Oscars: ‘Voyage of Time’ Faces Challenge in Treating Voters to ‘IMAX Experience’

Kristopher Tapley

If Terrence Malick’s “Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience” manages enough traction for a documentary feature Oscar nomination, it would become just the third IMAX film to draw a notice from the Academy. But voters have to find their way to it first.

The film opened on Oct. 7 and has outperformed a number of previous IMAX documentaries in certain key markets, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not have access to an IMAX theater, making it difficult for the campaign to reach voters with the intended theatrical experience. That’s a conundrum shared by many filmmakers who would rather their work not be diminished by a screener copy, but the immersive nature of Malick’s film makes it a special case.

To help solve the problem (and no doubt to stand out in the increasing glut of documentary filmmaking up for appraisal), IMAX has set a series of screenings at its Playa Vista headquarters on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, four on each day.

A collection of footage gathered over 40 years from all over the world, the 45-minute feature takes viewers on a journey through the history of the universe. A longer version, titled “Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey,” premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September and will release in select international markets next year.

Less a straight-forward documentary than an avant garde visual exploration, “Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience” is too long for the documentary short category, but it does qualify in the feature field.

“Fires of Kuwait” in 1993 and the short “Amazon” in 1998 are, to date, the only IMAX documentaries to receive Academy recognition.

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