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"Oscar’s Docs" Resumes with Nature Documentaries


Beverly Hills, CA — The Oscar®-winning documentaries of 1951 and 1952 will screen on Monday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m., in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Linwood Dunn Theater as part of “Oscar’s Docs: The First Twenty Years of Academy Award®-Winning Documentaries.” The 12-week series showcases the first 40 short and feature-length documentaries honored by the Academy since the inception of the category in 1941.

Documentary Feature winners “Kon-Tiki” (1951) and “The Sea around Us” (1952) exemplified the shifting focus in the early 1950s of documentaries to the natural world. “Kon-Tiki” follows the 4,000-mile voyage of explorer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, in a homemade raft, from Peru to Polynesia. “The Sea around Us,” written, produced and directed by Irwin Allen, is an adaptation of environmentalist Rachel Carson’s book about the world’s oceans. Warner Bros. has donated 35mm prints of both films to the Academy, which will be screened.

Documentary Short Subject winners “Benjy” (1951) and “Neighbours” (1952) are among a group of films that not only competed, but won Academy Awards in what were clearly inappropriate categories. Both films have been included in the program because the series promises a complete run of documentary Oscar winners and because even though they were incorrectly categorized at the time they remain pertinent and effective pieces of filmmaking.

“Benjy,” directed by Fred Zinnemann and narrated by Henry Fonda, is the fictional tale of a crippled boy. The film was used as a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital. A 35mm print, on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, will be screened. Norman McLaren’s “Neighbours,” which today would compete in the Animated Short category, used “pixilation” – animation using living people - to create an allegory of war. A 16mm print from the Academy Film Archive will be screened.

The next installment of “Oscar’s Docs” will be on Monday, November 14 with “The Alaskan Eskimo” (1953), “The Living Desert” (1953), “Thursday’s Children” (1954) and “The Vanishing Prairie” (1954).

Tickets for individual screenings in “Oscar’s Docs: The First Twenty Years of Academy Award-Winning Documentaries” are available for $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with valid I.D. They may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, pending availability, the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater is located at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood. For more information call (310) 247-3000, ext. 111.

Editors: Please note that downloadable photos from these films are available at


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