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Gore may cap hot year with "Inconvenient" Oscar

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - Al Gore narrowly missed becoming president of the United States, but Hollywood may anoint him “King of the Greens” on Sunday with an Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth,” the documentary about his slideshow on global warming.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks at the State of the Valley Conference in San Jose, California, in a file photo from February 2, 2007. Hollywood may anoint Gore "King of the Greens" on Sunday with an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary about his slideshow on global warming. REUTERS/Kimberly White

The film is favored to win best documentary feature after Gore’s message of impending climate crisis resounded among Hollywood celebrities and at the box office.

As the third-highest grossing documentary of its kind, it has earned $45 million worldwide, sold 1 million DVDs and is widely credited for helping shift U.S. public opinion on global warming.

“When we started, we thought we were just making a film about a slideshow with a former politician,” said director Davis Guggenheim. “Then we took it to Sundance (Film Festival) and showed it and suddenly realized we made a film with a rock star.”

Gore chafes at all the Oscar hype and the praise lavished upon him, reminding all that the Academy Award would go to Guggenheim and the producers, not to him.

“I don’t want to jinx that whole deal by talking about it. I just hope the best for them,” the former vice president and presidential candidate in 2000 said last week.

Guggenheim said he hopes he can convince Gore to come up on stage if the film wins on Sunday.

Gore may also feel uncomfortable with the film beating four other critically acclaimed documentaries in what has been called a stellar year for the format.

“There were 15 nominees in the documentary category shortlist, which is more than usual,” said Sandra Ruch, executive director of the International Documentary Association.

FOUR ACCLAIMED COMPETITORS

The other four films also address timely and turbulent topics in America: two are about Iraq, one about a pedophile priest in the Roman Catholic Church and one about a camp where Christian values are drilled into children.

“Iraq in Fragments” is three stories of life in Iraq after the U.S. invasion in 2003. Director James Longley, working at great risk to his personal safety, shows a country pulled in different directions by religion and ethnicity. The movie is shown and told only through the eyes and words of Iraqis.

“It is important for people to have the connection with human beings in Iraq, not just the statistics and numbers,” said Longley.

In “My Country, My Country,” Laura Poitras also had rare access to Iraqis. A doctor she met at Abu Ghraib prison invited her into his home and allowed her to witness the agony of one man caught in the contradictions of the U.S. occupation.

Amy Berg was nominated for “Deliver Us From Evil,” a disturbing documentary about an Irish pedophile priest in Northern California who continued to abuse children over the years as the Roman Catholic hierarchy transferred him among parishes while knowing of his problems.

The priest, now living in Ireland, agreed to appear on camera after five months and displays a chilling lack of remorse about the abuse. It has put church officials like Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney on the defensive.

“The film does not go after the religion, it goes after the way the church handled child abuse, how they protected the pedophile over the child over and over again,” said Berg.

“Jesus Camp” by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady also gives extraordinary insight into the evangelical Christian movement’s determination to inculcate its values into children.

“The films this year are amazing, they speak to a lot of issues Americans want to talk about,” said Ewing.

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