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Box-Office Hits ‘Biggest Little Farm’ and ‘Apollo 11′ Top Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Nominations

With a wide field, early documentary award nominations are influential heading into awards season.

“The Biggest Little Farm”

Neon

Leading this year’s batch of Critics Choice Association nominees for the fourth annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are two Neon box-office hits, “The Biggest Little Farm” with seven nominations and “Apollo 11” with six, as well as Warner Bros.’ smash “They Shall Not Grow Old” with six.

The winners will accept their awards honoring achievement in documentaries (TV, film, and streaming) on Sunday, November 10, at BRIC in Brooklyn, New York. Qualified Critics Choice Association members across the country voted for these nominees (including this writer).

With the most nominations in the field, John Chester’s “The Biggest Little Farm” was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Narration, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

Todd Douglas Miller’s “Apollo 11” was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Science/Nature Documentary. Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old” was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Archival Documentary, and Most Innovative Documentary.

Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s “One Child Nation” (Amazon) received five nominations, including Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Narration, and Best Political Documentary.

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The five nominations for Feras Fayyad’s “The Cave” are Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Score, and Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary for Dr. Amani Ballor.

Recognized with four nominations each are NatGeo’s”Sea of Shadows,” Neon’s “Honeyland,” Showtime’s “The Kingmaker,” Netflix’s “American Factory,” and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Aquarela.”

The nominations for Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s “Honeyland” are Best Documentary, Best Cinematography, Best First Documentary Feature, Best Science/Nature Documentary, and Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary for Macedonian beekeeper Hatidze Muratova.

Honeyland

“Honeyland”

NEON

The nominations for Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s “American Factory” are Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Political Documentary.

The nominations for “Aquarela” are Best Cinematography, Best Score, Best Science/Nature Documentary, and Most Innovative Documentary.

The nominations for “Sea of Shadows” are Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

At the gala ceremony, the newly named D A Pennebaker Award will go to legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman, director of 43 films, primarily focused on American institutions, and winner of four Emmys and an Honorary Oscar. The former Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award is named for previous winner Pennebaker, who passed away this summer. It will be presented by filmmaker Chris Hegedus, Pennebaker’s long-time collaborator and widow.

The Landmark Award will go to Michael Apted for his groundbreaking “Up” documentary series following the lives of 14 Britons since the age of seven in seven year increments, from “Seven Up” through “63 Up” (BritBox). Since the 1960s, Apted has directed both features and documentaries including “Gorillas in the Mist,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Gorky Park,” “The World is Not Enough,” “Amazing Grace,” “Incident at Oglala,” and the third installment of C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

At last year’s third annual CCDA event, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” took home the evening’s most prestigious award for Best Documentary as well as the Best Director award for Morgan Neville. Eventual Oscar-winner “Free Solo” won the awards for Best Sports Documentary, Most Innovative Documentary, and Best Cinematography.

“We are proud that our awards event has become a valuable way to help people ‘find the good stuff’ and to help filmmakers find their audiences,” said Joey Berlin, CCA CEO.

The nominees for the fourth annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are:

“Aquarela”

Sony Pictures Classics

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“American Factory” (Netflix)
“Apollo 11” (Neon)
“The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)
“The Cave” (National Geographic)
“Honeyland” (Neon)
“The Kingmaker” (Showtime)
“Knock Down the House” (Netflix)
“Leaving Neverland” (HBO)
“Maiden” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“One Child Nation” (Amazon Studios)
“They Shall Not Grow Old” (Warner Bros.)

BEST DIRECTOR

Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, “For Sama” (PBS)
Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, “American Factory” (Netflix)
John Chester, “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)
Feras Fayyad, “The Cave” (National Geographic)
Peter Jackson, “They Shall Not Grow Old” (Warner Bros.)
Todd Douglas Miller, “Apollo 11” (Neon)
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, “One Child Nation” (Amazon Studios)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Ben Bernhard and Viktor Kossakovsky, “Aquarela” (Sony Pictures Classics)
John Chester, “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)
Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma, “Honeyland” (Neon)
Nicholas de Pencier, “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” (Kino Lorber)
Muhammed Khair Al Shami, Ammar Suleiman, and Mohammad Eyad, “The Cave” (National Geographic)
Richard Ladkani, “Sea of Shadows” (National Geographic)

BEST EDITING

Georg Michael Fischer and Verena Schönauer, “Sea of Shadows” (National Geographic)
Todd Douglas Miller, “Apollo 11” (Neon)
Jabez Olssen, “They Shall Not Grow Old” (Warner Bros.)
Amy Overbeck, “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)
Lindsay Utz, “American Factory” (Netflix)
Nanfu Wang, “One Child Nation” (Amazon Studios)

BEST SCORE

Jeff Beal, “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)
Matthew Herbert, “The Cave” (National Geographic)
Matt Morton, “Apollo 11” (Neon)
Plan 9, “They Shall Not Grow Old” (Warner Bros.)
H. Scott Salinas, “Sea of Shadows” (National Geographic)
Eicca Toppinen, “Aquarela” (Sony Pictures Classics)

