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“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” Snubbed for Best Documentary Oscar Nomination

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After not one but two art world documentaries received Academy Awards nominations in 2011 — the Banksy-Mr. Brainwash film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and the doc following Vik Muniz’s project in a Brazilian landfill, “Waste Land” — Alison Klayman’s documentary on the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei seemed like a lock for a nod in 2013, especially after making the 15-film shortlist, but it was not to be.

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” was not among the five very worthy nominated documentary features announced this morning by Emma Stone and Oscars host-to-be Seth McFarlane. They include two films dealing with aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict — “5 Broken Cameras” and “The Gatekeepers” — the film on the early years of the AIDS epidemic “How to Survive a Plague,” the exposé on sexual assault in the U.S. military “The Invisible War,” and the music documentary “Searching for Sugar Man.”

“I guess the Oscars will be broadcast uninterrupted in Mainland China this year after all,” Klayman posted on her Facebook wall this morning. “A big congrats to all the Oscar nominees, and to all the incredible nonfiction films of 2012.”

Despite not receiving an Oscar statue or even a nomination, Klayman and company have notched a number of major awards, including a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Illustration by the author.)

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  1. It could be worse. What if “Never Sorry” were displaced by two other art world docs released in the US in 2012: Corinna Belz’s bland “Gerhard Richter: Painting” or the worshipful “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present?” Man, would that sting. I couldn’t stand those movies.

    This isn’t happy news, but it also isn’t particularly shocking or painful. So much of the Oscars depends on exposure and general reputation! Klayman’s was a very worthy film. We haven’t heard the last of her.

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