The 37th Annual International Documentary Association Awards, streamed online Friday night, capped a big week for nonfiction awards that also included the 15th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, presented live in New York on Wednesday.
Both awards groups honored Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated immigration saga “Flee” (Neon) with their top honors, while the Danish International Feature Oscar contender’s fellow Oscar nominee “Summer of Soul” (Searchlight/Hulu) notched three IDA awards: Rookie filmmaker Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson won for Best Director, Best Music Documentary, and Best Editing. Oscar nominee Jessica Kingdon’s “Ascension,” an observational look at the class structure in China, won three Cinema Eye Honors awards, the most of the evening, for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, Original Score and Debut Feature.
Oscar nominee “Writing with Fire” nabbed the IDA’s Courage Under Fire Award for the India-based directing team Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.
The IDA online ceremony, which was pre-recorded, was hosted by filmmakers Kate Amend, Jerry Henry, Pedro Kos, and Renee Tajima-Peña, with a performance from musician Mehandis Geleto, featured in Best Cinematography winner “Faya Dayi.”
The IDA staged the show amid an ongoing crisis at the nonprofit organization, which IndieWire detailed in an article published Friday morning. Conflict between Executive Director Rick Pérez and staffers prompted a mass exodus that left the organization with five vacant director-level positions on a six person leadership team. Among those who have exited is Cassidy Dimon, the former associate director in charge of events including the Documentary Awards, who quit less than a month ago.
The pre-recorded nature of this year’s ceremony, which went off without a hitch, perhaps insulated the proceedings from that crisis. Pérez referenced the internal conflict midway into the hourlong stream, framing it around the conversations about racial equity taking place on a national scale.
“As an organization, IDA also finds itself at a place of self-reflection where we must explore how we can best serve our community and the larger public and how we can provide greater opportunity and engagement for our staff,” he said. “The work of nonfiction storytellers is more vital than ever, especially in times of transition and uncertainty. As a longtime IDA member and filmmaker, I’m deeply invested in listening, learning, and leading the IDA into a new era. It has thrived for four decades, and it will continue to thrive. So I invite you all to be part of the next four decades by joining me with open hearts and open minds and ongoing conversations to help us build an organization that better reflects the diversity we live in and is equipped to meet the needs of the filmmaking community.”
Rasmussen, whose film “Flee” spotlights the story of a man’s escape from conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s, used his speech to highlight the ongoing unrest in the country that reached a new head last summer after the Taliban took control.
“The situation in Afghanistan right now is really bad. It’s winter and there’s a scarcity of food and necessities,” Rasmussen said. “These people are in a very vulnerable situation. So please remember the people of Afghanistan and please help out any way you can.”
At the Cinema Eye Honors, which returned to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens earlier this week, Rasmussen’s film also took the top prize for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Filmmaking. Filmmaker Robert Greene won the award for Outstanding Direction for “Procession,” about six men undergoing artistic therapy after childhood abuse by Catholic priests. Also winning Best Editing at Cinema Eye was “Summer of Soul,” for Joshua Pearson.
E. Chai Vasarhely and Jimmy Chin took the Audience Choice Prize for “The Rescue,” the third win in the category for the filmmaking duo after “Meru” and “Free Solo.”
Two new awards were presented this year: “The Velvet Underground”’s Leslie Shatz and Jahn Sood won the award for Sound Design, while “Pretend It’s a City,” Martin Scorsese’s series of conversations with Fran Lebowitz, was awarded Outstanding Anthology Series.
Among other Broadcast Honors, awards were given to Nanfu Wang for her HBO documentary “In the Same Breath” (Broadcast Film); Steve James for his National Geographic series “City So Real” (Nonfiction Series); Ellen Kuras for her Cinematography on Spike Lee’s filmed version of “David Byrne’s American Utopia” and Adam Locke-Norton for his Editing on “How to with John Wilson.”
You can read our Best Documentary Oscar Predictions here.
Below, find the full lists of winners from both groups.
