Skip to main content

2005 IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards Winners

By IDA Editorial Staff

From Hanna Polak and Andrzej Celinsky's 'The Children of Leningradsky.'

Feature Documentary Award

Favela Rising
Directors/Writers: Jeff Zimbalist, Matt Mochary
Producers: Matt Mochary, Jeff Zimbalist
Cinematographers: Jeff Zimbalist, Kelly Mark Green, Matt Mochary
Editor: Jeff Zimbalist
Composer: Force Theory
Stealth Films, Sidetrack Films, Voy Pictures, THINKFilm, HBO/Cinemax Documentary Films

Favela Rising documents a man and a movement, a city divided and a favela (Brazilian squatter settlement) united. Haunted by the murders of his family and many of his friends, Anderson Sa is a former drug trafficker who turns revolutionary in Rio de Janeiro's most feared slum. Through hip-hop music, the rhythms of the street and Afro-Brazilian dance, he rallies his community to war against the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained by corrupt police. At the dawn of liberation, just as collective mobility is overcoming all odds and Anderson's grassroots AfroReggae movement is at the height of its success, a tragic accident threatens to silence the movement forever.

JEFF ZIMBALIST has edited numerous long-format and feature-length documentary films for broadcast on PBS, Women's Entertainment Television and various news programs. His independent production company, Our Lunacies Harmonize Productions, has produced educational and promotional films for over a dozen clients throughout the United States, in South Asia and in Latin America. Zimbalist has shot, directed and edited a variety of short fiction and nonfiction films and has provided media consulting services to the United Nations Development Programme and various international nonprofit service organizations. Currently, Zimbalist is a faculty member at both the New York Film Academy and the Maine Photographic Workshops. Favela Rising is his feature-length directorial debut.

Favela Rising is MATT MOCHARY's first work of co-direction and production. Before Favela Rising, Mochary was a partner at Spectrum Equity Investors, the founder and chairman of Totality Corporation, the chairman of AEKus Properties and the creator of The Mochary Foundation, a charitable organization that promotes public education in the inner city ( Mochary received his BA from Yale University and his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Our Brand Is Crisis
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor: Rachel Boynton
Cinematographers: Tom Hurwitz, Christine Burrill, Michael Anderson, Jerry Risius           
Editor: Jennifer Robinson
Composer: Marcelo Zarvos
Executive Producers: Steven Shainberg, Robby Kravis, Sanders Goodstein
Boynton Films, Films Transit

It's little known that American political consultants run presidential campaigns in elections around the world. This shockingly candid and bullet-paced film follows James Carville and a group of US strategists as they travel to South America to help Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada become President of Bolivia. With remarkable access to situations happening all the time in America but which we're never allowed to see, the film unravels like a fictional adventure, as consultants and candidate confront disasters the first polls never predicted. Boynton's debut feature raises crucial questions: What do we, as voters, require of leaders in the modern world? What is our "brand" of democracy, after all? And when we talk about "spreading democracy" overseas, what do we mean? What are we spreading?

From Rachel Boynton, <em>Our Brand is Crisis</em>

Our Brand is Crisis is RACHEL BOYNTON's first film as a director. Before starting on the project three years ago, she worked as an associate producer on several feature-length documentaries, including Well-Founded Fear, which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally on PBS's P.O.V., and the PBS series People Like Us: Social Class in America. She also produced for ARD, a German television station. Boynton received an MS in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a BA in international relations from Brown University and a Certificate of Political Studies from L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, France. She is based in New York City.


