Two Indian-American filmmakers, Smriti Mundhra & Sami Khan, have been nominated for the ‘Best Short Documentary’ at Oscars 2020. Their film, St. Louis Superman, tells the story of an African-American rap artist and activist Bruce Franks, who was inspired to run for office after the unrest in Ferguson in 2014. Elected as a Democrat in an overwhelmingly White Republican chamber, the film accompanies Franks as he reflects on old demons.
Yes, I was nominated for an Academy Award but did you know we also successfully potty-trained our toddler?! Huge week! https://t.co/8Y8DSdqj2C
— sami khan (@samikhanfilm) January 13, 2020
This is Smriti Mundhra’s second directing credit after 2017’s A Suitable Girl. A feature-length documentary about the struggles of modern Indian women, as they juggle personal ambition with marriage in the Indian society, Mundhra shared directing credits with Sarita Khurana. Khan, on the other hand, is best-known for his 2015 feature film, Khoya.
St. Louis Superman is the first documentary from MTV Documentary Films to get an Oscar nomination. MTV’s Sheila Nevins watched the 28-minute film at the Tribeca Film Festival, and picked it up. The documentary features a coda explaining Franks’ resignation in 2019 after prolonged political and emotional struggles. The documentary follows Franks as he tries to get a gun-control legislation passed through a hostile chamber.
Last year, Rayka Zehtabchi won this very category for Period. End Of Sentence. A film about how a few women from rural Uttar Pradesh come together to manufacture low-cost, biodegradable sanitary napkins, providing themselves with an independent livelihood and the personal hygiene for women in the nearby areas.