When it comes to the politics surrounding Oscar acceptance-speech length, there's no denying that a double standard exists. While Julia Roberts is allowed to thank every second cousin twice removed, Joe Nobody — fresh off his win for best animated short — can barely squeeze in a shout-out to his dying grandma. Of course, let's face it: That's exactly the way it should be.
Even Justine Shapiro and B.Z. Goldberg, the relative unknown co-directors behind this year's Oscar-nominated documentary feature, Promises, admit they understand the celebrity bias. As a result, should they emerge victorious come March 24, they won't be exceeding their 40-second allotment. "We're going to keep the thank-yous to a minimum," chuckles Goldberg. Adds Shapiro, whose husband, Carlos Bolado, also worked on the movie: "We never thought anyone would see this film apart from our family and friends, so finding out we were nominated was just amazing."
Given the project's timely subject matter — it examines the Middle East conflict through the eyes of seven Palestinian and Israeli children — Promises (opening Friday in New York and Boston) has emerged as the odds-on favorite. In the event of a gold rush, Shapiro and Goldberg are toying with the idea of bringing one of the young people at the heart of the film up to the dais with them. "We feel that would be a strong message to the world," says Goldberg.It would also serve as a fitting tribute to the kids, whose commitment during the three-year shoot never wavered. "Palestinians and Israelis love to talk," explains Goldberg. Adds Shapiro: "They knew we were in it for the long haul. They sensed that very fast."