IDA/ABC News VideoSource Award

Rwanda--Do Scars Ever Fade?
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor: Paul Freedman
Executive Producer/Writer: Bill Brummel
Executive Producer: Margaret Kim
Cinematographer: Richard Pendleton
Composer: Jamie Dunlap
Bill Brummel Productions, The History Channel

In 1994, the small African country of Rwanda was awash in blood. Extremists in the majority Hutu-controlled government organized a systematic genocide of Rwanda's minority Tutsi population. In just 100 days, more than 800,000 were killed. The atrocity was halted a decade ago, but for Rwandans the ordeal does not yet have an ending. Today, the physical scars sustained by survivors are fading, but emotional scars remain. Rwanda-Do Scars Ever Fade? explores the country's turbulent pre-genocide history, the horrifying 1994 slaughter and the difficult ten-year, post-genocide period during which the current government has embarked upon an ambitious effort aimed at reconciliation. The program grapples with a perplexing question: How does a country haunted by the scourge of its past recover? 

PAUL FREEDMAN's most recent work as producer/director/writer/editor, Rwanda--Do Scars Ever Fade? for Bill Brummel Productions, aired on The History Channel in December 2004 and received a prestigious Peabody Award. Freedman's other documentary films include The Tears of Peleliu, which chronicles the personal experiences of American and Japanese soldiers in a brutal and controversial battle during World War II, and Human Products, the unlikely story of a plumber and an electrician in working-class London who make a brief splash on the London art scene. His short film Such's Life received a Silver Award at the 2004 WorldFest Houston. Freedman is currently at work on a documentary about the ongoing tragedy in Darfur, Sudan.

Many of the films BILL BRUMMEL has helmed shine a light on the darkest areas of humanity and history. An optimist by nature, Brummel believes that exposing tragic atrocities of yesterday helps us recognize and combat human rights abuses of today. As a producer, writer, director and president of Bill Brummel Productions, Brummel has been recognized with a Peabody Award, a previous IDA Award and multiple Emmy nominations. Some of his previous documentaries include Inside Pol Pot's Secret Prison, The Ku Klux Klan--A Secret History, Civil Rights Martyrs, Inside North Korea and The Greensboro Massacre.


Pare Lorentz Award

America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie
Director/Producer/Writer: David O'Shields
Producer/Executive Producer: Daryl Smith
Cinematographer: William Carlson
Editor: Clayton Condit
Composer: Brian Keane
New Light Media, PBS

America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie tells the rich and complex story of one of the most astonishing alterations of nature in human history. America's Lost Landscape examines the record of human struggle, triumph and defeat that prairie history exemplifies, including the history and culture of America's aboriginal inhabitants. The story of how and why the prairie was changed by Euro-American settlement is thoughtfully nuanced. The film also highlights prairie preservation efforts and explores how the tallgrass prairie ecosystem may serve as a model for a sustainable agriculture of the future.

DAVID O'SHIELDS has been a working member of the production community since 1985. In addition to his work in public television, he has extensive experience as a cameraman and director in commercial television. O'Shields founded New Light Media in 1995 to pursue his dream of making important and engaging documentary films. New Light Media's goal is to develop a diverse and distinctive body of documentaries. The natural environment, democracy, race and American history are primary areas of interest. The company is based in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

DR. DARYL SMITH is the director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center and professor of biology and science education at the University of Northern Iowa.  A native Iowan, Smith has been involved in prairie reconstruction and restoration for 30 years.


Honorable Mention

National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth
Executive Producers: Mark Shelley, Nancy Burnett, Sea Studios Foundation; Richard Hutton, Vulcan Productions; Michael Rosenfeld, National Geographic Television & Film
Series Producer: David Elisco
Episode Producers: John Rubin, Rob Whittlesey, Ron Bowman, Jonathan Halperin
Cinematographers: Reuben Aaronson, Alastair MacEwan, John Chater, Mark Shelley, Erich Roland, Mark Knobil
Editors: Beth Spiegel, Stephanie Munroe, Lisa Fredrickson, Stephanie Mechura Challberg
Writer: John Rubin
Composer: Sheldon Mirowitz
A Sea Studios Foundation production for Vulcan Productions, Inc. and National Geographic Television & Film; WGBH Boston, PBS

Around the globe, scientists are racing to solve a series of mysteries: How could a one-degree rise in average temperature have such profound effects? What happens to an ecosystem when top predators disappear? National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth uses engaging storytelling and innovative imaging to explore new discoveries about the health of the planet. Each of the four episodes is constructed as a high-tech detective story, with the fate of the planet at stake, revealing the way that seemingly distant events are connected and ultimately how they are affecting individual health and well-being.

