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ThinkFilm Hails Its 'Phenomenal' Documentary Oscar Nomination Streak

14 Feb, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Indie supplier ThinkFilm Entertainment is setting a trend. For the third consecutive year, a ThinkFilm feature has been nominated for the best documentary Oscar.

This year's ThinkFilm honoree, Murderball, the inspiring and entertaining story of a group of relentless wheelchair-bound rugby players, hit DVD Nov. 29, 2005.

Murderball's recognition this year did not come as a big surprise to the supplier, but it will give the title a nice boost in the video market, said Jeff Sackman president and CEO of ThinkFilm.

“From the first time it screened, Roger Ebert said Murderball was the best documentary and that it would win,” he said. “The nomination gives Murderball five weeks of heightened exposure. If it wins, it's timeless.”

Last year, the ThinkFilm title Born Into Brothels took home the documentary statuette, beating out another ThinkFilm nominated doc, The Story of the Weeping Camel. The prior year, spelling-bee doc Spellbound was honored with a nom in the category. ThinkFilm has self-distributed some titles and licensed others to bigger studios.

An Oscar nomination is quite special in the documentary category because these films often are less visible than nominees in other fields, Sackman said. “Every year, thousands of filmmakers are hoping for the exposure of a theatrical release for their documentaries,” he said. “Perhaps 100 get some kind of theatrical release, but only five get the nomination. So this is a phenomenal achievement.”

Murderball has some healthy competition this year, not the least of which is March of the Penguins. “Side by side, Murderball more than holds its own,” Sackman said. “The last time I looked, the category was not for the most profitable documentary of the year. It's for the best — and that's what we've got.”

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