Six films in the running for most of this year’s major Academy Awards are coming to our screens in the span of just three weeks. While a wave of Oscar heavyweights at this time of year is to be expected, it is unusual that of the half-dozen, only one – the star-studded ensemble drama August: Osage County – is not based on a true story. Although American Hustle ’s opening title card actually states that only “some of this actually happened”, it is still based on a real-life event, featuring characters modelled on real-life people, just like The Wolf of Wall Street , Philomena , Dallas Buyers Club , and 12 Years a Slave . Considering that two other films showing in Hong Kong this month, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and The Monuments Men , are also based on true stories, it’s difficult to ignore the trend. Of course, it’s not as if filmmakers hadn’t looked to real life for inspiration before. In recent years, Hong Kong alone has produced films like A Simple Life and Bruce Lee, My Brother . This year’s Hong Kong Film Awards best actor nominees include two actors who portrayed real-life wing chun master Ip Man. Last year’s best picture Oscar triumph Argo , Ben Affleck’s thriller about the real-life CIA rescue of US embassy staffers from Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, probably made many other filmmakers realise that truth can be more emotionally powerful than fiction. Hollywood can be criticised for embellishment of real-life stories, but not so this year with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Some aspects of protagonist Solomon Northup’s story were reportedly toned down to make it more believable. Still, that the film hired eminent Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates as its historical consultant does confer credibility on the harrowing tale that was first told in a memoir by Northup in 1853.