The Secret Land. 1948. USA. Produced by Orville O. Dull

Oscar’s Docs, the annual collaboration between the Academy Film Archive and the Department of Film, explores the evolution of documentary filmmaking through the mid-20th century. The postwar period ushered in an era of optimism that spawned an interest in exploration and adventure. Short-subject documentarians delved into the origins and aftermath of war and the promise of regeneration through the youth of the world. Studios such as MGM, Columbia, and RKO, as well as innovative producers like Walt Disney and Jacques-Yves Cousteau, embraced the natural world as an enormous new canvas for heroic exploration. Much of the documentary filmmaking from this period can now be recognized as the inspiration for the “true-life” adventures that are omnipresent on TV screens today.

Organized by Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Ed Carter, Documentary Curator, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Screenings by arrangement with and thanks to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation; The Kon-Tiki Museum; The March of Times from the HBO Archives (hboarchives.com/themarchoftime); Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; and Warner Bros.

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