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2009 IDA Documentary Awards: Winners

By IDA Editorial Staff

IDA/ABCNews VideoSource Award

Wounded Knee
Director/Producer: Stanley Nelson
Co-Producer: Julianna Brannum
Executive Producers: Sharon Grimberg, Mark Samels
Cinematographers: Stephen McCarthy, Michael Chin, Allen Moore, Eddie Maritz
Writer: Marcia Smith
Editors: Aljernon Tunsil, Lillian Benson, Lawrence Lerew
Composer: John Kusiak
Firelight Media; American Experience; WGBH; Native American Public Television

On the night of February 27, 1973, 54 cars rolled into a small hamlet on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Within hours, some 200 Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement (AIM) activists had seized the few major buildings in town and police had cordoned off the area. The occupation of Wounded Knee had begun. Demanding redress for grievances--some going back more than 100 years--the protesters captured the world's attention for 71 gripping days. Wounded Knee examines the broad political and economic forces that led to the emergence of AIM in the late 1960s, as well as the immediate events that triggered the takeover.

STANLEY NELSON, recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship, is executive producer of Firelight Media, which creates public television documentaries on history and contemporary social issues. Nelson's work for American Experience includes Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple; Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind; and The Murder of Emmett Till, which was honored with a Sundance Special Jury Prize, Peabody Award, Primetime Emmy Award and an IDA Award. Nelson also directed Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, which won a duPont-Columbia Silver Baton and the Sundance Film Festival's Freedom of Expression Award.


Pare Lorentz Award

The Final Inch
Director/Producer: Irene Taylor Brodsky
Producer: Tom Grant
Cinematographer: Jeffrey Streich
Editor: Bill Weber
Composers: Courtney Von Drehle, Joe Janiga
Vermilion Pictures;; HBO Documentary Films

Nearly 50 years after a vaccine for polio was developed in the United States, the polio virus still finds refuge in some of the world's most vulnerable places. Into India's impoverished neighborhoods, The Final Inch follows the massive--and yet highly personalized--mission to eradicate polio from the planet. In all, The Final Inch explores how the final days of any endeavor are always the most challenging, and is a profound testament to those working on the front lines of public health in the backwaters of our world.

IRENE TAYLOR BRODSKY is an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated producer, director, writer and cinematographer whose documentaries have been shown in theaters and film festivals worldwide, as well as on television. Her first feature-length film, Hear and Now, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and went on to receive numerous audience and jury awards globally, was nominated for Documentary of the Year by the Producers Guild of America and was acquired by HBO. Brodsky graduated from New York University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and, in 2003, founded Vermillon Films in Portland, Oregon.


IDA Music Documentary Award

Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Producer: Rebecca Yeldham
Co-Producer/Cinematographer: Chris Soos
Editors: Jeff Renfroe, Andrew Dickler
Little Dean's Yard; Ahimsa Films; Abramorama; VH-1

At 14, Toronto school friends Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, went on to become the "demigods of heavy metal," releasing one of the heaviest albums in metal history, Metal on Metal, which influenced a musical generation. But Anvil's career took a different path--straight to obscurity. Director Sacha Gervasi has concocted a wonderful and often hilarious account of Anvil's last-ditch quest for elusive fame and fortune. Anvil!: The Story of Anvil is a timeless tale of survival and the unadulterated passion it takes to follow your dream, year after year.
--John Cooper/Sundance Film Festival

Born in London in 1966, SACHA GERVASI read modern history at King's College London. He moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to attend the graduate screenwriting program at the UCLA School of Film, Theater and Television, where he twice won the BAFTA/LA scholarship and supported himself as a journalist. He got his film-writing start with The Big Tease, which he co-wrote with Craig Ferguson, and went on to pen The Terminal, directed by Steven Spielberg. His roots with Anvil date back to the 1980s, when he joined the band as a roadie for a tour of Canadian hockey arenas during the summer of 1983.

REBECCA YELDHAM currently serves as executive director of the Los Angeles Film Festival. She is also an independent producer, and is currently working on Walter Salles' next two feature projects, Linha de Passe and On the Road, having executive produced Salles' The Motorcycle Diaries. Yeldham previously served as senior vice president of production at Film Four, running its US production wing, and was senior programmer at the Sundance Film Festival from 1996 to 2001. Prior to that, she was director of acquisitions at Fox/Lorber Associates. Born and raised in Australia, Yeldham studied law at Sydney University before transferring to Brown University, where she graduated magna cum laude.


Continuing Series Award

Executive Director: Simon Kilmurry
Vice President: Cynthia Lopez
American Documentary, Inc.; PBS

Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and beginning its 22nd season on PBS in 2009, the award-winning POV series is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today's best independent documentary filmmakers. POV, which airs June through September with primetime specials during the year, has brought more than 275 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide, and has a Webby Award-winning online series, POV's Borders. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today's most pressing social issues.

