By Dylan Butler
Danny Jacob was still in a sleepy daze when his grandmother Erslena Jacob woke him with the news.
On the phone was Murray Nossel, co-director and producer of “Why Can’t We Be a Family Again?” a documentary about Danny and his brother Raymond’s haunting tale of wanting to be reunited with their crack-addicted mother, “Kitten.”
“He said your movie was nominated for an Academy Award as one of the best in the world,” Danny said. “I thought, wow, I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t realize how big it is.”
The 27-minute film, which is nominated in the Documentary Short Subject category, was shot over two years primarily in Sunset Park, where the boys lived with their grandmother before moving to Richmond Hill.
But the film almost never got off the ground.
After Danny met Nossel at the Center for Family Life, where the then 15-year-old served as a counselor, Nossel called Erslena Jacob to pitch the movie idea.
“When he got home, I said, ‘What did you get us into,” she said in a telephone interview last week. “I’m not proud of the way my daughter turned out.”
But after meeting with Nossel, Erslena Jacob warmed to the idea and let the cameras roll through some extremely emotional moments.
The family, including the boys’ mother, flew to Napa, Calif. to attend the Wine Country Film Festival in July. It was the first time they watched the film with a live audience and fielded questions afterwards.
“The questions they asked were unbelievable and the support you got to keep striving was real good,” Danny said. “From that moment on, I knew the movie was going to have an impact.”
Added their grandmother: “To see the people’s expressions, it was very shocking. To see them get so emotional; to see men crying, I didn’t expect to see people so moved.”
And as if things couldn’t get better for the Jacobs, plans are in the works to fly the family to Los Angeles to attend the Academy Awards ceremony March 23. Roger Weisberg, the film’s co-director and producer, obtained tickets and the Administration for Children Services is working on finding a sponsor to pay their way out there.
“I was going to throw a big Oscar party. If we can’t be there, we’re going to bring it to us and we’ll watch it,” Danny said. “But now we’re going out there. We’re going to be on that red carpet. I can’t wait.”