October 23, 2019

IDA Announces 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards Nominees

Los Angeles, C.A. (October 23, 2019) – The International Documentary Association (IDA) has announced the 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards Nominees. The IDA also announced the Courage Under Fire Award honoree Waad Al-Kateab, director and producer of For Sama. For the first time, the IDA will present an award for Best Director and, notably, all of the nominated films have female directors.

“The IDA Documentary Awards recognizes excellence in nonfiction storytelling across a range of forms, and all of this year’s nominees and winners illustrate that documentary storytelling is one of the most vital art forms today," said Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the IDA. “These features, shorts, series, and audio documentaries explore all parts of the human experience. They challenge us and entertain us. They speak to the need for a more compassionate world and illustrate the unlimited resilience and potential we have by sharing these stories with each other. They build bridges across continents and cultures.”

First awarded in 2001, the Courage Under Fire Award is presented to documentarians displaying conspicuous bravery in the pursuit of truth, as a recognition from their peers for putting the freedom of speech—represented in the crafts of documentary filmmaking and journalism—above all else, even their own personal safety. Past recipients have included Christiane Amanpour, Andrew Berends, Feras Fayyad, Laura Poitras and others.

“With the addition of the Best Director Award, the IDA is making an important statement. We felt the need to more clearly acknowledge the creativity and bold directorial vision that is behind many of the films we are privileged to consider. We hope that this award recognizes the fact that documentary directing is a vital and unique art form,” said IDA’s Executive Director Simon Kilmurry.

'For Sama' director Waad Al-Kateab.

Waad Al-Kateab, director and producer of For Sama said: “Back in Aleppo, I had no option but to fight the fears and horrors of this war through filming my experience both as a mother and as a female filmmaker. And now to receive the Courage Under Fire Award, I am moved and honored and even more inspired to continue to tell these important stories. This award means so much, and I hope it will serve as an inspiration to women around the world who are suffering from war or prejudice, so that they may find the strength to film their lives and to tell their truth. I would like to share this award with all of the brave filmmakers and citizen journalists behind the scenes whom you may never hear about and who have experienced these horrors together with us in Aleppo, Ghouta and now in Idleb. Thank you to the IDA and to all documentary filmmakers who are changing the world with their films.”

The 2019 Awards will be presented during a ceremony at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on Saturday, December 7. Tickets are on sale now and press registration is open now.

IDA members will have the opportunity to vote online for Best Feature and Best Short starting November 4, 2019, and ending on December 2. For more on how to become an IDA member visit: documentary.org/membership.

This year the IDA received 785 submissions including 375 documentary features, 153 documentary shorts, 124 documentary series, 89 student films, 48 music documentaries and 44 podcasts. A record forty percent of submissions were international productions or co-productions.

James Costa, co-chair of the Feature Documentary Nominating Committee and IDA board of directors’ co-vice president, said, “Thirty films on the IDA shortlist were considered for the Best Feature and Best Director awards. The dedication that all these filmmakers put into their films was incredibly impressive, and their work was honored by a deliberation process that was fair, thought-provoking, and respectful of the differing opinions of jury members. In the end, we were all in agreement that these were the ten best feature documentaries of the year.”

The 2019 IDA Documentary Awards are sponsored by: Netflix, SHOWTIME® Documentary Films, National Geographic Documentary Films, ABC News VideoSource, XTR, and Participant. The official Media Sponsor of the Awards is The Hollywood Reporter.


Best Feature Nominees

Advocate (Canada, Israel, Switzerland / Film Movement. Directors and Producers: Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche. Producers: Paul Cadieux and Joelle Bertossa)

American Factory (USA / Netflix. Directors and Producers: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. Producers: Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benello)

Apollo 11 (USA / NEON and CNN Films. Director and Producer: Todd Douglas Miller. Producers: Thomas Petersen and Evan Strauss)

For Sama (Syria, UK / PBS Distribution, Channel 4, FRONTLINE. Director and Producer: Waad al-Kateab. Director: Edward Watts)

Honeyland (Macedonia / NEON. Director: Tamara Kotevska. Director and Producer: Ljubomir Stefanov. Producer: Atanas Georgiev)

Midnight Family (Mexico, USA / 1091. Director and Producer: Luke Lorentzen. Producers: Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre and Elena Fortes)

One Child Nation (USA / Amazon Studios. Directors and Producers: Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang. Producers: Christoph Jörg, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements and Carolyn Hepburn)

Sea of Shadows (Austria, USA / National Geographic. Director: Richard Ladkani. Producers: Walter Kohler and Wolfgang Knopfler)

The Biggest Little Farm (USA / NEON, LD Entertainment. Director and Producer: John Chester. Producer: Sandra Keats)

The Edge of Democracy (Brazil, USA / Netflix. Director and Producer: Petra Costa. Producers: Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris and Tiago Pavan)


Best Director Nominees

Petra Costa (The Edge of Democracy. Brazil, USA / Netflix)

Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche (Advocate. Canada, Israel, Switzerland / Film Movement)

Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (American Factory. USA / Netflix)

Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov (Honeyland. Macedonia / NEON)

Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts (For Sama. Syria, UK / PBS Distribution, Channel 4, FRONTLINE)


Best Short Nominees

A Love Song for Latasha (USA. Director and Producer: Sophia Nahli Allison. Producers: Janice Duncan and Fam Udeorji)

After Maria (USA / Netflix. Director: Nadia Hallgren. Producer: Lauren Cioffi)

America (USA / Aubin Pictures. Director: Garrett Bradley. Producers: Lauren Domino and Catherine Gund)

