The International Documentary Association’s annual awards is usually a bustling get-together for the film and television non-fiction community. The 36th iteration was the usual pandemic-era virtual version, sans networking, but with returning host Willie Garson. “This past year has not been normal in any way,” said outgoing IDA executive director Simon Kilmurry. “If 2020/2021 has shown us anything, it’s that even with all the challenges we face and the grief we’ve had, the work of storytellers is essential.”
At the end of the streamlined affair, Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht’s “Crip Camp” (Netflix) took home both the Best Feature Award and ABC News VideoSource Award. “It’s one of the major civil rights stories of American history that had been forgotten,” said Newnham.
LeBrecht thanked Sundance for its support, as well as Camp Jened, he said: “My life set a course when I went there. You are all responsible, and so much a part of this award. I also want to credit the decades of time people in the disability justice movement have put in; they put their lives on the line for everybody.”
This will give “Crip Camp” and the other winners a boost on the road to Oscar nominations.
Netflix had a good night with eight wins and an honorable mention, as “Dick Johnson Is Dead” also won two awards for Best Writing and Best Editing; “My Octopus Teacher” won both Best Music Score and the Pare Lorentz Award; “John Was Trying to Contact Aliens,” directed and produced by Matthew Killip, collected the award for Best Short, and Oakland-based “Last Chance U” won Best Episodic Series for its fifth and final season.
Johnson used photos and cutouts including her father Dick and Buster Keaton to help her say thanks. “This picture is a celebration of those who lift us up,” she said. “I wish to honor the loss and pain of others… Writing this film nearly made my heart explode. I got to do it for love and that’s what heartbreak does, you have to laugh about it.”
Also winning two awards was Garrett Bradley, for Best Director and the already-announced honorary Emerging Documentary Filmmaker for “Time” (Amazon). Bradley thanked Concordia, Sundance for its non-fiction lab support, distributor Amazon, her editor Gabe Rhodes, and her subjects, “Fox and Rob and the Richardson family, for bringing their story of love which surpasses all time and space to the world.”
Honorary Awards were presented prior to the ceremony. Firelight Media collected the Pioneer Award for its extraordinary support of BIPOC filmmakers. IDA’s Courage Under Fire Award, which recognizes extraordinary courage in pursuit of the truth, went to director David France and the activists featured in his film “Welcome to Chechnya” (HBO). The Career Achievement Award was presented to veteran Academy Award-winning editor, director and producer Sam Pollard (“MLK/FBI”). Intrepid Maria Ressa and her Rappler news team, documented in Ramona Diaz’s film “A Thousand Cuts,” earned the Truth to Power Award. And the Amicus Award went to award-winning producer Regina K. Scully, who has supported over 200 films.
The full list of winners, as well as the already announced honorary awards, is below.
Best Feature “Crip Camp” (USA / Netflix. Directors and Producers: Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht. Producer: Sara Bolder)
Best Director Garrett Bradley “Time” (USA / Amazon Studios, Concordia Studio, The New York Times)
Best Short “John Was Trying to Contact Aliens” (USA / Netflix. Director and Producer: Matthew Killip)
Best Curated Series “American Experience” (USA / PBS. Executive Producers: Susan Bellows and Mark Samels)
Best Episodic Series “Last Chance U” (USA / Netflix. Director and Executive Producer: Greg Whiteley. Executive Producers: Joe LaBracio, James D. Stern, Lucas Smith, Andrew Fried, Dane Lillegard)
Best Multi-Part Documentary “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” (USA / HBO. Directors and Executive Producers: Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, Joshua Bennett, Jeff Dupre. Executive Producers: John Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorious, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller)
Best Short Form Series “POV Shorts” (USA / PBS. Producer: Opal H. Bennett. Executive Producers: Justine Nagan, Chris White)
Best Audio Documentary “Somebody” (USA / Topic Studios, The Intercept, the Invisible Institute, and iHeartRadio, in association with Tenderfoot TV. Reporters and Producers: Alison Flowers, Bill Healy and Sarah Geis. Host: Shapearl Wells. Reporters: Sam Stecklow, Annie Nguyen, Kahari Blackburn, Rajiv Sinclair, Henri Adams, Matilda Vojak, Dana Brozost-Kelleher, Frances McDonald, Diana Akmajian, Andrew Fan and Maddie Anderson. Associate Producer: Ellen Glover. Executive Producers: Jamie Kalven, Maria Zuckerman, Christy Gressman, Leital Molad)
Best Music Documentary “Universe” (USA. Directors: Sam Osborn and Nicholas Capezzera. Producers: Esther Dere and Leah Natasha Thomas)
David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award “People Like Me” (USA / University of California Santa Cruz. Director/Producer: Marrok Sedgwick, Co-Editor: Jackson Patrick-Sternin)
Best Cinematography “The Earth Is Blue as an Orange (Ukraine, Lithuania. Cinematographer: Viacheslav Tsvietkov)
Best Editing “Dick Johnson Is Dead” (USA / Netflix. Editor: Nels Bangerter)
Best Music Score “My Octopus Teacher” (USA / Netflix. Composer: Kevin Smuts)
Best Writing “Dick Johnson is Dead” (USA / Netflix. Writers: Nels Bangerter and Kirsten Johnson)
Pare Lorentz Award “My Octopus Teacher” (USA / Netflix. Director: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed. Producer: Craig Foster)
Honorable Mention: “Crip Camp” (USA / Netflix. Directors/Producers: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht. Producer: Sara Bolder)
ABC News VideoSource Award “Crip Camp” (USA / Netflix. Directors/Producers: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht. Producer: Sara Bolder)
2020 IDA Documentary Awards Honorary Awards Amicus Award: Regina S. Scully
Career Achievement Award: Sam Pollard
Courage Under Fire Award: David France, Olga Baranova, David Isteev and the filmmakers and activists from “Welcome to Chechnya”
Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award: Garrett Bradley (“Time”)
Pioneer Award: Firelight Media
Truth to Power Award: Maria Ressa and Rappler (“A Thousand Cuts”)