Chicago's Oscar Hopefuls
January 7, 2020 by Screenmag
Oscar Season is upon us, and there are several Chicago executive producers with high hopes heading into the nomination announcement this Monday. Chicago Media Project is a collective of investors and philanthropists with the venerable mission of supporting films and media organizations making a real difference. This year, they have three documentary features that have cracked the prestigious Oscar shortlist. Let's take a look...
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
Chicago Media Project (CMP) served as co-executive producers on this documentary centering on three women running for office during the 2018 U.S. congressional election, most notably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ("The AOC"). The film won the Audience Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and now has its sights set on an Academy Award nomination.
What makes this documentary special? For CMP co-founder Paula Froehle the answer is clear. "The AOC," Froehle told SCREEN. "Actually, it’s all three of the women. Each represents the struggles women face to balance work and family life when they feel passionately about their goals. And the fact that all three of the women were not in politics when they decided to run was additionally inspiring. It’s taps into the American spirit - anyone can run for office and win!"
In this Tribeca Film Festival critics pick, Academy Award winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams looks at the storied history of the iconic New York venue, The Apollo. "Combine Roger Ross Williams' compelling storytelling direction with incredible archival footage of every major black performer as seen through the prism of five decades of social and political change in Harlem and the country and you’ve got a special movie," says CMP co-founder Steve Cohen.
What attracted Chicago Media Project and its members to invest in this project? "We heard about the idea for the movie back in 2015 when it was still in very early stage and we knew we had to be part of making it happen," Cohen told SCREEN. "This was actually the very first equity investment by CMP and we felt it was the perfect project to launch our equity fund."
ONE CHILD NATION
In the 2019 Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary One Child Nation, Chinese-born filmmakers Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang expose the devastating consequences of China’s One-Child Policy through the stories of those who lived through it. "Beyond being a film about China’s One Child Policy, it also raises broader questions about propaganda, freedom of thought, and reproductive freedom," CMP member and ONE CHILD NATION Executive Producer Ken Pelletier told SCREEN. "Also, by giving us very personal points of view from different sides, we are invited to examine our own expectations and understanding of the policy and ask ourselves “what would I have done?”, “who are the victims and who are the perpetrators?”
All Chicago Media Project eyes will be on the Oscar nomination announcement this Monday. CMP is no stranger to the festivities, having helped finance the 2018 Best Documentary winner, ICARUS. "The Oscar shortlist is a wonderful acknowledgment from the industry and in some ways means as much as the final five," concluded CMP Co-Founder Froehle. "We are particularly proud that they’ve chosen to acknowledge relatively new directors. We have high hopes for these films to make it to the top five, but regardless are thrilled by the acknowledgment!"