Deadline’s Contenders Film: Documentary awards-season event, our virtual showcase of the year’s leading nonfiction, gets underway Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. PT. This year’s lineup of 25 movies reflects the growing availability of documentary content across a variety of platforms: Showtime and HBO, streamers HBO Max, Netflix, Discovery+, Hulu, Amazon Studios, and Apple TV+, as well as theatrical distributors Neon, Focus Features, Searchlight Pictures and Sony Pictures Classics.
If Sunday’s Contenders event came with a soundtrack, it would be a chart topper for the ages. Four of the four films on our panel today are accompanied by a music track. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)The Harlem Cultural Festival 1969, which welcomed amazing artists from Mahalia Jackson to Sly and the Family Stone and The Fifth Dimension, has been rediscovered.
Ron and Russell Mael were siblings who created the rock-pop duo Sparks back in 1966. The Sparks BrothersWhile Todd Haynes, an Oscar-nominated director of scripted films is now a documentarian, The Velvet UndergroundHis innovative study of Lou Reed’s avant-garde rock band was a great example of his creativity.
Billie Eilish is a multiple Grammy winner and shares her meteoric rise to stardom. Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry.
The country’s long history of racial injustice underpins a number of Contenders titles, from Who We Are: A Chronicle on Racism in AmericaTo My Name Is Pauli Murray“, directed by Oscar-nominated Betsy West and Julie Cohen. Arthur Ashe, who was a victim of racism and fought for civil liberties off the court, animated this film. Citizen Ashe.
AtticaIn the meantime, we explore the racial dimensions to one of the most bloody prison uprisings American history: in 1971, when predominantly Black and brown prisoners overtook the named correctional facility in upstate New York. The state-dominated white power structure eventually retaliated with indiscriminate firearm fire.
Oakland High School Students who are using their voice to demand social change star in Homeroom. In CuspThree young women in Texas, small-town Texas, navigate toxic masculinity. Gender inequality is the backdrop LFG, a film about the legal fight by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to achieve equal pay with their male counterparts.
Hollywood figures occupy the frame in several Contenders features, including one of the industry’s foundational geniuses in Charlie Chaplin, The Real Charlie. Among Chaplin’s successors in the business, actor Val Kilmer shares his artistic and spiritual quest, as well as his recovery from throat cancer, in the revealing Val. Selma Blair, an actress diagnosed with MS three-years ago, shares intimate details about her life through the moving, surprisingly funny, and joyful videos Introducing, Selma Blair.
The lineup alternates between stories of the famous—cookbook author and TV personality Julia Child, chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, marine explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, Pope Francis—and the little known: the nuns of Rebel HeartsThe courageous men of the 1960s who defied Catholic Church orthodoxy. ProcessionThey are seeking a therapeutic approach to sexual abuse suffered as children by Catholic clergy.
The stories of Middle East refugees from war are often kept anonymous.Simple as waterAnd in Flee, which uses animation to document a gay Afghan man’s arduous path to resettlement in Denmark.
It’s a boom time for docs, with so many outstanding films to consider this Oscar season, Contenders Film: Documentary is your essential guide to an incredible slate. Check out today’s schedule and panel lineup below, and follow the coverage on Deadline and our Twitter,FacebookandInstagramchannels using the hashtag #DeadlineContenders.
Schedule for Contenders Film: Documentary 2021
(All times PT).
9 a.m. – Livestream begins
9:04-9:16 a.m. – The Real Charlie Chaplin
Peter Middleton (Director).
James Spinney (Director)
9:16-9:26 a.m. – Attica
Stanley Nelson (Director/Producer).
Traci A. Curry (Producer)
9:26-9:36 a.m. – Cusp
Parker Hill (Director/Cinematographer/Editor)
Isable Bethancourt (Director/Cinematographer)
9:36-9:47 a.m. – Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street
Marilyn Agrelo (Director)
Ellen Scherer Crafts (Producer)
Trevor Crafts (Producer).
9:47-9:57 a.m. – Simple As Water
Megan Mylan (Director)
Robin Hessman (Producer).
Hazem Obid (Co-Producer)
9:57-10:07 a.m. – In the Same Breath
Nanfu Wang (Director/Producer)
Jialing Zhang (Producer)
Julie Goldman (Producer)
10:08-10:18 a.m. – Becoming Cousteau
Liz Garbus (Director)
10:18-10:28 a.m. – The First Wave
Matthew Heineman (Director)
10:28-10:41 a.m. – The Sparks Brothers
Edgar Wright (Director)
Ron Mael (Subject).
10:41-10:53 a.m. – Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
Morgan Neville (Director/Producer)
Caitrin Rogers (Producer).
Eileen Meyer (Editor)
Aaron Wickenden (Editor)
10:53-11:04 a.m. – Procession
Robert Greene (Director)
11:05-11:16 a.m. – LFG
Andrea Nix Fine (Director/Producer)
Sean Fine (Director/Director of Photography/Producer)
Becky Sauerbrunn (Subject: United States Women’s National Soccer Team Member)
11:16-11:26 a.m. – Flee
Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Director)
11:27-11:37 a.m. – My Name Is Pauli Murray
Betsy West (Director/Writer).
Julie Cohen (Director/Writer),
Talleah Bridges McMahon (Producer/Writer)
11:37-11:47 a.m. – Val
Leo Scott (Director/Producer)
Ting Poo (Director/Producer).
11:48 a.m.-12:18 p.m. – LUNCH
APPLE ORIGINAL FILM
12:19-12:31 p.m. – Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry
Jenna Rosher, Cinematographer
R.J. Cutler (Writer/Director/Producer)
12:31-12:42 p.m. – The Velvet Underground
Todd Haynes (Director/Producer)
Adam Kurnitz (Editor)
12:42-12:53 p.m. – Homeroom
Peter Nicks (Director/Producer).
12:53-1:05 p.m. – Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Ahmir “Questlove”Thompson (Director/Executive producer)
1:05-1:16 p.m. – Citizen Ashe
Rex Miller (Codirector).
Sam Pollard (Co-Director)
SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
1:16-1:27 p.m. – Julia
Julie Cohen (Director)
Betsy West (Director).
1:27-1:38 p.m. – Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Emily Kunstler (Director)
Sarah Kunstler (Director)
Jeffery Robinson (Subject).
1:38-1:49 p.m. – Francesco
Evgeny Afineevsky (Director/Producer)
1:49-2 p.m. – Rebel Hearts
Pedro Kos (Director)
Shawnee Isaac Smith (Writer/Producer).
Kira Carstensen (Producer)
Judy Korin (Producer)
2-2:13 p.m. – Introducing, Selma Blair
Rachel Fleit (Director)
Selma Blair (Subject).