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2002 IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards Winners

By Tom White

From Marlo Poras' 'Mai's America'

2002 IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards 

Feature Documentary 

Mai's America 
Producer/Director: Marlo Poras
Executive Producer: David Sutherland
P.O.V., ITVS, Women Make Movies

Mai's America is a personal journey that defies all expectations. Mai, a smart, vivacious and resilient Vietnamese teenager, travels to America for her senior year of high school, shouldering her family's high expectations and her own visions of western-style success. Yet, nothing in Mai's wildest imagination could prepare her for what she finds in rural Mississippi, where encounters with white Pentecostal and black Baptist host-families, a local transvestite and South Vietnamese immigrants challenge her long-held ideas about America, the concept of freedom, her identity and even her homeland of Vietnam.

MARLO PORAS-Born on a US Army base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky during the Vietnam War, Poras spent the majority of her childhood in Framingham, Massachusetts, where she currently resides. After receiving her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, Poras worked as an apprentice to Thelma Schoonmaker at Martin Scorsese's Cappa Productions and was an apprentice and assistant editor on such independent films as Greg Mattola's The Daytrippers and Alison Anders' Grace of My Heart. Poras was living in Hanoi, producing teen-oriented AIDS education films for UNICEF and the Population Council, when she was inspired to make Mai's America.


Señorita Extraviada
Producer/Director/Writer: Lourdes Portillo
Cinematographer: Kyle Kibbe
Editor: Vivien Hillgrove
ITVS, Latino Public Broadcasting, POV, Women Make Movies

Señorita Extraviada unfolds like the mystery that it examines—the kidnapping, rape and murder of over 230 young women in Juárez, Mexico. Visually poetic, yet unflinching in its gaze, the film unravels the layers of complicity that have allowed these brutal murders to continue. Relying on what Portillo comes to see as the most reliable of sources—the testimonies of the families of the victims—Señorita Extraviada documents a two-year search for the truth in the underbelly of the new global economy.

LOURDES PORTILLO was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and moved to the United States in 1960. She made her first film, a dramatic short called After the Earthquake, in 1979. Among the documentary, dramatic, experimental and performance films and videos she has made are the Academy Award-nominated Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (1986), La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead (1988), Vida (1989), Columbus on Trial (1992), Mirrors of the Heart (1993), The Devil Never Sleeps (1994) and Sometimes My Feet Go Numb and 13 Days (1997), a multi-media piece for a nationally toured play by the San Francisco Mime Troupe.


IDA/ABCNEWS VideoSource Award

Bringing Down a Dictator
Producer/Director/Writer: Steve York
Executive Producer: Peter Ackerman
Managing Producer: Miriam Zimmerman
Editor: Joseph Wiedenmayer York Zimmerman Inc., PBS

Even in the 20th century—uniquely rich in genocide, institutionalized thuggery, ethnic cleansing and demagogues—the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic stands out. An ex-Communist bureaucrat with modest intelligence and a cold eye for opportunity, he reinvented himself after the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a Serbian patriot to hold onto the presidency in 1989 and launched an 11-year reign that ranks among the bloodiest of the century. The extraordinary story of the overthrow of the "Butcher of the Balkans" by an avowedly nonviolent group of student revolutionaries whose weapons included humor, ridicule and the Internet is captured in Bringing Down a Dictator.

STEVE YORK has won numerous awards and consistent acclaim for his many documentaries for network and public television. D-Day: The Soldiers Story was broadcast as part of the ABC-TV Turning Point series for the 50th anniversary of the allied invasion of Europe. In 1991, he earned a Peabody Award for the ABCNews Special Pearl Harbor: Two Hours that Changed the World. He has created several programs for the PBS Frontline series, including The Arab and the Israeli and Vietnam Memorial, for which he received an Emmy nomination. His other credits include Remaking the World, a program on religious fundamentalism; The Culture of Commerce, a program in Hedrick Smith's Challenge to America series; and, in affiliation with WETA Washington, DC, Selling the Dream, This Honorable Court and Islam. Most recently, York produced and directed the Emmy-nominated PBS series A Force More Powerful.

