EXCLUSIVE: Oscar campaigning is at a fever pitch as the voting deadline looms, and companies are going all-out to promote their – documentaries? Despite looking up at perceived front-runner Citizenfour, Netflix is working hard to get attention for Virunga, the film about endangered gorillas that it acquired in November. The streaming service – which has its second consecutive Feature Documentary Oscar nom following last year’s The Square – has been spending on billboards and ads, and now it has a new weapon.
Starting Friday, Netflix will stream Virunga: Gorillas In Peril, a half-hour behind-the-scenes special about the documentary that’s hosted by Soledad O’Brien and executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio (watch it above). It features clips from the film, news footage and new interviews with experts along with Virunga director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara. But here’s the kicker: In a unique and savvy move, Gorillas In Peril also will air at 7:30 pm Friday on TV outlets KCBS and KTLA in Los Angeles. It seems no coincidence that the only TV market in the country that’s getting the special is the one that the majority of Academy members call home.
Meanwhile, HBO is doing some Oscar campaigning of its own for Citizenfour, which picked up BAFTA and DGA awards over the weekend. That Radius-distributed film about NSA leaker Edward Snowden will premiere February 23 on the premium channel – the day after the Academy Awards. But on Thursday, the night before Netflix bows its Virunga special, Snowden himself will be hitting the campaign circuit with a Q&A done via satellite with Citizenfour director Laura Poitras.