The nominations for the 94th Academy Awards have been released and two incredible documentaries made by Black filmmakers were recognized.
Showtime’s Attica and Disney’s Onyx Collective/Hulu’s Summer of Soul were nominated Tuesday morning in the Best Documentary Feature category.
The team behind 'Attica' on Oscar nomination
Attica, directed by Stanley Nelson Jr. and Traci A. Curry, tells the story of the cause and effects of one of the largest and deadliest prison riots to take place in the United States, resulting in the deaths of 29 inmates and 10 hostages at the Attica prison in New York. The documentary takes a raw look at the criminal justice system and the systematic racism that lead to the events at Attica prison and how the problems that created the riot still persist to this day, calling for reform of a system that continues to destroy lives.
Nelson said of the nomination, “Thank you to the Academy and congratulations to my fellow nominees for Best Documentary Feature. I am so thrilled that ATTICA, a film I’ve been wanting to make for decades, has received this level of recognition and I am very thankful to the wonderful team at SHOWTIME for believing in the power of this story. “It’s an immense honor to be nominated along with my fantastic collaborator Traci A. Curry. Together we strived to create a balanced and accurate account of this tragic moment in history. The story of the Attica uprising continues to resonate 50 years later in discussions around impactful prison and criminal justice reform. We are so grateful that the people who lived through these events were willing to open up to us in the way that they did and I hope we have done justice to their stories.”
Vinnie Malhotra, Executive Vice President of Nonfiction Programming for Showtime added, “We couldn’t be more thrilled for Stanley to get his long overdue first Academy Awards nomination. This incredible honor for him is an appropriate addition to an already wonderful legacy he’s left on the world of documentary. That it coincides with the first Oscar nomination for SHOWTIME Documentary Films is only further cause for celebration.”
The documentary was produced by Showtime Documentary Films and is available to stream on Showtime and Hulu.
'Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),' which explores the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival held at Mount Morris Park in the summer of 1969.
The documentary looks at the historic festival that included performers like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Sly and the Family Stone among others. In what would on the surface to the black community be an enormous event the festival was seen as obscure in the mainstream pop culture of America, and the documentary explores why and the festival’s influence and importance.
It was by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots.
“It is a huge honor to receive this nomination,” said Questlove in a statement. “The Harlem Cultural Festival was both a testament to Black genius and Black joy at a formative time in our country’s history, and a cautionary tale about the way that history, especially Black history, can be erased. Being entrusted with the responsibility of keeping that past visible has been one of the great honors of my life. I am beyond gratified to be nominated alongside these four other incredible filmmakers. Congratulations to the entire filmmaking team and everyone at Searchlight, Onyx, and Hulu.”
“It is incredibly gratifying for Summer of Soul and The Harlem Cultural Festival to not only be known, but to be recognized and celebrated,” said Onyx Collective president Tara Duncan. “For Onyx Collective, this is the film that we wanted to define our brand. We’re overjoyed and humbled that our mission to curate culturally specific stories has already brought so much joy and pride to audiences around the world.”
Summer of Soul was produced by the Onyx Collective and Searchlight and is available to stream on Hulu.
Attica was produced by Showtime Documentary Films and is available to stream on Showtime and Hulu.
Good luck to Summer of Soul and Attica at the 94th Academy Awards!