Eight months ago, Sheila Nevins, the former longtime president of HBO Documentary and Family Programming, took over as head of MTV Documentary Films, a division of MTV Studios. One of the first projects she set up was short documentary St. Louis Superman, which today landed a Oscar nomination in the Documentary (Short Subject) category. It marked MTV’s first Oscar nomination in 15 years.
Nevins is no stranger to Oscars, her projects having won 28 statuettes over the course of her career. St. Louis Superman is MTV’s third Oscar nomination in its 39-year history. The network previously won for Best Original Song in 2005 for Hustle & Flow, and received nominations for 2004’s Tupac: Resurrection and 1999’s Election.
“St. Louis Superman is an underdog story and MTV is an underdog film distributor which makes all of this that much more gratifying and very special,” Nevins told Deadline. “There are so many great shorts – it’s such a competitive category and every year it seems to get more so. Bruce Franks Jr. is a hero and this nomination means that more people will get to hear his story and the amazing work he’s doing. That’s the beauty of documentary. We’re very happy and grateful. It’s a really good day and we’ve (MTV Documentary Films) only been at it for eight months!”
Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan-directed St. Louis Superman is about Representative Bruce Franks Jr., a Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri House of Representatives.
Produced by Mundhra, Khan and Poh Si Teng, and executive produced by Nevins and Fiona Lawson-Baker, St. Louis Superman won the jury prize for Best Documentary Short at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at AFI Docs and the Special Jury Mention at Tribeca Film Festival.
During her tenure at HBO, Nevins oversaw the production of more than 1000 documentary films and earned 32 Primetime Emmys as an executive producer or producer, more than any other individual. In addition, she received 35 News and Documentary Emmys and 42 George Foster Peabody Awards.