“Flee” (Denmark, France, Norway / NEON, Participant. Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen. Producers: Monica Hellstrӧm, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be
Televised)” (USA / Hulu, Searchlight Pictures)
“A Broken House” (USA, Lebanon / Condé Nast Entertainment, The New Yorker, POV. Director/Producer: Jimmy Goldblum. Producer: Matt Weaver, former Representative Richard Gephardt and Harrison Nalevansky)
Best Curated Series
Independent Lens (USA / Independent Lens, PBS. Executive Producers: Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer)
Best Episodic Series
“My Love: Six Stories of True Love” (USA / Netflix. Executive Producer: Mo-young Jin, Andrew Fried, Dane Lillegard and Jordan Wynn)
Best Multi-Part Documentary
“Exterminate All the Brutes” (USA, France / HBO, HBO Max. Director/Executive Producer: Raoul Peck. Producers: Daniel Delume. Executive Producers: Rémi Grellety, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, Jamie Morris, Jack Oliver and Poppy Dixon)
Best Short-Form Series
“Viral Dreams” (Germany, Israel / ZDF Arte. Producer: Georg Tschurtschenthaler. Executive Producers: Christian Beetz)
Best Stand-Alone Audio Documentary
VICE News Reports: “Monaea, A 2020 Diary” (USA / VICE News, iHeartRadio. Reporters: Monaea Upton and Jen Kinney. Producers: Jen Kinne, Ashley Cleek, Adizah Eghan and Adreanna Rodriguez. Executive Producer: Kate Osborn)
Best Multi-Part Audio Documentary or Series
“Suave” from Futuro Studios and PRX (USA / Futuro Studios, PRX. Reporters: Maggie Freleng and Julieta Martinelli. Producers: Maria Hinojosa, Maggie Freleng, Julieta Martinelli, Marlon Bishop, Audrey Quinn and Stephanie Lubow. Executive Producer: Maria Hinojosa)
Best Music Documentary
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (USA / Hulu, Searchlight Pictures. Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Producers: Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent, David Dinerstein)
David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award
“Seahorse” (Germany / Film Academy Baden-Württemberg. Director/Producer: Nele Dehnenkamp. Producer: Christine Duttlinger)
“Faya Dayi” (Ethiopia, USA, Qatar / Janus Films. Cinematographer: Jessica Beshir)
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (USA / Hulu, Searchlight Pictures. Editor: Joshua L. Pearson)
Best Music Score
“Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground” (USA / HBO Max. Composer: Roman GianArthur)
“North By Current” (USA / POV, PBS. Writer: Angelo Madsen Minax)
ABC News Video Source Award
“Whirlybird” (USA / Greenwich Entertainment, A&E IndieFilms. Director: Matt Yoka. Producer: Matt Yoka, Diane Becker)
Pare Lorentz Award
“The First Wave” (USA / National Geographic. Director/Producer: Matthew Heineman. Producers: Jenna Millman and Leslie Norville)
Honorable Mention: “Tigre Gente” (USA. Director/Producer: Elizabeth Unger. Producer: Joanna Natasegara)
Career Achievement Award
Roger Ross Williams
Truth to Power Award
Courage Under Fire Award
Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (“Writing with Fire”)
Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award
All winners, nominees, honorees are available here.
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
“Flee” (Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen, produced by Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie)
Outstanding Achievement in Direction
Robert Greene, “Procession”
Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Joshua Pearson, “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Jessica Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell, “Ascension”
Outstanding Achievement in Production
Matthew Heineman, Jenna Millman and Leslie Norville, “The First Wave”
Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score
Dan Deacon, “Ascension”
Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design
Leslie Shatz and Jahn Sood, “The Velvet Underground”
Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation
Kenneth Ladekjær and Jess Nicholls for “Flee”
Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film
“Ascension,” directed by Jessica Kingdon
Audience Choice Prize
“The Rescue,” directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Film for Broadcast
“In the Same Breath,” directed by Nanfu Wang (HBO)
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Series
“City So Real,” directed by Steve James (National Geographic)
Outstanding Achievement in Anthology Series
“Pretend It’s a City,” Martin Scorsese, Fran Lebowitz, David Tedeschi, Ted Griffin, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Joshua Porter, and Margaret Bodde (Netflix)
Outstanding Achievement in Editing in a Nonfiction Film or Series for Broadcast
Adam Locke-Norton, “How to with John Wilson” (HBO)
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in a Nonfiction Film or Series for Broadcast
Ellen Kuras, “David Byrne’s American Utopia” (HBO)
“North by Current,” directed by Angelo Minax Madsen
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking
“Three Songs for Benezir,” directed by Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei
“El Planeta,” directed by Amalia Ulman