Ranjit's daughter in a field in To Kill a Tiger | Notice Pictures/ NFB

Canadian Doc To Kill a Tiger Among Oscar Nominees for Documentary

Doc branch favours political docs with global scope

9 mins read

To Kill a Tiger is among the five nominees for Best Documentary Feature. The film directed by Nisha Pahuja and produced by Pahuja, Cornelia Principe, and David Oppenheim landed a nomination during this morning’s announcement. To Kill a Tiger is a co-production between Notice Pictures and the National Film Board of Canada. The nomination represents a welcome return to the feature doc category for the NFB. To Kill a Tiger tells the story of one family’s fight for justice in their small Indian village after their daughter survives a violent rape and vows to hold her assailants to account. The film swept the Canadian circuit last year with a win at the Toronto International Film Festival and three Canadian Screen Award wins. To Kill a Tiger is streaming for free at NFB.ca.

“I am beyond thrilled that To Kill a Tiger has been nominated for an Academy Award,” said Pahuja in a statement from the NFB. “This is an extraordinary honour for the creative team behind this eight-year journey, and it’s a testament to the tireless group of women working outside the normal ecosystem to ensure this story is seen and does what it needs to in the world. We’re here, at this moment, because a farmer in India, his wife and their 13-year-old daughter had the courage to demand her human rights. We are grateful to the National Film Board of Canada, our executive producers and everyone on the team for their support. It is our hope and intent that this film will encourage other survivors to seek justice, and that men stand with us in our fight for gender equality.”

“Congratulations to Nisha Pahuja and her entire production team on a powerful film that follows the unprecedented journey of Ranjit and his courageous daughter as they fight for justice,” added Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson Suzanne Guèvremon. “Today’s nomination is a tribute to them as well as to Nisha’s dedication and vision as a talented filmmaker. As co-producer, the National Film Board of Canada is proud to have helped bring this moving work of non-fiction storytelling to the screen, and to share it with audiences across Canada and around the world.”

The nomination for To Kill a Tiger also reflects a decisive statement by Oscar voters in the documentary branch. This year, the doc branch got political and went international. Joining To Kill a Tiger among the nominees are Chile’s The Eternal Memory, Tunisia’s Four Daughters, Ukraine’s 20 Days in Mariupol, and the UK/USA/Uganda co-production Bobi Wine: The People’s President.

“Bobi and Barbie have been under house arrest as recently as this week, making this nomination a timely reminder of the continued fight for democracy, around the world,” said Bobi Wine: The People’s President nominees Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo in a statement. “This film and this nomination has the power to influence the future of Uganda and its 44 million people living under the current regime. Thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support our film.”

“It is such a humbling moment to see the story of the Ugandan people’s strength and resilience make it to a platform we never dreamed of — the global stage of the Academy Awards!” added Ugandan politician/activist Bobi Wine in a joint statement with his wife, Barbie Kyagulanyi. “Today the fight for democracy in Uganda and around the world lives on.”

Meanwhile, nominee Chernov added, “It is an incredible privilege to see 20 Days in Mariupol recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. Thank you for this nomination, and congratulations to all the other nominees. It gives me hope that the story of Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities, that are getting attacked every day, will remain in people’s hearts.” 20 Days in Mariupol is available to stream on YouTube.

Maite Alberdi, a second time nominee following her 2020 film The Mole Agent, said the following of her nomination for The Eternal Memory while thanking the team at MTV Documentary Films and saluting her Latin American colleagues: “Augusto Góngora, the protagonist of The Eternal Memory was also a documentary filmmaker, and he gave me a great lesson about motivations. During Pinochet’s dictatorship he made clandestine newscasts, documenting the pain and fragility of a country. When I invited him to participate in my film he said: “Many people opened the doors of their homes to me to show their fragility, so, why wouldn’t I show my own in mine? A film must always exist in spite of everything. In this story we learn there is an emotional, personal and collective memory that is permanent.  This is where love resides and sustains us all our lives – this is The Eternal Memory.”

Presumed frontrunners from the streamers, including Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie and American Symphony missed the cut, making a clear vote against celebrity docs, although the latter landed subject Jon Batiste a nomination for Best Original Song for “It Never Went Away,” which marked the lone nomination for docs outside the documentary categories. Despite a strong showing on the Oscar shortlist, no documentaries are among the nominees for Best International Feature.

On the short doc front, Halifax native Ben Proudfoot is going back to the Oscars with frequent collaborator Kris Bowers for The Last Repair Shop. Proudfoot previously won for The Queen of Basketball. They’ll face off against doc veteran Sheila Nevins, who landed her first nomination for The ABCs of Book Banning despite having a hand in many films that went the distance. Nevins is also an executive producer of nominee The Eternal Memory. Rounding out the short doc category are The Barber of Little Rock, The Island in Between, and Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó.

Overall, Oppeneheimer led the full slate of nominations with 13 citations. Winners will be announced on March 10.


The documentary Oscar nominees are as follows:


Documentary Feature

Bobi Wine: The People’s President – Moses Bwayo, Christopher Sharp and John Battsek
The Eternal Memory
nominees to be determined
Four Daughters
Kaouther Ben Hania and Nadim Cheikhrouha
To Kill a Tiger
Nisha Pahuja, Cornelia Principe and David Oppenheim
20 Days in Mariupol
Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner and Raney Aronson-Rath


Documentary Short Film

The ABCs of Book Banning – Sheila Nevins and Trish Adlesic
The Barber of Little Rock –
John Hoffman and Christine Turner
The Island in Between –
S. Leo Chiang and Jean Tsien
The Last Repair Shop –
Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó-
Sean Wang and Sam Davis


*This post has been updated to include additional nominee statements.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

Previous Story

How Desire Lines Imagines Trans Lives and Loves Anew

Next Story

Gaucho Gaucho Review: Nostalgia for a Fading Way of Life

Latest from Blog

0 $0.00