February 1, 2013

Humanitas Documentary Award Nominees 2012

This award is given to a film that explores the hope and fears of human beings who are very different in culture, race, lifestyle, political loyalties and religious beliefs, in order to break down the walls of ignorance that separate us.

American Experience: The Amish
Director/Producer/Writer: David Belton
Producer: Callie T. Wiser
Senior Producer: Sharon Grimberg
Executive Producer: Mark Samels
Sarah Colt Productions for American Experience, PBS

An extraordinarily intimate portrait of contemporary Amish faith and life, this film questions why and how the Amish-an insistently closed and communal culture-have thrived within one of the most open, individualistic societies on earth. It also explores how, despite their ingrained submissiveness, the Amish have successfully asserted themselves in resisting the encroachments of modern society and government. As well, it asks what our fascination with the Amish says about deep American values, and looks at what the future holds for a community whose existence is so rooted in the past.

*Bitter Seeds (winner)
Director/Producer: Micha X. Peled
Teddy Bear Films

India has more farmers than any country in the world, and they are in a crisis that is unprecedented in human history. Every 30 minutes, a farmer in India kills himself in despair. In a village at the center of the suicide epidemic, a farmer and his family struggle to keep his land, and a teenage girl makes her first steps to become a journalist and tell the world about the crisis. Bitter Seeds raises questions about the human cost of genetically modified agriculture and the future of how we grow things. This is the third film in Micha Peled's globalization trilogy, following the award-winning Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town and China Blue.

Call Me Kuchu
Directors/Writers: Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall
Producer: Malika Zouhali-Worrall
New Video

In an unmarked office at the end of a dirt track, veteran activist David Kato labors to repeal Uganda's homophobic laws and liberate his fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, or "kuchus." A new "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," up for debate in Uganda's Parliament, proposes death for HIV-positive gay men, and prison for anyone who fails to turn in a known homosexual. Meanwhile, local newspapers have begun outing kuchus with vicious fervor.

One year into filming Call Me Kuchu and just three weeks after a landmark legal victory, David is brutally murdered in his home. His death sends shock waves around the world, and leaves Kampala's kuchus traumatized and seeking answers for a way forward.

With unprecedented access, Call Me Kuchu depicts the last year in the life of a courageous man whose wisdom and achievements were not fully recognized until after his death. The documentary tells the nuanced story of David and Kampala's kuchus as they work to change their fate, and that of others like them across Africa.

Harvest of Empire
Directors: Peter Getzels, Eduardo López
Producers: Wendy Thompson-Marquez, Eduardo López
Onyx Films, EVS Communications, Loquito Productions

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Harvest of Empire examines the direct connection between the long history of US intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that US economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation's cultural and economic landscape.

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely noted triumphs of our nation's growing Latino community.  

The Virgin, the Copts and Me
Director/Producer/Writer: Namir Abdel Messeeh
Writers: Nathalie Najern, Anne Paschetta
OWEDA Films, Doha Film Institute, Doc & Film International

Namir is a French filmmaker of Egyptian origin. One day, he watches a videotape of the Virgin Mary's apparition in Egypt with his mother who, like millions of other Copts (Egyptian Christians), sees the Virgin on the screen, while he sees nothing. Skeptical about the videotape, Namir travels back to Egypt to make a film about the bizarre occurrence of these apparitions.

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