Friday, August 25, 2023

'Retrograde' about the final 9 months of the U.S. in Afghanistan earned 6 nominations at the News & Doc Emmy Awards

"I'll see if I can resume my awards show coverage tomorrow or if it's easier to stick to reality. Stay tuned to find out." That was my recycled outro to PBS Terra asks 'Is Earth's Largest Heat Transfer Really Shutting Down?' As my readers can see, I'm returning to awards show nominees with the subject I suggested at the end of 'The Janes' about pre-Roe America is nominated in four categories at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards: "I should look at Retrograde, the most nominated documentary at these awards not also nominated for Best Documentary." Watch Retrograde | Official Trailer | National Geographic Documentary Films.

RETROGRADE captures the final nine months of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan from multiple perspectives: one of the last U.S. Special Forces units deployed there, a young Afghan general and his corps fighting to defend their homeland against all odds, and the civilians desperately attempting to flee as the country collapses and the Taliban take over. From rarely seen operational control rooms to the frontlines of battle to the chaotic Kabul airport during the final U.S. withdrawal, Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman’s latest film offers a cinematic and historic window onto the end of America’s longest war, and the costs endured for those most intimately involved. Rated R
Retrograde joins Escape from Kabul and In Her Hands as nominated documentaries about the final days of the U.S. operations in Afghanistan. It's the most nominated of the three, earning recognitions for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary, Outstanding Direction: Documentary, Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary, Outstanding Editing: Documentary, Outstanding Sound, and Outstanding Promotional Announcement. Yes, the trailer earned its own nomination and it looks like it earned it. That ties it with Good Night Oppy at these awards, although the latter has a nomination for Best Documentary here and a seventh for Outstanding Narrator at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards to break the tie. Follow over the jump for the trailers of the other nominees for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary plus the nominees in the other five categories in which Retrograde is competing.

Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary
11 Minutes
Endangered HBO Max
POV Let the Little Light Shine PBS
POV Wuhan Wuhan PBS
Retrograde National Geographic
The Trapped 13: How We Survived The Thai Cave Netflix
The other five nominees have only their nominations in this category, while Retrograde has six, as I've already mentioned. That's enough for me to call this category for Retrograde. Just the same, the other nominees deserve their time in the spotlight, so here are their trailers beginning with 1 Minutes | Official Trailer | Paramount+.

Through emotional first-hand accounts and never-before-seen archival footage, new Paramount+ Original Docuseries 11 MINUTES immerses viewers inside the largest mass shooting in our country's history. It is a story of humanity and survival at what was supposed to be a festival celebrating country music. This video contains strong language and violent content.
I took one look at the title and preview image and suspected this series was about the 2017 Las Vegas Massacre, coverage of which earned eight nominations and three awards at the 2018 News and Documentary Emmys. Nearly six years time hasn't made the incident any less horrific. By the way, the performer onstage at the time of the shooting, Jason Aldean, has gotten into the news lately, but that's the subject of another post.

The next nominee is Endangered | Official Trailer | HBO.

“As journalists, we can’t let the truth down.” #EndangeredHBO, from executive producer Ronan Farrow and directors Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing, tells the story of journalists at the forefront of a dangerous culture war over free speech.
This is also a documentary about a subject I've covered before in 1968 has arrived again with nation-wide protests and police attacks on press and Samantha Bee on Trump and the police attacking the press. I'm recycling my remarks from the former post as my reaction to this nominee.
This is the kind of thing I'd expect to see in a war zone or some authoritarian country with weak freedom of the press, not the U.S., at least not this widespread. The silver lining is that it will get the press focused on police brutality now that it is directed against them, not just the protestors and rioters. The bad news is that it could attract media attention away from the people who experience excessive force every day.
This documentary is certainly an example of the former. I'm leaving it as an exercise for my readers if this documentary is an example of the latter. Also, I think Endangered has the best chance of beating Retrograde. Remember, electorates matter and the electorate for these awards cares about this issue.

POV has two nominees in this category, the first of which is Let the Little Light Shine | Official Trailer | POV | PBS.

National Teachers Academy (NTA) is considered a beacon for Black children: a top-ranked, high-performing elementary school located in the fastest growing neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. As the neighborhood gentrifies, a wealthy parents’ group seeks to close NTA and replace it with a high school campus. How will NTA's students, parents, and educators fight to save their beloved institution? A co-production of POV and ITVS, in association with Black Public Media.
This looks like a more uplifting documentary than fellow POV nominee Accepted, which is competing against The Janes for Outstanding Social Issues Documentary.