Building on its global reputation for remarkable visuals and compelling stories, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TELEVISION & FILM augments its award-winning documentary productions with feature films, large-format films, kids' programming and long-form television drama programming. Worldwide, National Geographic's television programming can be seen on the National Geographic Channel, MSNBC and PBS, home video and DVD and through international broadcast syndication. The National Geographic Channel is received by more than 220 million households in 26 languages in 148 countries.

SEA STUDIOS FOUNDATION was created to increase the public's understanding and participation in science and environmental issues. To meet its goal, the foundation produces projects based on a new strategy to integrate traditional forms of media, such as television, the Internet and informal learning institutions. The foundation was formed in 1996 as a nonprofit organization and it has offices in Monterey, California. Sea Studios Foundation has produced two international projects with National Geographic Television--The Shape of Life and Strange Days on Planet Earth

Founded in 1997 by investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, Seattle-based VULCAN PRODUCTIONS devotes itself exclusively to producing independent films of unique vision and artistic quality. With projects such as Far From Heaven, The Safety of Objects, The Blues, Evolution and Me & Isaac Newton, the company commits its talent and resources to creating films of substance and enduring significance--engaging audiences both intellectually and emotionally with storytelling that illuminates the human condition. 


Continuing Series Award

CNN Presents
Executive Producer: Sid Bedingfield
Executive Director: Jody Gottlieb
CNN Productions, CNN

Episodes Submitted:

  • High Stakes (John Valadez, dir./prod.)
  • Homicide in Hollenbeck (Andy Segal, Satan Wilson, Dave Timko, Claire Clark, prods.)
  • Impact of Terror (Tim Wolochatiuk, dir.; Simcha Jacobovici, Ric Bienstock, prods.)
  • Reasonable Doubt (Robin Mejia, Ken Shiffman, prods./dirs.)

Through powerful storytelling, memorable subjects and thorough journalism, CNN Presents deepens the understanding of viewers worldwide about the people, places and events defining their world. One of the most honored documentary series on television, CNN Presents showcases the global reach and unequaled reportage of the world's news leader. Whether undercover in Afghanistan before 9/11, on the frontlines during the conflict in Iraq, exploring the mystery of Jesus or tackling the devastating child sex trade in Europe, CNN Presents showcases insightful, in-depth programming that enlightens a rapidly changing world.

As senior vice president of CNN Productions since 2002, SID BEDINGFIELD oversees all of CNN News Group's documentary and long-form programming, including the weekly series CNN Presents and People in the News. He previously was executive vice president and general manager of CNN/US, responsible for the network's day-to-day news operation, encompassing all aspects of programming and production, including oversight of's US-based operations. Prior to this position, Bedingfield served as executive vice president and senior executive producer of CNN/US, vice president of CNN/US and executive producer of CNN International (CNNI), overseeing the network's live coverage, special programming and production staff. Bedingfield joined CNN in 1986 as a writer.


Limited Series Award

The Staircase
Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Producer: Denis Poncet
Cinematographer: Isabelle Razavet
Editors: Sophie Brunet, Scott Stevenson, Jean-Pierre Bloc
Composer: Jocelyn Pook
Maha Productions, Sundance Channel, Canal+

On December 9, 2001, novelist Michael Peterson called 911 in tears and told the operator that he had found his wife, unconscious but still breathing, at the bottom of the stairs. When the police arrived, they found Kathleen lying dead in a pool of blood and treated the home as a crime scene. One week later, Michael Peterson was charged with first-degree murder. The Staircase follows this unpredictable real-life drama, with Peterson's sons and adopted daughters rallying by his side; his legal team preparing the defense; and the prosecution building a case that puts Peterson's marriage--and his private life--at the center of the trial. 

