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New York’s Oscar Party

Report - February 2012

New York’s Oscar Party

This edition of New York by the Numbers reveals that when it comes to documentary films, NYC-based directors and producers are always in the spotlight at the Academy Awards.

by Ada Welch, Jonathan Bowles and Lucia Candu

Tags: economic growth creative economy

This is an excerpt. Click here to read the full report (PDF).


The Academy Awards ceremony is more often than not a showcase for Hollywood’s film industry. But year after year, New York City—not Hollywood—is the unrivaled star performer in one key Oscar category: documentary film.

Of the 76 films nominated in the two documentary film categories (Short and Feature) between 2005 and 2012, 32 had a New York City-based director, and 35 had a producer based in the Big Apple. In contrast, the Los Angeles area was home to just 15 producers and 14 directors that were nominated for an Oscar during this period. The San Francisco Bay Area had 6 nominated producers and 8 directors.

This year, New York directors claim 5 out of the 10 documentary nominations (three in Documentary Feature and two in Documentary Short). Meanwhile, 4 of the 10 films nominated this year had New York-based producers (two in each category).

In some years, New York is virtually a shoo-in for the golden statuette. Last year, for instance, all but one of the Documentary Short films nominated were directed and produced by New Yorkers. Even in years when the odds were not as good, New York has cleaned up. Directors from the five boroughs have taken home 7 of the 14 Oscars given out for documentary films between 2005 and 2011. New York producers have won 10 of 14.