SIMON KILMURRY served as chief operating officer of American Documentary for six years before assuming the role of executive director in Fall 2006. Since joining AmDoc in 1999, he has played a key role in helping to set strategic direction for the organization and implementing new initiatives, including the Diverse Voices Project, POV's co-production initiative in support of emerging filmmakers; POV's Borders, PBS' Webby Award-winning online series; and True Lives, a second-run series for independent documentaries on public television. In addition, he worked to secure pioneering partnerships with both Netflix and Docurama to expand distribution opportunities for POV filmmakers and enhance branding for POV.

CYNTHIA LÓPEZ has been with POV since 2000, serving first as communications director before being appointed vice president for American Documentary. López is responsible for development of programming content, broadcast distribution, communications and marketing and strategic development of the organization.
Under her leadership as communications director, national media coverage of POV programs more than tripled. Before joining POV, López spent four years at Libraries for the Future as advocacy director, and her previous experience in public media includes stints as acting executive director of Deep Dish TV Network and executive producer of Satellite University Network.


Limited Series Award

Architecture School
Director/Executive Producer/Original Concept: Michael Selditch
Original Concept: Stan Bertheaud
Senior Producer/Cinematographer/Editor: Rob Tate
Producer: Rachel Clift
Executive Producers: Lynne Kirby, Laura Michalchyshyn
Editors: Mustafa Bhagat, Laura DeNev, Beth Segal
Sundance Channel

The six-part series from creators Michael Selditch and Stan Bertheaud follows a group of students at Tulane University's prestigious School of Architecture as they submit competing designs for an affordable home in Katrina-battered New Orleans. The stakes are high: The winning model will be built during the course of the school year and put up for sale, enabling one fledgling architect to begin his or her career with a high-profile splash. Architecture School opens a window onto the art and science of architecture while telling a unique and uplifting story about the literal rebuilding of New Orleans.

MICHAEL SELDITCH directed Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on a recurring basis during its 100-episode run. He went on to direct and co-executive produce the one-hour special Project Jay on fashion designer Jay McCarroll, the first winner of Project Runway. More recently, Selditch was a show-runner and one of the creators on PBS' award-winning magazine series Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, which twice received the James Beard Award for Best National Television Food Series, and earned Selditch an Emmy nomination. He also served as a producer on FX's 30 Days and Trauma: Life in the ER, for which he also received an Emmy nomination. Selditch received a master of architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

ROB TATE was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated from Yale with a degree in music. For the last 12 years, Tate has edited multiple feature films and television shows. He is currently a producer/cinematographer/editor on PBS' Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, which earned him two Emmy nominations for producing and editing. He and Selditch have co-directed/produced the soon-to-be-released feature documentary, Eleven Minutes, on fashion designer Jay McCarroll.

STAN BERTHEAUD attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and he is credited with two theatrically released screenplays. Bertheaud earned his master of architecture degree at North Carolina State University. He has taught at Mississippi State University, Tulane University, Auburn University and the University of New Mexico. Bertheaud has amassed numerous awards and honors throughout his career as an architect, educator and screenwriter. Currently, Bertheaud is a professor of architecture at Woodbury University in Southern California, where he also teaches a basic filmmaking course.


Humanitas Award

Garbage Dreams
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Writer: Mai Iskander
Executive Producer: Tiffany Schauer
Co-Executive Producer: Claudia Miller
Editor/Co-Producer: Kate Hirson
Composer: Raz Mesinai
Iskander Films in co-production with MotiveArt in association with Chicken & Egg Pictures/Films Transit International

Garbage Dreams follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world's largest garbage village, on the outskirts of Cairo. It is the home to 60,000 Zaballeen--Arabic for "garbage people." Far ahead of any modern "Green" initiatives, the Zaballeen survive by recycling 80 percent of the garbage they collect. When their community is suddenly faced with the globalization of its trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community.

MAI ISKANDER is a producer, director and cinematographer based in New York. Garbage Dreams is her directorial debut. As a cinematographer, Iskander has worked on TV shows for A&E, PBS and Logo, and has filmed numerous dramatic productions and commercials. She also worked with the legendary Albert Maysles on the documentary Profiles of a Peacemaker, and Academy Award nominee Edet Belzberg on the documentary Watchers of the Sky. Iskander began her career as a camera assistant, working on over a dozen features. She graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in film production and a BA in economics.


IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award

The First Kid to Learn English from Mexico
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor/Composer: Peter Jordan
Stanford University; Localfilms

This cinematic documentary about the struggles of a nine-year-old Mexican immigrant named Pedro portrays the magic, the nightmare and mystery, the isolation and odd friendships, the trouble and anger, and the glimmers of hope of a childhood spent chasing the American Dream. Misbehaving and failing at school, Pedro becomes isolated from other children and tries to befriend unsuspecting animals encountered along his way.

PETER JORDAN is an award-winning filmmaker and the founder of Localfilms, a grassroots production company that partners with international humanitarian organizations to empower communities through film. His films explore pressing human rights concerns from the perspectives of children around the world. He also teaches children how to make their own films, using plastic video cameras and a solar-powered computer. He has directed film projects in Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Brazil, Ecuador, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, The Philippines, Singapore and Mexico. His partners have included international relief organizations like Save the Children as well as many local grassroots efforts. To learn more about his work, visit