Hell and Back Again is Oscars 2011 listed for Best Documentary Feature


I have always believed a film shot on a DSLR would one day win an Oscar.

Shot in Afghanistan on the 5D Mark II by Danfung Dennis – Hell and Back Again – seems to be going all the way. It is one of just 15 documentaries which will advance to the final shortlist vote for the Oscars 2011. The feature length documentary has long been known by us in the DSLR community, and gives an incredibly immersive and intimate view of war never before captured.

You can view the full ‘long list’ of all 15 documentary features at the Oscars website here. Notable absences include Senna, I really expected that would be in but it is incredible to see a film shot on a DSLR being more successful than a mainstream hit like that.

The small size and weight of the DSLR used to shoot it meant rigging could be personal and light enough to carry into around a war zone. The film is yet more proof for the doubters that DSLRs are suitable for feature length filmmaking at the highest level. If this wins an Oscar it will be a massive boost to the creditability of DSLRs as serious filmmaking tools. Of course – we – the enlightened ones, knew that all along.

At the now sadly defunct Converge Festival earlier this year I was lucky enough to see a preview segment which was incredible. The footage was projected on a theatre screen and even that large it held up brilliantly. With all the moire, aliasing, 8bit banding, rolling shutter and lack of resolution that the old 5D Mark II has in some shots – it looked superb anyway. It is an absolute fact that DSLR footage looks a lot better on the big screen than you can reasonably expect. The GH2 would have looked even better.

Read The Guardian’s 4-star review of Hell and Back Again here