The Directors Guild of America nominated two female documentarians, Lauren Greenfield ("The Queen of Versailles") and Alison Klayman ("Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"), among three male directors for outstanding directorial achievement in documentaries for 2012.
Both women were left off the Academy Awards' nomination list for feature documentaries.
Greenfield, whose film about a billionaire couple who lose it all in the real estate crisis, and Klayman, who explores Chinese artist and activist Ai, will compete against Kirby Dick ("The Invisible War"), Malik Bendjelloul ("Searching for Sugar Man") and David France ("How to Survive a Plague").
All five filmmakers are first-time DGA nominees.
Dick's film centers on the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military. The movie, by the documentarian behind 2006's "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," has also been nominated for an Oscar, though it has grossed only $62,000 since opening in theaters in June.
Bendjelloul's lively film "Searching for Sugar Man" chronicles two South Africans' search for their 1970s rock 'n' roll hero Rodriguez. The film is also Oscar nominated and has earned $3 million at the box office.
The four films will compete against France's "How to Survive a Plague," which chronicles two activist groups that helped turn AIDS from a death-sentence pandemic into a condition that can be managed with medications.
"Whether shining a light on sweeping injustice or bringing us along on an intimate journey, the best documentaries challenge and enlighten us," said DGA President Taylor Hackford. "This year's nominees are no exception. The powerful work of these nominated directors is a true testament to the skill and significance of nonfiction storytellers."