raw page views. In addition, all the comments I've seen and received about "My Octopus Teacher" have been overwhelmingly positive in a way I almost never see. If both of those accurately reflect how the general public feel about the movie, then I think it will be a strong contender if it's nominated for an Oscar. Whether it will is another matter. As I indicated above, the Documentary Branch has issues!

That's it for the Sunday entertainment feature. Stay tuned for the final entry of the month. Should I follow tradition, it will be about Cyber Monday.

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