PETER ACKERMAN. A well-known scholar and teacher in the area of strategic nonviolent conflict, Ackerman was the principal content advisor to Steve York during production of A Force More Powerful. He also wrote the companion volume to the series. Dr. Ackerman's first book was Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of People Power in the Twentieth Century (co-authored with Christopher Kruegler). Dr. Ackerman is currently chairman of the Board of Overseers at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and sits on the boards of CARE, Colgate University, The Cato Institute and The Albert Einstein Institute. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Executive Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.




In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01
Executive Producers: Brad Grey, Sheila Nevins, John Hoffman
HBO, Brad Grey Pictures

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and the people of New York City act as guides and storytellers in an historical account of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, as seen through a uniquely personal collection from 118 video and still photographers—most of then amateur independent filmmakers—and 16 news organizations.

BRAD GREY is chairman and CEO of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment (BGE). BGE's affiliated companies include Brillstein-Grey Management, Brad Grey Television and Brad Grey Pictures. In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01 was produced by HBO in association with Brad Grey TV. The film and all of the materials used in making the film were donated to The Museum of the City of New York. Giuliani. Brad Grey Television and HBO/AOL Time Warner donated their production fee to the Twin Towers Fund, which was established by Mayor Giuliani. Grey, a Golden Globe Award winner as executive producer of The Sopranos and a four-time winner of the George Foster Peabody Award, is a 16-time Emmy and Academy Award nominee.

SHEILA NEVINS was named executive vice president, original programming for Home Box Office in April 1999. She is responsible for overseeing the development and production of all documentaries and family programming for HBO and Cinemax and their multiplex channels. She had been senior vice president, original programming since 1995. During her tenure, HBO's critically acclaimed documentary and family programs have won numerous awards including 45 Emmy Awards, 17 George Foster Peabody Awards--including a Personal Peabody for her outstanding work in documentary and family programming--and ten Academy Awards. In 1998 she garnered two career achievement awards: the IDA Career Achievement Award and the New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award for Outstanding Vision & Achievement. In 2000, Nevins was inducted into Broadcasting & Cable's Hall of Fame and NATAS' Silver Circle. Nevins joined HBO in l979 and worked for four years as HBO's director of documentary programming.

For the past five years, while concurrently producing family programming for HBO, JOHN HOFFMAN has served as senior consulting executive of HBO's documentary programming department. In this time, he has been the senior or supervising producer on more than 25 films, including Al Maysles and Susan Froemke's LaLee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton, Alan and Susan Raymond's Children in War, Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman's Sundance Award-winning Paragraph 175, Joe Lovett's Cancer: Evolution to Revolution, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's The Eyes of Tammy Faye and the Academy Award winning One Day in September. Hoffman is a graduate of Cornell University and currently resides in New York City.




History Undercover: Inside Pol Pot's Secret Prison
Executive Producer/Writer: Bill Brummel
Producer/Writer: Greg Dehart
Associate Producer: William Povletich
Cinematography: Rick Pendleton
Editor: Paul Freedman
Executive Producer for The History Channel: Margaret G. Kim
The History Channel, Bill Brummel Productions

It was known as the place where people went in, but never came out.  In just over three years, over 14,000 Cambodians entered its gates; just seven survived. Inside Pol Pot's Secret Prison tells the true story of S-21, a secret torture and interrogation center used by the Khmer Rouge to exterminate suspected traitors during the Cambodian genocide in the late 1970s. Shot on location at the still standing prison, the program features chilling interviews with prison staff and two prison survivors. 

BILL BRUMMEL has led a varied career in nonfiction, having produced television specials, as well as series. Much of Brummel's documentary work has centered on human rights and social issues. His films include the award-winning The Ku Klux Klan—A Secret History, Civil Rights Martyrs, The Greensboro Massacre and Vigilantes. 

