Oscar Nominations and The Alchemy of Resonance

In filmmaking, raves, Uncategorized on February 18, 2008 at 11:26 am

The best films often don’t win the biggest awards.

This is the conclusion that I have come to after observing film competitions and award ceremonies on the sidelines.

I have seen very average films make it to the top film festivals in the world. On the other hand, highly nuanced and well produced pieces have been left out on the cold, hard pavement of rejection.

The key to this puzzle lies in that intangible and elusive variable we sometimes call “resonance”

Oscar-nominated documentaries send message of hope – Yahoo! News

News about this year’s Oscar nominations seem to confirm this educated guess. 4 out of 15 films that made it to the shortlist for documentary features deal with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of these, 3 out of the 4 war films, No End in Sight, Taxi to the Dark Side,Operation Homecoming, scored Oscar nominations.

We all know that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are millstones tied to the neck of the American conscience. So documentary film making,too,becomes a means of exorcising the ghosts of blood, violence and the tears of innocent victims. The war theme resonates with the American zeitgeist.

In other words, if you are making a personal film about a little known cause in an obscure place with a polysyllabic name that defies pronunciation, your chances of clinching an Oscar nomination and winning a big award are close to zero. No matter how well-made your film may be.

This is because your film will not find resonance with your intended audience. The jury panel and the film festival goers may be frustrated because they search, could not find, those reflections of their greatest sorrows and deepest anxieties in your work of art.

In that sense, the ability to read the times and have your finger on the pulse of your audience is just as important as the technical skills involved in crafting a good film.

Having said that, it is perhaps wise to go ahead and make that obscure little film anyway.

The making of the film that is after your heart is reward in itself, even without the coveted laurels of nominations and awards.
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