Berkeley J-School alums Daphne Matziaraki and lecturer Dan Krauss named Academy Award finalists
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has narrowed the field of Documentary Short Subject contenders for the 89th Academy Awards to five films, two of them produced by graduates of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
May 2016 documentary graduate Daphne Matziaraki’s stunning thesis film “4.1 Miles”–on the refugee crisis in her native Greece–has already been honored with a Student Academy Award. That win automatically placed her in the running for an Oscar in a documentary category, competing with veteran filmmakers including her own J-School instructor, Dan Krauss.
“4.1 Miles” is a 22-minute film focused on a Greek coast guard officer based on the island of Lesbos, who is caught in the middle of Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. The film, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, received production funding from Minette Nelson and David Eckles of The Filmmaker Fund, which makes direct grants to students through the Fine Cut Fund at the J-School. It also won the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award at the International Documentary Association (IDA) Awards in December.
Lecturer and alum Dan Krauss’s (’04) “Extremis,” a verite documentary exploring the harrowing decisions that doctors, families and patients face in urgent end-of-life cases, also list of Oscar finalists. With extraordinary access to the intensive care unit of a public hospital (Highland Hospital in Oakland), the film offers a uniquely intimate look at the intersection of science, faith and humanity. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was named Best Documentary Short. It was also nominated for Best Short at the International Documentary Association (IDA) Awards. This is Krauss’s second Oscar nomination; the first was for his J-School thesis film about a war photographer, “The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club.”
“That two of the five documentaries in this category were produced by filmmakers in our immediate J-School family is remarkable. What a day for our documentary program, its many illustrious grads and the teachers who’ve groomed what’s becoming almost a movement of amazing non-fiction filmmakers,” said Dean Edward Wasserman. “Thank you to the Academy.”
The Oscars will be awarded on Feb. 26 and will be televised live on ABC stations.
About the Documentary Program at UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley’s documentary program is widely considered one of the most important graduate nonfiction film programs in the U.S. Carrying on the work begun by producer Andrew Stern and pioneering black gay filmmaker Marlon T. Riggs in the 1970s, professors Jon Else and current program director Orlando Bagwell have trained hundreds of filmmakers of talent, diversity, and accomplishment.
Grounded in the values of professional journalism–accuracy, eloquence, aggressive research and reporting, fine writing, ethics and analysis–combined with fundamentals of solid filmmaking, documentary production at UC Berkeley emphasizes visual imagery and a wide range of storytelling styles: investigative, historical, biography, personal essay, and cinema verite.
The School’s graduate students routinely win more national student Emmys for documentary than those of any other university program in the country. They’ve also won student Oscars, and alongside alumni, have routinely had premiere screenings at the top film festivals in the world, among them Sundance, Cannes, SXSW, and Tribeca.
By Marlena Telvick