What better news than this to wake up to? Jan. 13, 2020 morning would always be a memorable one for Indian American filmmakers Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan. Their film, “St. Louis Superman,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced early Jan. 13, is now one of five finalists for an Oscar.
“St. Louis Superman,” a 28-minute documentary on former Missouri Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr., is among five nominees competing for the Oscars 2020 in the documentary short subject category.
A total of 96 films qualified in the category before members of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences narrowed it down to ten. Five of them are now finalists.
A deluge of congratulatory messages greeted the duo on social media.
“Yes, I was nominated for an Academy Award but did you know we also successfully potty-trained our toddler?! Huge week!” tweeted Khan.
So epic was Khan’s tweet that the Academy retweeted it with Oscar emjoi. “@samikhanfil’s reaction to becoming an #Oscars nominee! #OscarNoms,” read the tweet.
In another tweet, Khan thanked MTV Documentary Films chief Sheila Nevins, writing, “Thank you @thesheilanevins for having our backs!”
Other documentaries vying for the award are “In the Absence,” “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl),” “Life Overtakes Me” and “Walk Run Cha-Cha.”
The award-winning film from MTV Documentary films shows how Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr., a Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri House of Representatives, must overcome both personal trauma and political obstacles to pass a critical bill for his community.
Here’s the film’s description on Vimeo: “Known as Superman to his constituents, Bruce Franks Jr., is a political figure the likes of which you’ve never seen — full of contradictions and deep insights, who has overcome unspeakable loss to become one of the most dynamic and unapologetic young leaders in the country. This verite documentary follows Bruce at a critical juncture in his life. He’s forced to deal with the mental trauma he's been carrying for nearly 30 years, ever since his 9-year-old brother was shot and killed in front of him. Only by confronting his pain can Bruce find peace and truly fulfill his destiny as a leader for his community.”
“St. Louis Superman” is produced by Mundhra, Khan and Poh Si Teng and executive produced by Nevins and Fiona Lawson-Baker.
The film won the jury prize for the Best Documentary Short at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the Audience Award for the Best Short at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Audience Award for the Best Short at AFI Docs, and the Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The 92nd Oscars will be held Feb. 9 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and will be televised live on ABC.
Mundhra explored the institution of arranged marriages in India through her 100-minute documentary, “A Suitable Girl,” which made its debut at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 and went on to win the ‘Albert Maysles Best New Documentary Director Award’ at the fest.
Khan’s feature debut, “Khoya,” was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access fellowship.