JEAN-XAVIER DE LESTRADE founded Tribulations in 1987, a TV news agency covering political events for European television. In 1992, de Lestrade was a freelance director and made documentary films that questioned the mechanism of society, its taboos and the way its justice functions. Topics included sexual crime, incurable child disease, the approach of death and genocide in Rwanda and in Australia. In 1999, he and producer Denis Poncet formed Maha Productions. De Lestrade's work has been awarded several prizes, including an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, an Italia prize and two FIPA awards. The Staircase is his 10thfeature documentary.

DENIS PONCET spent 20 years as a journalist for Radio France. In 1995, he became co-producer for Bertrand Tavernier's company Little Bear, where he joined director and friend Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. Together, they made Children Full of Hope and the award-winning A White and Pure Australia. In 1999, they created Maha Productions, of which he is currently president, and produced documentaries and films that include Murder on a Sunday Morning (winner of the 2001 Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary), An Algerian Dream and the series The Staircase. Poncet is currently producing a film on Ernest Hemingway called Rivers to the Sea and two docudramas, Washington and Lafayette and Hannah.


Short Documentary Award

The Children of Leningradsky
Directors/Producers/Cinematographers: Hanna Polak, Andrzej Celinsky
Editors: Ewa Rozewicz, Andrzej Celinsky
HBO/Cinemax Documentary Films

An intimate portrait of children living in Moscow train stations, The Children of Leningradsky explores the overwhelming crisis of homeless children in Russia. Sleeping in stairways, garbage containers and underground tunnels, the children panhandle, prostitute themselves for money and sniff glue to curb hunger and escape the violent world around them. Still, many of them consider life on the streets preferable to what they experience at home.

HANNA POLAK was born in Katowice, Poland. She studied acting and worked as a stage performer before beginning her studies at the Cinematography School of Moscow in 2002. Her first short film, Al (about legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles), opened at the 2004 Documentary Film Festival in Cracow. In 1997 Polak founded Active Child Aid to help the underprivileged children of Russia. In connection with this work, she has also published photography in various magazines and newspapers in Russia, Norway and Poland. In 2000 Polak invited Andrzej Celinski to help make The Children of Leningradsky. She is currently producing a follow-up film about children living in Moscow's garbage dumps.

ANDRZEJ CELINSKI is a graduate of the State Theater Academy in Cracow, Poland. He has written and directed award-winning theater performances in Polish and Czech Republic theaters. He has also created documentaries about photography, experimental film and new trends in Polish theater.


IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award

The Color of Love
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor: Maryam Keshavarz
Editor: Andrea Chignoli
New York University, Film Option International

Using the weeklong Ashura festival as a framework, The Color of Love documents the changing face of love and politics in the ancient city of Shiraz, Iran. As the older generation performs cathartic rituals, the city's youth are left to their own devices. They cruise the public squares, hoping for a sideways glance or a brief note from a potential lover. Filmmaker Maryam Keshavarz investigates the way these shifting mores have surfaced in a culture entrenched in traditional values and how they have been influenced by Western culture through satellite television and the Internet. By interviewing different generations of Iranians, Keshavarz attempts to uncover how ideas of love, romance, marriage and sex have evolved in a society where politics and culture are inextricably linked.

In 2001, MARYAM KESHAVARZ won the Steve Tisch Award to attend NYU Film School. As part of her MFA, she returned to her native Iran to explore a society in the throes of change. The Color of Love became her feature documentary debut and screened at festivals and venues around the world. The film will air internationally in 2006. Keshavarz is currently in production on Youth Subcultures: A Tale of the New Iranian Generation and a personal doc entitled My Father, Khomeini and is in development on a feature fiction film entitled Circumstance. Spanning across the Middle East and the US, Circumstance interweaves four stories told with the urgency and grit of Traffic and the despair and intrigue of Dirty Pretty Things.