Film screened at Docutah takes home an Oscar

This undated composite image features a still image from the documentary film "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405" along with an image of an Oscar statue and film | Oscar statue from fee pngs.com, film image from Pixabay, documentary still image courtesy of Docutah International Documentary Film Festival, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University Docutah International Documentary Film Festival is proud to announce that “Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” a film which screened at the 2017 festival, won a 2018 Academy Award Sunday night in the category Documentary (Short Subject).

“Docutah accepts only the highest quality of documentary film, whether feature length, shorts or student films,” said Phil Tuckett, professor of digital film at Dixie State University and executive director of Docutah. “Each film must live up to the professional standards of seasoned award-winning filmmakers, who submit to Docutah,”

In addition to the award-winning documentary, Tuckett said, another film from the 2017 festival was nominated in the Documentary (Feature) category: “Last Men in Aleppo.”

“Both of these films received exceptional critical acclaim in prestigious publications including  VarietyIndieWire and the New Yorker Magazine,” Tuckett said, adding:

There is a real renaissance in documentary filmmaking now and audiences are craving these films, which help them relate to their own lives, understand the world around them and find common ground and empathy with others who may be close or may be experiencing events both horrific or beautiful in far flung regions of the world.

As far as these goals are concerned, both the horrors of war and the challenges of mental illness – the subject matter of the two films recognized at the Academy Awards – are topics which confront us every day in the news. The two nominated documentaries give the audience real insight into the human spirit in its nobility, its ignominy and those who strive to overcome both. It is important that the Academy chooses to have categories to honor this important art form.

“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” is portrait of a brilliant artist who has always battled devastating depression and anxiety. Her hyper-self-awareness has produced drawings and sculpture that describe her state of mind with powerful psychological precision. By examining her family history and a lifetime of her work, audiences learn how art gave her a voice that saved her life and how she has emerged from a life of darkness and isolation to a life that includes love, trust and laughter.

“Last Men in Aleppo” follows the efforts of the internationally recognized White Helmets, an organization comprising ordinary citizens who are the first to rush towards military strikes and attacks in the hope of saving lives. Incorporating moments of both heart-pounding suspense and improbable beauty, the documentary draws audiences into the lives of three of its founders – Khaled, Subhi, and Mahmoud – as they grapple with the chaos around them and struggle with an ever-present dilemma: Do they flee or stay and fight for their country?

About the Dixie State University Docutah International Film Festival

The annual documentary film festival celebrates the art of documentary filmmaking. The festival takes place every September on the campus of Dixie State University and offers a week of entertaining films from all over the world, as well as year-round programs including monthly film screenings, all of which provide creative, cultural, and educational engagement. Docutah also offers students at DSU an enhanced education and easy access to the Festival.

The 2018 festival will run from September 3-8 and will include Doctalk sessions and gala events. To learn more visit the festival’s website.

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