Amy Winehouse documentary named semifinalist for Oscar


LOS ANGELES (JTA) — A British documentary on the late Jewish singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse is among the semifinalists for an Academy Award.

“Amy” was in the field of 15 films for top documentary feature after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences winnowed the list of 124 contenders on Tuesday. A dozen films on Jewish and Israeli topics were eliminated.

Two American-Jewish filmmakers — Davis Guggenheim and Joshua Oppenheimer — also made the cut and are among the favorites to claim the Oscar.

“Amy” tells the story of Winehouse, whose meteoric career and tortured life was cut short at the age of 27 through drug abuse and alcohol poisoning. Her brother describes Winehouse in the film as “a little Jewish kid from North London with a big talent.”

Guggenheim directed “He Called Me Malala,” an intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzu, a Pakistani who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 for her advocacy of education for girls.

Oppenheimer in “The Look of Silence” documents the killing of some 500,000 alleged communists by the Indonesian military in 1965 and 1966.

Among the contenders that did not make the cut are documentaries on Israel’s prime ministers, the birth of the Israeli Air Force and somber recollections by veterans of the Six-Day War. Also eliminated were the recollections of a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor and testimonies by the sons of two Nazi war criminals, as well as the Palestinian entry satirizing Israeli restrictions on the livelihoods of Palestinians.

The 15 candidates will be cut to five when nominations in all categories are announced on Jan. 15. The 2016 Oscar winners will be announced on Feb. 28.

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