GREG DEHART has produced numerous documentaries. He credits his life as an impoverished documentary filmmaker to the inspiration of Albert and David Maysles, Ken Burns and Dennis O'Rourke. Someday, he hopes to ask them to stop making films so he can stop chasing perfection and go on with his life.




Producers: Carl Byker, David Mrazek, Isaac Mizrahi, Richard Kassebaum
Directors: Carl Byker and Mitch Wilson
Writers: Carl Byker and David Mrazek
Cinematograher: Mitch Wilson             
Editors: Isaac Mizrahi, Victor Livingston
KCET/Hollywood, WGBH Boston, PBS

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson led a reluctant America out of decades of isolationism into a ghastly and frightening global conflict. In so doing, he helped define the US role on the world stage for the rest of the 20th century. But once Wilson believed America had a responsibility to bring peace and democracy to the world, it was a mission he pursued tenaciously and one that would ultimately destroy him. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Woodrow Wilson is a rich portrait of a complex man many claim to be among the nation's greatest presidents.

Producer/director CARL BYKER began his film and television career in the 1980s as an award-winning editor. His outstanding work in nonfiction programming quickly led to jobs as a writer/producer. Cinematographer/director MITCH WILSON began his career in the Navy as an underwater photographer in the combat camera group. He went to work as a television news photographer in Oklahoma City, Houston and Dallas, where he won the National Press Photographers Association Award for TV News Photographer of the Year in 1983. In 1984, he moved to Los Angeles, where he has worked steadily in commercial and public television and earned numerous awards, including multiple LA Emmys. Over the past eight years, Byker and Wilson, have been responsible for a number of television's most acclaimed documentaries. The team's productions for PBS include KCET's The Great War And the Shaping of the 20th Century, an eight-hour social history of World War I that won the 1996 primetime Emmy Award for Best Non-Fiction Series, as well as a Peabody Award, a Dupont Award and the Kodak Vision Award; The Duel, a film about the deadly confrontation between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr; and The Human Quest, a four-part KCET production that traced the evolution of the human brain, for which Byker won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Non-Fiction Program. Byker and Wilson are currently completing a four-hour series on the origins of Judaism, The Kingdom of David, which will air on PBS in the spring of 2003.




Judy's Time
Producer/Director: Erin Flannery
University of Southern California Graduate School of Cinema-Television

Judy's Time tells the story of Judy Flannery, a mother of five who, in mid-life, transformed herself into a world champion triathlete.The film chronicles her discovery of her strengths, her passionate pursuit of a goal and the people she inspired before her tragic death at age 57.

ERIN FLANNERY received her Master of Fine Arts in film production from the USC Graduate School of Cinema-Television and a bachelor's degree in English literature from Princeton University. She was enrolled in film school when her mother died suddenly when an out-of-control car struck her while she was cycling. In response to the tragedy, Flannery began to make Judy's Time , about her mother's remarkable life. The documentary was nominated for an American Cinema Editors ACE Eddy Award for Best Edited Documentary, was included in the Cannes Film Festival's Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Showcase, and has won such awards as the CINE Eagle and Masters Series Award. Prior to graduate school, she was managing director and development director of Public Allies, a national organization that recruits and trains diverse young adults for leadership positions in public interest organizations.




Left Behind
Producer/Director: Christof Putzel
Connecticut College

Left Behind reveals the devastating effects of AIDS on Kenya's children by exploring the lives of HIV-positive orphans at Nyumbai Children's Home; why the virus spread in the poverty-ridden slum of Kibera; and the struggle for survival of homeless children in nearby Dagoretti who lost their parents to AIDS.

CHRISTOF PUTZEL received his Bachelor of Arts in human relations and film studies from Connecticut College in 2002. In the summer of 2000, he was awarded a fellowship from the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy to work in an orphanage for HIV-positive children in Nairobi, Kenya. He took the opportunity to shoot a documentary on the impact of the AIDS pandemic on the country's children. Putzel produced Left Behind in the Film Studies Workshop of Connecticut College as part of his Senior Independent Study, with the assistance of an equipment grant from the college.