2009–2010 Contemporary Documentaries


The 28th annual Contemporary Documentaries series was a showcase for feature-length and short documentaries drawn from the 2008 Academy Award®Â nominations, including the winners, as well as other important and innovative films considered by the Academy that year.

All films in the series were screened at the Linwood Dunn Theater at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., except for the IMAX presentations on December 9. The filmmakers were present at screenings whenever possible.

The films included in the series were “Man on Wire,” “In a Dream,” “The Garden,” “Crips and Bloods: Made in America,” “Encounters at the End of the World,” “Flow,” “David McCullough: Painting with Words,” “Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts,” “Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh,” “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” “Wild Ocean,” and “Hurricane on the Bayou.”

Event Information

Wednesday evenings, through December 9, at 7 p.m.
Linwood Dunn Theater
1313 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90028
IMAX Theater
California Science Center
Exposition Park
39th Street & Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90037
  • Wednesday, September 30, at 7 p.m.

    Man on Wire

    Philippe Petit

    Directed by James Marsh

    Produced by Simon Chinn

    In 1974, Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between New York’s twin towers, in a feat that became known as “the artistic crime of the century.” Petit and some of his co-conspirators recall this extraordinary adventure in this Oscar®-winning documentary. 35mm. 94 mins.

    Academy Award winner: Documentary Feature

    In a Dream

    Isaiah Zagar and his wife

    Directed by Jeremiah Zagar

    Produced by Jeremy Yaches

    Over the past four decades, artist Isaiah Zagar has covered Philadelphia with mosaic murals. “In a Dream” chronicles this work and his tumultuous relationship with his wife, as a new chapter in their life unfolds. Digital. 78 mins.

  • Wednesday, October 7, at 7 p.m.

    The Garden

    The Garden

    Directed and produced by Scott Hamilton Kennedy

    In response to the 1992 L.A. riots, the South Central Farmers started a 14-acre community garden as a form of healing. As this film unfolds, the future of the garden hangs in the balance as developers look to bulldoze the area. 35mm. 80 mins.

    Academy Award nominee: Documentary Feature

    Crips and Bloods: Made in America

    Crips and Bloods: Made in America

    Directed by Stacy Peralta

    Produced by Baron Davis, Dan Halsted, Peralta, Jesse Dylan

    Tracing the origins, rise and four-decades-long feud of two Los Angeles gangs, “Crips and Bloods: Made in America” (previously titled “Made in America”) gives viewers unprecedented access into a little understood world. Current and former gang members offer street-level testimony that paints a stark portrait of life in South Central L.A. Digital. 93 mins.

  • Wednesday, October 21, at 7 p.m.

    Encounters at the End of the World

    Encounters at the End of the World

    Directed by Werner Herzog

    Produced by Henry Kaiser

    Antarctica is a breathtaking and surreal world within a world. Herzog examines the forces of human nature and Mother Nature, as they come head-to-head in Earth’s most remote continent. 35mm. 99 mins.

    Academy Award nominee: Documentary Feature



    Directed by Irena Salina

    Produced by Steven Starr

    The growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply is a political, environmental and human rights crisis. “Flow” identifies not only the culprits, but also the crusaders who are fighting for change. 35mm. 84 mins.

  • Wednesday, November 4, at 7 p.m.

    David McCullough: Painting with Words

    David McCullough

    Directed by Mark Herzog

    Produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman

    Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough (Truman, John Adams), known for immersing himself in the lives of his subjects, turns that inquisitive eye on himself. McCullough provides an insightful, anecdotal look into his life and career. Digital. 39 mins.

    Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts

    Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts

    Directed by Scott Hicks

    Produced by Hicks, Susanne Preissler

    Composer Philip Glass grants audiences a rare glimpse behind the curtain into his working process and family life, as well as to his spiritual teachers and longtime collaborators. Shot over 18 months and on three continents, Hicks assembles a mosaic portrait of a surprising and complex artist. Digital. 119 mins.

  • Wednesday, November 11, at 7 p.m.

    Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh

    Hannah Senesh

    Directed by Roberta Grossman

    Produced by Grossman, Lisa Thomas

    Poet, diarist and paratrooper, Hannah Senesh was a uniquely talented and brave woman. Through eyewitness accounts and her own words describing Senesh’s role in the only military rescue mission for Jews during the Holocaust, the soul of a hero is revealed. 35mm. 86 mins.

    Pray the Devil Back to Hell

    Pray the Devil Back to Hell

    Directed by Gini Reticker

    Produced by Abigail E. Disney

    “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” chronicles the story of women in Liberia who mounted a peaceful campaign against the country’s bloody civil war. Proving that nonviolent protest can still effect change, demonstrators gathered daily in the central market area of Monrovia, and later staged a sit-in at the location of peace talks in Ghana. This grassroots effort by women of different backgrounds, ages and religions got warlords to listen, and helped transform Liberia. 35mm. 72 mins.

  • Wednesday, December 9, at 7 p.m.

    At the IMAX Theater, California Science Center

    Wild Ocean

    Wild Ocean

    Directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas

    Produced by Don Kempf, Steve Kempf, David Marks

    Shot on the KwaZulu-Natal Coast of South Africa (also known as the Wild Coast), this film plunges the viewer into a sea teeming with dolphins, sharks and whales. Economic and ecological factors are increasingly impacting the coastal communities, but locals are taking new measures to protect and preserve the area. 70mm. 40 mins.

    Hurricane on the Bayou

    Hurricane on the Bayou

    Directed and produced by Greg MacGillivray

    This film, initially intended as a clarion call for wetlands preservation along the Louisiana coast, changed as two-time Academy Award-nominated producer-director Greg MacGillivray shifted gears in post-production. After Hurricane Katrina, he returned to Louisiana to capture the devastation wrought by the storm on New Orleans. Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep. 70mm. 40 mins. (Submitted to the Academy in 2006)

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