News & Opinion

Guardian documentary nominated for an Oscar

Black Sheep has been revealed as one of the five films nominated in the Documentary Short Subject category for the 91st Academy Awards.

The documentary follows the story of Cornelius Walker, whose mother moved him and his family out of London to Essex after 10 year old Damilola Taylor was killed in what became one of the UK's most high-profile killings. Now living on a predominantly white estate run by racists, Cornelius became a target of extreme verbal and physical racial abuse. He decided to become more like the people who hated him. Dealing with questions of race and family identity, the film is a unique look at a young man's struggle. The film is free to watch on The Guardian's website here or see below.

The Guardian documentary was directed by Ed Perkins, produced by Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn, co-founders of award-winning production company Lightbox, and executive produced by The Guardian's head of documentaries Charlie Phillips and Lindsay Poulton. The winners of the Oscars will be announced on February 24 during a ceremony in Los Angeles.

This is the first time a Guardian-commissioned documentary has been nominated for an Oscar. Black Sheep is also the only European film nominated in the Documentary Short Subject category this year.

The following film contains strong language.

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief at Guardian News & Media, said: "It's wonderful to see such an important and personal story resonate with so many people and I'm delighted that The Guardian helped to tell it. As Black Sheep continues to win praise around the world, this Oscar nomination is a real honour for the film and the talented team who worked on it."

Charlie Phillips, head of documentaries at Guardian News & Media, added: "We're proud that this unique film has been recognised by the Academy and that Cornelius' story will spread even further with this nomination. Thanks to his bravery in speaking with such candour, combined with Ed Perkins' beautiful filmmaking, this film will resonate with anyone who's struggled with their identity as a teenager, and it says something profound and relevant about race in today's world."

Ed Perkins, the film's director, commented: "We cannot explain how much it means to us all that this film is reaching audiences all over the world and that people are empathising and resonating with Cornelius' extraordinary journey. I would like to thank the incredible teams at Lightbox and The Guardian for their immeasurable support throughout the process of bringing this story to the screen. It has been a wonderful collaboration. And most of all I'd like to thank Cornelius. As documentary filmmakers we are nothing without extraordinary, brave people like Cornelius who are willing to sit in front of our cameras and bear their souls. Cornelius is a very special human being and I feel immensely fortunate to have been able - in some small way - to help him share his complex and important story with others."

Black Sheep has already picked up a number of high-profile industry awards winning the Best Short Documentary award at Sheffield Doc/Fest, as well as Best of Fest, Best Documentary and Best Screenplay at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

A full list of the Oscar nominations can be found here.

by Jessie Sampson 23/01/19

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