The other POV nominee in this category is Wuhan Wuhan | Official Trailer | POV | PBS.

With unprecedented access in a period of pandemic lockdown, Wuhan Wuhan documents February and March 2020 in Wuhan where the coronavirus was first discovered. Going beyond the statistics and salacious headlines, frontline medical workers, patients, and ordinary citizens put a human face on the early days of the mysterious virus as they grapple with an invisible, deadly killer.
Again, this documentary covers familiar territory, the origin of the pandemic that was also the subject of 76 Days, whose Emmy nomination I blogged about and which won Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking at the 2021 Emmy Awards.

The final nominee in this category is The Trapped 13: How We Survived The Thai Cave | Official Trailer | Netflix.

In this compelling documentary, members of the Thai youth soccer team tell their stories of getting trapped in Tham Luang Cave in 2018 — and surviving.
The Rescue by the directors and producers of Free Solo covered this same story with a different emphasis, winning three News & Documentary Emmy Awards and three Critics Choice Documentary Awards in 2022 and 2021 respectively. I saw those nominations, but concentrated on Summer of Soul at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards and the Saturn Awards instead of the News & Documentary Awards last year. My excuse was that I vote in the Saturn Awards, not the Emmys. Thanks to the Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys being postponed until January 2024 and the Saturn Awards not being announced yet, I don't have that conflict over my priorities right now.

Moving on to a category I've mentioned in passing but never featured before Outstanding Editing: Documentary.
Outstanding Editing: Documentary*
In Her Hands
Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power Peacock
Master of Light HBO Max
Retrograde National Geographic
This category has an asterisk because Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain was removed from the News & Documentary Emmy nominees. Here's what I wrote about it in Two Emmy-nominated documentaries about Watergate for Veep Day.
Only one nominee in this category has nominations in other categories, In Her Hands, which also earned nominations for Outstanding Direction: Documentary and Outstanding Editing: Documentary. I think that makes it the favorite to win this category, but I don't think it will win its other categories. My preliminary prediction is that will lose both categories to Retrograde, the most nominated documentary at these awards that is not also nominated for Best Documentary.
My pick is still Retrograde, although I will have to watch Master of Light, the most nominated documentary without an outstanding documentary category nomination, before making my choice final.

Now to recycle my previous writings, beginning with R.I.P. Sinéad O'Connor, who died one day before 'Nothing Compares' earned two News & Documentary Emmy Awards nominations for the other categories.
Outstanding Direction: Documentary
In Her Hands Netflix
The Janes HBO Max
Master of Light HBO Max
Nothing Compares Showtime
Retrograde National Geographic
Wildcat Amazon Prime
My preliminary pick...[is] "Retrograde" for Outstanding Direction: Documentary.
My pick is still Retrograde but I will hold off on making it my final pick until I watch Master of Light.

Now to recycle from 'Super/Natural,' 'Wildcat,' and other nature nominees at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards for International Tiger Day.
Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary
Master of Light HBO Max
Nuisance Bear The New Yorker
Op-Docs Long Line of Ladies The New York Times
Retrograde National Geographic
Super/Natural National Geographic
Super/Natural is the leading nature documentary here, followed by Nuisance Bear, but Retrograde is tied with Good Night Oppy at these awards with six nominations, so it's my preliminary favorite to win this category.
Again, my pick is still Retrograde but I will hold off on making it my final pick until I watch Master of Light.
Outstanding Sound
A Trip to Infinity Netflix
Good Night Oppy Amazon Prime
Great Performances Now Hear This PBS
Nuisance Bear The New Yorker
Our Universe Netflix
Retrograde National Geographic
Super/Natural National Geographic
As I have written before, I think that music nominees have the best chances, all things being equal, so that gives the advantage to Great Performances.
I haven't changed my mind, yet.
Outstanding Promotional Announcement
Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story Captive Audience “Shocking” Trailer Hulu
NOVA Augmented PBS
Retrograde National Geographic
Shark Week “Seal Cam” / Shark Week 2022 Discovery Channel
Super/Natural National Geographic
Shark Week regularly earns nominations and usually wins this category, so I'm picking it now. Again, I reserve the right to change my mind, but I'm not sure I'll have to.
Shark Week didn't win last year. Instead 9/11: One Day in America won this category. Since the same people produced and directed Retrograde as 9/11: One Day in America, I now think it actually has a shot at winning.

After writing the above, my choices for the next post in this series will be about either Master of Light or Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story. Which would my readers prefer?

Previous posts about the 2023 News & Documentary Emmy Awards

No comments:

Post a Comment