"It was not something I planned or set out to do," Moss said. "Teaching is a lot more about not knowing than knowing. It is about giving students the freedom to find out what filmmaker they want to be."
Rowley directed the nominated film "Dirty Wars" — based on the book by the same name by
Noujaim, who graduated with Oppenheimer in 1997, directed "The Square," a detailed depiction of the Egyptian revolution from start to finish.
Noujaim won the
Last week, "The Act of Killing" won the London Critics' Circle Film Award for best documentary, a category added in 2011. No previous winners of the
Nominated with the
Last month, "20 Feet From Stardom" won the 2014 Critics' Choice Award for best documentary feature — putting it in good standing for the Oscars, too. Three of the five past winners of the Critics' Choice also claimed an Oscar the year they won.
Moss, who is in his early 60s, is known in film circles for his 2008 film "Secrecy," and his 2003 film "The Same River Twice," both of which premiered at the
"Moss is not just a professor but also makes beautiful films," said Noujaim.
Rowley said that although
"We lived down the hall from each other, cooked meals together and argued back and forth about films," said Rowley. "It is remarkable that our careers have evolved in parallel while still being thousands of miles apart."
Oppenheimer was also inspired by Moss. He said professors like Moss and film professor Dusan Makavejev encouraged students to discover their vision, whatever it may be.
"I learned at
"Josh was intrigued with the world and the complexity of it even when he was an undergraduate," Moss said. "He was widely imaginative, the opposite of orthodox," and that shone in his nominated film, he said.
Noujaim, who was originally in the pre-medical program at
"What happened at
Noujaim, said Moss, "has the fearless ability to find subjects."
"People trust her and respond to her and that allows her to get deeper into the world she is filming," he said.
Another Moss protege and recent graduate,
And Moss continues to influence aspiring directors today.
"He shaped the way I look through a camera," said McLaughlin-Norton, who has taken three classes with him and is his advisee. "I think of him every time I shoot."
Moss, who will watch the Oscars anxiously from home, would not venture to suggest who will win.
"Who wins doesn't matter," he said. "Their work is so wonderful that winning an Academy will not change that."
The Oscars, hosted by
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