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Movie Story of Desmond Doss, Adventist Medal of Honor Recipient, Gets Six Oscar Nominations

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‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ showing a ‘conscientious cooperator,’ draws votes for Best Picture, Actor and Director, among others

“Hacksaw Ridge,” the 2016 film drama telling the story of Desmond T. Doss, Sr., the first conscientious objector to receive the United States of America’s highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, has been nominated for a total of six Academy Awards, known as “Oscars,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said January 24.

He refused to carry a weapon, citing the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist from Lynchburg, Virginia, volunteered to serve in the United States Army during World War II as a medic. He refused to carry a weapon, citing the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” For that stance, he earned the derision of his comrades and was nearly court-martialed. But Doss won the right to serve as “conscientious cooperator,” and later, without firing a shot, saved 75 lives on a hilltop in Okinawa, Japan. For that bravery, he was presented with the Medal of Honor by then-President Harry Truman.

Doss for many years was congregant in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference and shared his story with young Adventists, particularly Pathfinders, a group in which Doss learned knot-tying skills that helped him save lives. Doss passed to his rest at age 87 in 2006, after “The Conscientious Objector,” a documentary by fellow Adventist Terry Benedict, was released to wide acclaim.

Along with a Best Picture nomination, the film’s major award nominations include Best Actor for Andrew Garfield, who portrayed Doss, and Best Director, for Mel Gibson. An actor and filmmaker whose life saw personal issues in the past decade that ostracized him from many in Hollywood, Gibson’s nomination — his first since 2004’s “The Passion of the Christ” — was seen as a sign of redemption in the industry.

The Associated Press said Gibson’s “unexpected” nomination was a “strong boost of support for Mel Gibson, who had long been shunned in Hollywood” because of an incident in which he spouted anti-Semitic words to a police officer. Gibson has since apologized for the comments.

“Hacksaw Ridge” was also nominated for three Academy Awards in more technical categories: Best Film Editing; Best Sound Editing; Best Sound Mixing.

The six nominations for “Hacksaw Ridge,” a film that took years to find a producer and then the screen, were dwarfed by the 14 nominations given movie musical “La La Land,” an homage to Hollywood’s golden era.

The film’s Oscar nominations are not the first industry honors for the drama. “Hacksaw Ridge” was nominated for three Golden Globe awards, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association earlier this month, but did not win its categories. It did receive two Critic’s Choice awards, for “Best Action Movie,” while Garfield won for “Best Actor in an Action Movie.” The Australian Academy of Cinema Television Arts gave the film five awards, including “Best Picture.” Much of the film was shot in Australia, where Gibson’s family moved when he was 12.

The 89th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor the best films of 2016 and will be held Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The awards presentation will be broadcast globally.


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