Algorithms documentary has qualified for an Academy Award for Best Documentary

From the Press Release

ALGORITHMS, the acclaimed documentary about the world of Blind Chess directed by Ian McDonald, has officially qualified for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. The film, which recently completed a theatrical run in NYC, LA, and London has received critical acclaim, festival plaudits and has brought audiences to their feet all over the world.

Chess is an ancient and universal game with origins in India. Filmed over three years in different parts of India, ALGORITHMS follows three boys and an adult champion who not only aspires to bring global recognition to India’s blind chess players, but also wants to encourage all blind children to play chess.

The filmmakers travel with the players to competitive tournaments, including the World Junior Blind Chess Championship. They also film them in their home milieu where they reveal their struggles, anxieties and hopes. Moving through the algorithms of the blind chess world, the film is a tactile and mindful journey that challenges the notion of what it means to “see.”

Director Ian McDonald said, “Algorithms allowed me to explore profound issues about eyesight and foresight, about touch and tactility, about ability and disability, through the very particular world of these young blind chess players in a particular aesthetic visual style. In making the film I consciously steered clear of the formulaic ‘triumph over adversity’ sport docs or the genius but freaky kids narrative.”

Producer Geetha J commented, “For an independent documentary from India to be recognized worldwide is a triumph of the subject – the blind chess community that desires and deserves visibility – as well as a triumph of all the hard work the team has put into it the past six years.”

The Guardian awarded the film 4 stars and declared it “a winning documentary that develops into a story as intense and focused as [McDonald’s] subjects…ALGORITHMS is never too sentimental, nor simplistic, and it moves confidently with its charges toward a stirring endgame.” The Village Voice hailed it as “soulful” and “deeply moving,” and the Los Angeles Times called ALGORITHMS a “moving insight into the world of blind teen chess players.”

ALGORITHMS had a long, successful journey on the festival circuit prior to its release last month, and received numerous prizes along the way, including the Best Film Trophy at Film South Asia in October of 2013, and the Best Editing Award at the Mumbai International Film Festival in February of 2014.

Academy Award winner A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) called ALGORITHMS “inspiring,” and described it as “a true work of passion that, to me, expresses the cinematic beauty and power of documentary.” Laurence Kardish, the former curator of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, hailed it as a “stunning” work, and “an exceptional experience detailing carefully and movingly, the impossible.”

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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