Colorado-based documentary filmmaker Daniel Junge received his second Oscar nomination for the short film "Saving Face." Junge and Henry Ansbacher were nominated in 2009 for their documentary short "The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner." Junge had another flirtation with the Oscars in 2008 when his feature, "The Killed Sister Dorothy," was shortlisted for Best Documentary, as was an Original Song from the film by Bebel Gilberto.
Filmmaker Magazine was on to something back in 2002 when they selected Junge in their regular feature "25 New Faces of Independent Film." While based out of Denver, Colorado, Junge first found inspiration for his debut, award-winning documentary "Chiefs," from his home state of Wyoming. The film is about the Wyoming Indian High School basketball team. Since then, the filmmaker has followed through on one award-worthy project after another.
Junge seems in search of stories that reach into the depths of humankind, revealing complex people ensnared in difficult moral and social issues of our day. "They Killed Sister Dorothy" went to the depths of the Amazon Rainforest to explore the unsolved murder of an American nun, Sister Dorothy Mae Stang. "The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner" journeys to the Pacific Northwest, where Gardner implemented his controversial Initiative 1000, which became Washington State's Death with Dignity Act.
With the Oscar-nominated "Saving Face," Junge traveled to Pakistan in the hotbed of global conflict, the Middle East. Again, Junge did not just make a film about the political conflict there -- he found an unusual, provoking, and deeply human story. With "Sister Dorothy," it was the personal story of Dorothy and her brother caught in the larger issue of deforestation. With "The Last Campaign," it was Booth Gardner's personal struggle with Parkinson's disease at the heart of the larger ethics of euthanasia. With "Saving Face," Junge introduces us to plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who used his medical skills on the frontline of a disturbing social problem in Pakistan.
"Saving Face" compiles the stories of several Pakistani women who are victim to severe acid burns. The documentary reveals that there are at least 100 people attacked with acid a year in Pakistan, many of them assaulted by enraged husbands. Dr. Jawad had been practicing plastic surgery in London, becoming well-known for restoring Katie Piper's face after the British model was attacked with acid. He returned to his homeland of Pakistan and saw that his abilities as doctor could be matched by his compassion as a human being.
Junge collaborated on "Saving Face" with Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, an Emmy-winning director from Pakistan. Chinoy and Junge share the nomination and are up against four other hopefuls for Best Documentary Short at the Oscars. The other nominees are "The Barber of Birmingham," "God Is the Bigger Elvis," "Incident in New Baghdad," and "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom."
With the Oscar nod and "Saving Face" making its premiere on HBO in March, Junge reinforces his reputation as a steadily objective and observational documentarian. He doesn't trip up with moralistic, heavy-handed filmmaking intended to beat viewers over the head with a message.
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