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2007 IDA Documentary Awards Nominees

By Tom White

From Mary Olive Smith's <em>A Walk to Beautiful</em>, winner of 2007 IDA Awards -- Feature Documentary

Feature Documentaries


A Walk to Beautiful (*Winner)
Director/Producer: Mary Olive Smith
Executive Producer: Steve Engel
Engel Entertainment, Inc., PBS/WGBH International/NOVA

A Walk to Beautiful tells the stories of five courageous women in Ethiopia who have suffered from devastating childbirth injuries and have been shunned by their family and villages. As they fight to regain their lives, we are no longer in the heart of Africa; we're in the hearts of these women.


Crazy Love
Director/Producer: Dan Klores
Producer: Fisher Stevens
Shoot the Moon Productions, Greenstreet Productions, Magnolia Pictures

Crazy Love tells the astonishing story of the obsessive roller-coaster relationship of Burt and Linda Pugach, which shocked the nation during the summer of 1959. Burt, a 32-year-old married attorney, and Linda, a beautiful, single 20-year-old girl living in The Bronx, had a whirlwind romance that culminated in a violent and psychologically complex set of actions that landed the pair's saga on the cover of endless newspapers and magazines. With the cooperation of Burt, now 79, and Linda, 68, filmmaker Dan Klores examines the human psyche and the concepts of love, obsession, insanity, hope and forgiveness.


Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Director/Producer: Richard E. Robbins
Executive Producer: Tom Yellin
The Documentary Group, ITVS/PBS

Unlike any documentary yet to emerge from the war in Iraq, Operation Homecoming explores the first-hand accounts of American soldiers through their own words. Built upon a project created by the National Endowment for the Arts to gather the writing of soldiers who have participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the film presents a profound window into the human side of America's current conflicts.


Director/Producer: Michael Moore
Producer: Meghan O'Hara
Dog Eat Dog Films, Lionsgate Films, The Weinstein Company

Opening with profiles of several ordinary Americans whose lives have been disrupted, shattered and, in some cases, ended by health care catastrophe, SiCKO makes clear that the crisis doesn't only affect the 47 million uninsured citizens; millions of others who dutifully pay their premiums often get strangled by bureaucratic red tape as well. After detailing just how the system got into such a mess, we visit countries such as Canada, Great Britain and France, where all citizens receive free medical benefits. Finally, Moore gathers a group of 9/11 rescue workers now suffering from debilitating illnesses--who have been denied medical attention in the US. He takes them to a most unexpected place, and in addition to receiving care, they also engage in some unexpected diplomacy.


Taxi to the Dark Side
Director/Producer: Alex Gibney
Producers: Eva Orner, Susannah Shipman
X-Ray Productions, THINKFilm, Discovery Channel

Taxi to the Dark Side examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base from injuries inflicted by US soldiers. In an unflinching look at the Bush administration's policy on torture, filmmaker Alex Gibney takes us from a village in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay--and straight to the White House.


Short Documentaries


A Son's Sacrifice (*Winner)
Director: Yoni Brook,
Producer: Musa Syeed
Executive Producer: Marco Williams
Foment Films, ITVS, PBS

A Son's Sacrifice follows the journey of Imran, a young American Muslim who confronts his roots at his father's slaughterhouse in New York City. On the holiest day of the year, Imran must lead his community in a sacrifice that forces him to define himself as a Muslim and a son.


Black and White
Director: Zam Salim
Producer: John Archer
Hopscotch Films

David Gillanders is an internationally acclaimed photojournalist. Black and White follows him from the mean streets of Glasgow's East End, where he documents the city's knife crime, to the Ukraine, where he is on a mission to bring the hellish underground existence of the country's street kids to the world's attention.


Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy
Director/Producer: Alice Elliott
Producer: Simone Pero Audi
Welcome Change Productions, Laverne Berry, Esq.

Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy invites you to witness the mysterious and intimate relationship of a couple some would call profoundly disabled. The film chronicles how they sustain their activism and friendship when an accident nearly drives them apart--but they finally admit that they are so deeply entwined they should be buried together.


The Fighting Cholitas
Director/Producer: Mariam Jobrani
Producer: Kenny Krauss
Moto Films, At Risk Films

The Fighting Cholitas is about a group of strong and bold female Bolivian wrestlers.  These indigenous Indian women jump into the ring every Sunday in their traditional, vibrant multilayered skirts and perform the acrobatic maneuvers of Lucha Libre (a blend of Mexican and American professional wrestling). The Fighting Cholitas documents this popular weekly fight and goes behind the scenes to find out who these women are and what draws them to this unusual sport.


Director: Cynthia Wade
Producers: Vanessa Roth, Matthew Syrett
Lieutenant Films Inc.

Freeheld follows the battle of Laurel Hester, a dying police officer who fights to transfer her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree. As her elected officials, The Freeholders, stand against her--and the town explodes around her--Laurel races against time to provide for the love of her life.


Alan Ett Music Award


We Are Together (Thina Simunge) (*Winner)
Director/Producer: Paul Taylor
Producer: Teddy Leifer
Executive Producers:  Leigh Blake, Sheila Nevins, Jess Search
Rise Films, HBO Documentary Films, The Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation

Filmed over three years, We Are Together tells the remarkable and moving tale of a group of children who use music to overcome hardship and loss. It is the story of an orphanage, unlike one you've ever seen before, and of the drive of these remarkable young singers and their teachers to make it to London for a series of concerts.


Director/Co-Producer: Tim Slade
Producer: Joanna Buggy
Executive Producer: Susan MacKinnon
Vast Productions Pty. Ltd., SBS Independent, YLE Teema, NHK, ITVS Independent

In each of the four seasons, four outstanding violinists guide us on an extraordinary journey through their four distinct homelands--from the springtime blossoms of Japan into the blistering heat and thunderstorms of an Australian summer; from a joyful autumn in New York to the unforgiving cold and human warmth of a Finnish winter. The resonant and much-loved Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi and the timeless stories they tell form the backbone of the bold and engaging celebration of friendship, homeland and the cycles of life.


Director/Executive Producer: Bruce Broder
Producers: Joe Carmody, Chip Rives, Warren Skeels
Executive Producer: Tim Cremin
Winnercomm, Inc., Arts Alliance America

Chops tells the story of a group of kids, born with extraordinary musical ability, who learn to make the most of their gifts in an acclaimed public school jazz program in Jacksonville, Florida. From their early, squeaky scales to their soaring improvisational solos, we have a front-row seat for their fascinating transformation.


Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037
Director/Producer/Executive Producer: Ben Niles
Plow Productions, LLC

The most thoroughly handcrafted instruments in the world, Steinways are as unique and full of personality as the world-class musicians who choose them above all others. Note by Note follows the creation of a Steinway concert grand, exploring the relationship between the musician and the instrument, chronicling the manufacturing process, and investigating what makes each Steinway unique and why that's important.


Directors: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine
Producer: Albie Hecht
Fine Films, Shine Global, THINKFilm, Sundance Channel

Set in Northern Uganda, a country ravaged by more than two decades of civil war, War/Dance tells the story of three children whose families have been torn apart and who currently reside in a displaced persons camp in Patongo. When they are invited to compete in a music and dance festival, their historic journey to their nation's capital becomes an opportunity to regain part of their childhood and taste victory for the first time in their lives.