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'Three Identical Strangers' makes Oscar shortlist for best documentary

Robert Shafran, left, David Kellman and the late

Robert Shafran, left, David Kellman and the late Edward Galland are the subjects of the documentary "Three Identical Strangers." Credit: Newsday

A documentary about Long Island triplets could become a contender at the 2019 Oscars.

The film, “Three Identical Strangers,” has made it to the shortlist of 15 films that are now eligible for the Oscar for best documentary feature. The list was announced Monday evening by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Three Identical Strangers,” directed by Tim Wardle, tells the story of Edward Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran, identical triplets born in 1961 at what was then Long Island Jewish Hospital (now Long Island Jewish Medical Center) in New Hyde Park. The brothers were separated at birth and adopted by different families but, in their late teens, learned of each other’s existence. Their story, covered by Newsday, initially struck the public as a heartwarming tale of familial reunion. Later, the triplets discovered they had been part of a secret behavioral study, and that their adoptive families had never been told of the others’ existence.

Wardle’s film was one of several documentaries this year with strong Long Island ties, including “Science Fair,” co-directed by Island Park native Darren Foster, and “The Last Race,” a portrait of the auto-racing venue Riverhead Raceway directed by Bellmore-raised Michael Dweck.

“Three Identical Strangers” can boast of being chosen as a finalist from the pool of 166 documentaries that were initially submitted to the Academy, but the movie still has an uphill climb to reach Oscar night. The 15-film shortlist features many well-reviewed competitors, including Morgan Neville’s film about Fred Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, and the rock-climbing documentary “Free Solo.” Oscar voters will cast their ballots for the final five films between Jan. 7 and 14. The Academy will announce the nominees on Jan. 22.

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