Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @DocSoupMan.

Doc Soup: Music of ‘The Betrayal’

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You’ve heard me talk about it before, but, finally, Ellen KurasThe Betrayal is making it to the public this Friday, at the IFC Film Center so forgive me if I have little more to say. The movie, 23 years in the making, is about a Laotian immigrant family’s experience in America; after its opening in Manhattan, it will then roll out to Brooklyn and then to points west in January. You’ll also get to see it on PBS, thanks to POV, next summer. I’ve told you about how poetic and lyrical the film is, thanks to Kuras’ incredible skills with the camera (her day job is director of photography for the likes of Spike Lee, Michel Gondry, Sam Mendes and other greats). The Betrayal: NerakhoonAnd I’ve talked about how dramatically moving it is (I defy anyone to sit through it without shedding a tear). But I recently learned from Kuras that there is something else to add about this powerful doc: the music.
Through her relationship with Thelma Schoonmaker, the revered editor for Martin Scorsese‘s films (Kuras has also worked with Marty), Kuras showed the doc to three-time Oscar winner Howard Shore. If you’ve been in a movie theater, you’ve heard Shore’s music before — he composed for the Lord of the Rings triliogy, a bunch of Scorsese films, Philadelphia and The Silence of the Lambs, among many others. He’s the definition of top-notch. And his work on The Betrayal is equally impressive, and well, Oscar-worthy. So, ahem, shouldn’t his work on The Betrayal be considered for the best musical score Oscar? But, wait, has a doc’s score ever been nominated? Not from what I can see. Is there a rule against it? Why would there be? Could this be the first?

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki