Documentary Still in Running for Oscar Nomination
“Which Way Home,” a documentary film that follows unaccompanied child migrants as they journey through Mexico on a train to the United States, had more than 2.5 million viewers during its HBO broadcast, but a statue named Oscar might be its biggest fan yet.
The film, which aired on the premium cable channel from August through October, has advanced in the voting process in the Documentary Feature category for the 82nd Academy Awards. While 89 films originally qualified in the category, only five out of the 15 that advanced will be nominated for the award.
Alma College Assistant Professor Stephany Slaughter, who participated from 2006 to 2009 as one of seven field producers for the film, is passionate about the film’s subject.
Poster for 'Which Way Home'
“I thought I knew a lot about the issues, but it was an eye-opening experience, even for me,” says Slaughter of the filmmaking process.
Rebecca Cammisa, the film’s director, was in her office at HBO when a friend called with the good news about the film making the Academy Award’s semifinal list.
“I had a feeling that we might make the short list, but it was such a long-shot,” says Cammisa. “There are so many wonderful documentaries this year, I was really surprised when I did get that call.”
Since the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009, it has been shown at various film festivals in the United States, Europe and Mexico.
Cammisa and company have worked extensively on outreach goals, in order to call attention to the issues explored in the film, such as immigration and child welfare. They partnered with UNICEF and the National Center for Immigrant and Refugee Children to create a basic Web site with a “Click to Donate” page, so viewers can give to the children who appear in the film.
For both Cammisa and Slaughter, interacting with the children in the film was rewarding. Equally rewarding is the feedback they’ve received from viewers.
“I’ve enjoyed talking to people about the topic,” says Slaughter. “ I don’t think I could write a book that would have this kind of impact. This proves the possibility of activism through art.”
The film has caught the attention of the First Lady of Mexico, Margarita Zavala, who felt the film was so important, she requested that the Morelia International Film Festival schedule an extra screening.
Zavala, who is the president of the National System for the Integral Development of the Family, a government agency that helps to strengthen families in Mexico, felt compelled to share the film with the first lady of the United States.
“We were extremely excited when the First Lady of Mexico requested our film, so she could give it to Mrs. Michelle Obama at the G-20 Summit,” says Cammisa. “One of our goals is to reach the highest levels of government, so the film can hopefully participate in positive immigration reform.”
Tune in on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 at 8:30 a.m. to watch the Academy Award nominations and see if “Which Way Home” makes the final cut.
For more information, visit the film’s Web site at www.whichwayhome.net.
Posted: Tue, December 15th, 2009 at 8:44AM