The seven-and-a-half-hour film, directed by Ezra Edelman and produced by Caroline Waterlow, has scored ESPN Films its very first Oscar. And talk about taking out titles, It has also been recognised as the longest film to win an Academy Award, out-shadowing the 1969 Best Foreign Language Film winner War and Peace, which ran for a total of 431 minutes.
The film, part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, is the controversial cultural tale of America - a chronicle of race, violence and the criminal justice system. Even after two decades the story continues to unravel and fascinate audiences.
"I want to thank the Academy for acknowledging this untraditional film.”
Apart from being the first Academy Award nomination for Brooklyn-based director, this is also his first big win. In his acceptance speech, Edelman paid tribute to those that contributed to his epic journey.
“First of all, this is incredible...I want to thank Caroline Waterlow for going on this journey with me. Yes, give it up. I want to thank the Academy for acknowledging this untraditional film.”
Edelman then went on to dedicate the award to Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman - the victims in the murder case.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for two people who couldn’t be here with us: Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. This is for them and their families. It is also for others — the victims of police violence, police brutality, racially motivated violence, and criminal injustice. I am honoured to accept this award on all of their behalf.”
The film draws upon more than 70 interviews from friends and colleagues of Simpson and includes archival news footage of his career, starting with his first season playing football at the University of Southern California and ending with his infamous 1995 murder trial. The compelling documentary provides a deeper enhanced understanding of Modern American sports culture, pop culture, and systemic racism, as well as within the rise of reality TV and recent calls for criminal justice reform.
O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the murders in his 1995 criminal trial, but was later found liable in a civil trial – one that created much controversy.
The 89th Academy Awards also saw the likes of other compelling documentaries such as 13th, which explores issues of mass incarceration and racial discrimination in the justice system, I Am Not Your Negro, which was Raoul Peck’s adaptation of the unfinished James Baldwin manuscript, 13th, a documentary exploring issues of mass incarceration and racial discrimination in the justice system and Italian director Gianfranco Rusi’s chronicling of the European migrant crisis.
A Golden Globe hasn’t been awarded for Best Documentary since 1976.