"O.J.: Made in America," a nearly eight-hour documentary by filmmakers Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow, won the Academy Award for best documentary feature Sunday night at the 89th Academy Awards, bringing ESPN Films its first Oscar.
The film, part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series, told the story of Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson, but was also a cultural look into race, celebrity, media and the criminal justice system in America.
At seven hours and 47 minutes, "O.J.: Made in America" is the longest film to win an Academy Award, eclipsing the 1969 Best Foreign Language Film winner "War and Peace'' (431 minutes).
In his acceptance speech, Edelman paid tribute to Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, who were brutally murdered in June 1994.
O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the murders in his 1995 criminal trial, but he was later found liable in a civil trial.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival just over a year ago and had a theatrical run that qualified for an Oscar. The film then aired in June on ABC and ESPN as a five-part, eight-hour series.
"I am so proud that 'Academy Award-winning' is now the latest accolade for ESPN Films," said ESPN president John Skipper. "I have often remarked on the incredible work that the ESPN Films group does and how they have grown 30 for 30 into one of our company's most beloved brands. What started as a celebration of ESPN's 30th anniversary has evolved into a series that consistently brings to life some of sports' most compelling stories and helps our fans look at them with fresh eyes.
"The breadth of the O.J. Simpson story captured by this film is astounding, and even those who thought they were familiar with this saga learned something new."
ESPN Films senior vice president and 30 for 30 co-creator Connor Schell has said his team did not set out looking to make an Oscar-worthy movie.
"We never really considered what the awards strategy would be," Schell recently told Variety. "It was always like, 'Can we make something meaningful and powerful and relevant that people will talk about?' The fact that a year after we premiered it at Sundance people still want to talk about it and recognize Ezra for what he created ... that's what you dream of when you set out to tell a story."
"O.J.: Made In America" will be shown for five straight nights, starting Monday, from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. ET on ESPN2. It will also air uninterrupted from 1-9 a.m. ET on Saturday on ESPN2. The documentary is also available at any time on WatchESPN.