BEST NARRATION

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” (Kino Lorber)
Alicia Vikander, narrator
Jennifer Baichwal, writer
“The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)
John Chester and Molly Chester, narrators
John Chester, writer
“The Edge of Democracy” (Netflix)
Petra Costa, narrator
Petra Costa, Carol Pires, David Barker and Moara Passoni, writers
“The Elephant Queen” (Apple)
Chiwetel Ejiofor, narrator
Mark Deeble, writer
“For Sama” (PBS)
Waad Al-Kateab, narrator
Waad Al-Kateab, writer
“Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People” (First Run)
Adam Driver, narrator
Oren Rudavsky and Bob Seidman, writers
“One Child Nation” (Amazon Studios)
Nanfu Wang, narrator
Nanfu Wang, writer
“Western Stars” (Warner Bros.)
Bruce Springsteen, narrator
Bruce Springsteen, writer

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Midge Costin, “Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” (Matson Films)
A.J. Eaton, David Crosby: “Remember My Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Pamela B. Green, “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché” (Kino Lorber/Zeitgeist Films)
Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, “Honeyland” (Neon)
Richard Miron, “For the Birds” (Dogwoof)
Garret Price, “Love, Antosha” (Lurker Films)

"Amazing Grace"

“Amazing Grace”

Neon

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY

“Amazing Grace” (Neon)
“Apollo 11” (Neon)
“Maiden” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Mike Wallace is Here” (Magnolia)
“Pavarotti” (CBS Films)
“Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story” by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
“They Shall Not Grow Old” (Warner Bros.)
“What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” (HBO)

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY

“David Crosby: Remember My Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“The Kingmaker” (Showtime)
“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” (Greenwich)
“Love, Antosha” (Lurker Films)
“Mike Wallace is Here” (Magnolia)
“Pavarotti” (CBS Films)
“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” (Magnolia)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

“Amazing Grace” (Neon)
“David Crosby: Remember My Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” (Greenwich)
“Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” (Abramorama)
“Pavarotti” (CBS Films)
“Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese” (Netflix)
“Western Stars” (Warner Bros.)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY

“American Factory” (Netflix)
“The Edge of Democracy” (Netflix)
“Hail Satan?” (Magnolia)
“The Kingmaker” (Showtime)
“Knock Down the House” (Netflix)
“One Child Nation” (Amazon Studios)

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” (Kino Lorber)
“Apollo 11” (Neon)
“Aquarela” (Sony Pictures Classic)
“The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)
“The Elephant Queen” (Apple)
“Honeyland” (Neon)
“Penguins” (Disney)
“Sea of Shadows” (National Geographic)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY

“Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable” (Entertainment Studios)
“Diego Maradona” (HBO)
“Maiden” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Rodman: For Better or Worse” (ESPN)
“The Spy Behind Home Plate” (Ciesla Foundation)
“What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” (HBO)

MOST INNOVATIVE DOCUMENTARY

“Aquarela” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Cold Case Hammarskjöld” (Magnolia)
“Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story” by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
“Screwball” (Greenwich)
“Serendipity” (Cohen Media)
“They Shall Not Grow Old” (Warner Bros.)

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

“The Chapel at the Border” (Atlantic Documentaries)
(Director and Producer: Jeremy Raff)
“Death Row Doctor” (The New York Times Op-Docs)
(Director: Lauren Knapp)
“In the Absence” (Field of Vision)
(Director: Yi Seung-Jun. Producer: Gary Byung-Seok Kam)
“Lost World”
(Director and Producer: Kalyanee Mam. Producers: Adam Loften and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee)
“Mack Wrestles” (ESPN)
(Directors and Producers: Taylor Hess and Erin Sanger. Producers: Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby)
“Period. End of Sentence.” (Netflix)
(Director: Rayka Zehtabchi. Producers: Melissa Berton, Garrett K. Schiff and Lisa Taback)
“The Polaroid Job” (The New York Times Op-Docs)
(Director: Mike Plante)
“Sam and the Plant Next Door” (The Guardian)
(Director and Producer: Ömer Sami)
“The Unconditional”
(Director and Producer: Dave Adams. Producers: Adam Soltis, Renee Woodruff Adams, Josie Swantek Heitz, and Chris Tuss)
“The Waiting Room” (The Guardian)
(Director and Producer: Victoria Mapplebeck)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS OF A DOCUMENTARY

Dr. Amani Ballor – “The Cave” (National Geographic)
David Crosby – “David Crosby: Remember My Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Tracy Edwards – “Maiden” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Imelda Marcos – “The Kingmaker” (Showtime)
Hatidze Muratova – “Honeyland” (Neon)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin – “Knock Down the House” (Netflix)
Linda Ronstadt – “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” (Greenwich)
Dr. Ruth Westheimer – “Ask Dr. Ruth” (Hulu)

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