This morning’s nomination for RBG as Best Feature Documentary serves a welcome cap to a banner year for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the SCOTUS whose culture status has been greatly elevated thanks, in part, to this film and the Felicity Jones-starring biopic On the Basis of Sex in which Ginsburg made a cameo.
It didn’t hurt that RBG premiered at Sundance last year, too, where the longtime women’s rights advocate was in attendance and spoke on the rise of the #MeToo movement.
The documentarians nominated today — Betsy West and Julie Cohen — this morning broke the news of the nomination to Justice Ginsburg, who was said to have been “enthusiastic” about the recognition. The two filmmakers, however, told Deadline that they don’t expect Ginsburg to join them at the February 24 Oscar Awards ceremony “given that she’s recovering from major surgery and has a really important job to get back to,” said Cohen. This is the filmmakers’ first-ever Oscar nom in the doc feature category.
The filmmakers said they were very gratified with the response their film has gotten since its release last year. “It has been a part of a national conversation of her life and the values she represents and what she accomplished in her life and the meaning of it going forward. It’s been rewarding,” said RGB director and producer West. “When we began making this documentary, we were really focused on telling Justice Ginsburg’s extraordinary story.”
“The beauty of the documentary medium is that you can tell these stories that are a personal story and a cinematic story but yet have much broader relevance,” added Cohen. “We spent three years making our film. When it was released in 2018 it certainly felt relevant to the times at hand. The Justice’s message about equality, the rule of law, stability, and dissent when needed are important messages.”
The two filmmakers were part of the few females to be recognized this morning in the behind-the-scenes categories, which was made up of 53 women out of the 211 individuals nominated.
“The first step is always to get women into the room, to get them in a position of working in top roles behind the camera… women can’t be recognized for their work in film until they’re actually making films,” Cohen remarked. “I actually think the documentary field is getting stronger on that issue, and I hope that the narrative film world and the big feature world – action films, docs, superhero movies, or the places where the big financial decisions are being made by studios — I hope putting their faith behind women would start to open up a little more in those parts of the industry too.”