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Summer of Soul, Ascension Top Critics Choice Documentary Award Nominations

The race is on!

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Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) and Ascension lead the 6th annual Critics Choice Documentary Award nominations. The films, directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Jessica Kingdon, respectively, scored six nominations each. The nominations in the early voting period for Critics Choice solidifies Summer of Soul’s frontrunner status in the Oscar doc race. The film premiered at Sundance to rave reviews for its archival look at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Summer of Soul won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance in the US documentary categories. It’s joined in the Critics Choice race by fellow Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Flee, which topped the World Cinema category in Park City. The animated Flee scored nominations for Best Documentary and Best Director.

Ascension, meanwhile, has been an under-the-radar festival hit after debuting at Tribeca where it won top doc. The film examines the pursuit of the Chinese dream and considers various socio-political lenses. Ascension was released in the USA earlier this month.

Following the lead areThe Rescue and Becoming Cousteauwith five nominations each. The docs are both repped by National Geographic, which is not pulling any punches with two very aggressive campaigns. Other docs scoring multiple nominations include Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curri’s Attica, Rachel Fleit’s Introducing Selma Blair, and Edgar Wright’s The Sparks Brothers. On the Canadian front, No Ordinary Man by Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt scored a nomination for Best Historical or Biographical Documentary for its portrait of transgender musician Billy Tipton. Winners will be announced on November 14.

 

The 2021 Critics Choice Documentary Award nominees are as follows:

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)

Attica (Showtime)

Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)

The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)

A Crime on the Bayou (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)

Flee (Neon/Participant)

Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)

The Lost Leonardo (Sony Pictures Classics)

My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)

Procession (Netflix)

The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin – The Rescue
Liz Garbus – Becoming Cousteau
Jessica Kingdon – Ascension
Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry – Attica
Jonas Poher Rasmussen – Flee
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Edgar Wright – The Sparks Brothers

 

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Jessica Beshir – Faya Dayi
Rachel Fleit – Introducing, Selma Blair
Todd Haynes – The Velvet Underground
Jessica Kingdon – Ascension
Kristine Stolakis – Pray Away
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Edgar Wright – The Sparks Brothers

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Jessica Beshir – Faya Dayi
Jonathan Griffith, Brett Lowell and Austin Siadak – The Alpinist
David Katznelson, Ian Seabrook and Picha Srisansanee – The Rescue
Jessica Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell – Ascension
Nelson Hume and Alan Jacobsen – The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52
Emiliano Villanueva – A Cop Movie
Pete West – Puff: Wonders of the Reef

 

BEST EDITING

Francisco Bello, Matthew Heineman, Gabriel Rhodes and David Zieff – The First Wave
Jeff Consiglio – LFG
Bob Eisenhardt – The Rescue
Affonso Gonçalves and Adam Kurnitz – The Velvet Underground
Jessica Kingdon – Ascension
Joshua L. Pearson – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Julian Quantrill – The Real Charlie Chaplin

 

BEST NARRATION

9/11: Inside the President’s War Room – Jeff Daniels, Narrator
Becoming Cousteau – Vincent Cassel, Narrator; Mark Monroe and Pax Wassermann, Writers
The Crime of the Century – Alex Gibney, Narrator & Writer
The Neutral Ground – CJ Hunt, Narrator & Writer
The Real Charlie Chaplin – Pearl Mackie, Narrator’ Oliver Kindeberg, Peter Middleton and James Spinney, Writers
Val – Jack Kilmer, Narrator; Val Kilmer, Writer
The Year Earth Changed – David Attenborough, Narrator


BEST SCORE

Jongnic Bontemps – My Name is Pauli Murray
Dan Deacon – Ascension
Alex Lasarenko and David Little – The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52
Cyrus Melchor – LFG
Daniel Pemberton – The Rescue
Rachel Portman – Julia
Dirac Sea – Final Account

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY

Becoming Cousteau
The Real Charlie Chaplin
The Real Right Stuff
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Val
The Velvet Underground


BEST HISTORICAL OR BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY

Attica
A Crime on the Bayou
Fauci
Final Account
Julia
My Name is Pauli Murray
No Ordinary Man
Val

 

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry
Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James
Listening to Kenny G
The Sparks Brothers
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Tina
The Velvet Underground

 

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY

The Crime of the Century
Enemies of the State
Four Hours at the Capitol
Influence
Mayor Pete
Missing in Brooks County
Nasrin
Not Going Quietly

 

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY

Becoming Cousteau
Fauci
The First Wave
The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52
Playing with Sharks
Puff: Wonders of the Reef
The Year Earth Changed

 

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY

The Alpinist
Changing the Game
The Day Sports Stood Still
Kevin Garnett: Anything is Possible
LFG
Tiger

 

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

Audible
Borat’s American Lockdown
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis
Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol
The Doll
The Last Cruise
The Queen of Basketball
Snowy

 

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS OF A DOCUMENTARY (HONOR)

Ady Barkan – Not Going Quietly
Selma Blair – Introducing, Selma Blair
Pete Buttigieg – Mayor Pete
Anthony Fauci – Fauci
Ben Fong-Torres – Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres
Val Kilmer – Val
Ron and Russell Mael – The Sparks Brothers
Rita Moreno – Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It
Valerie Taylor – Playing With Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story

 

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, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association.

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