Black to Techno (USA / Frieze. Director: Jenn Nkiru. Producer: Jacqueline Edenbrow)

Easter Snap (USA. Director and Producer: RaMell Ross. Producers: Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim)

In the Absence (Korea, USA / Field of Vision. Director: Yi Seung-Jun. Producer: Gary Byung-Seok Kam)

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you're a girl) (Afghanistan, UK, USA / Lifetime Films, A&E IndieFilms. Director: Carol Dysinger. Producer: Elena Andreicheva)

Sam and the Plant Next Door (UK / The Guardian. Director and Producer: Omer Sami)

The Nightcrawlers (Philippines, USA / National Geographic. Director: Alexander Mora. Producers: Joanna Natasegara, Doireann Maddock and Abigail Anketell-Jones)

Valley of the Rulers (Israel, Serbia. Director: Efim Graboy. Producer: Dejan Petrovic)


Best Curated Series Nominees

American Experience (USA / PBS. Executive Producer: Mark Samels)

BBC Storyville (China, Hungary, UK / BBC. Executive Producer: Mandy Chang)

Dokumania (Denmark / Danish Broadcasting Corporation. Executive Producer: Anders Bruus)

POV (USA / PBS. Executive Producers: Justine Nagan and Chris White)

AJE Witness (Qatar / AJE English. Executive Producer: Fiona Lawson-Baker)


Best Episodic Series Nominees

Abstract: The Art of Design (USA / Netflix. Executive Producers: Scott Dadich, Morgan Neville, Dave O'Connor, Justin Wilkes and Jon Kamen)

Finding Justice (USA / BET. Executive Producers: Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, David Leepson, Brian Gewirtz, dream hampton, Jackson Nguyen, Aaron Rice, Todd Crites, Hiram Garcia, Aaron Bowden and Stephanie Lydecker)

Kids Behind Bars: Life Or Parole (USA / A&E. Executive Producers: Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Peter LoGreco, Joshua Rofe, Devon Hammonds, Evan Lerner, Amy Savitsky and Elaine Frontain Bryant)

Living Undocumented (USA / Netflix. Directors and Executive Producers: Anna Chai and Aaron Saidman. Executive Producers: Eli Holzman, Sean O'Grady, Selena Gomez and Mandy Teefey)

Our Planet (UK, USA / Netflix. Directors: Adam Chapman, Mandi Stark, Jeff Wilson, Sophie Lanfear, Hugh Pearson and Huw Cordey. Executive Producers: Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey)


Best Multi-Part Documentary Nominees

Chasing the Moon (USA / PBS. Director and Producer: Robert Stone. Executive Producer: Mark Samels. Producers: Susan Bellows, Daniel Aegerter, Keith Haviland and Ray Rothrock)

Leaving Neverland (USA / HBO. Director and Producer: Dan Reed. Executive Producers: Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller)

Lorena (USA / Amazon. Director and Executive Producer: Joshua Rofé. Executive Producers: Jordan Peele, Steven J. Berger, Win Rosenfeld, Jenna Santoianni, Tom Lesinski and Andrea Harner. Producer: M. Elizabeth Hughes)

Surviving R. Kelly (USA / Lifetime. Executive Producers: Joel Karsberg, dream hampton, Tamra Simmons, Jesse Daniels and Brie Miranda Bryant)

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men (USA / Showtime. Executive Producers: Peter J. Scalettar, Peter Bittenbender, Sacha Jenkins and Vinnie Malhotra)


Best Short Form Series Nominees

A Cure for Fear (USA / Topic.com. Director and Producer: Lana Wilson. Producer: Shrihari Sathe. Executive Producers: Anna Holmes, Jeff Seelbach and Diane L. Max)

A Moment in MexicoThe New York Times Op-Docs (Mexico, USA / New York Times. Executive Producer: Kathleen Lingo. Coordinating Producer: Lindsay Crouse)

Guardian Documentaries (UK / The Guardian. Executive Producer: Charlie Phillips, Lindsay Poulton and Jacqueline Edenbrow) 

POV Shorts (USA / PBS. Producer: Chloe Gbai. Executive Producers: Justine Nagan and Chris White)

The F Word (USA / SoulPancake. Director and Producer: Nico Opper. Producer: Kristan Cassady)


Best Audio Documentary Nominees

Gladiator: The Aaron Hernandez Story (USA / The Boston Globe, Wondery. Reporters: Bob Hohler, Beth Healy, Sacha Pfieffer and Andrew Ryan. Producer: Amy Pedulla. Executive Producers: Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy and George Lavender)

Headlong: Running from COPS (USA / Stitcher Premium, Topic Studios. Host and Producer: Dan Taberski. Producers: Henry Molofsky, Courtney Harrell and Diane Hodson. Executive Producers: Max Linsky, Jenna Weiss-Berman, Lisa Leingang and Leital Molad)

Heavyweight Episode: "Skye" (USA / Gimlet Media. Reporter and Executive Producer: Jonathan Goldstein. Producers: Kalila Holt, Stevie Lane, Peter Bresnan and Jorge Just)

Latino USA Episode: "The Return" (USA / National Public Radio. Producer: Sayre Quevedo. Executive Producer: Maria Hinojosa)

A Sense of Quietness (UK / BBC Radio 4. Producer: Eleanor McDowall. Executive Producers: Alan Hall and Rachel Hooper)


Best Music Documentary Nominees

Amazing Grace (USA / NEON. Producers: Alan Elliot, Tirrell D. Whittley, Sabrina V. Owens, Joe Boyd, Rob Johnson, Chiemi Karasawa, Spike Lee, Angie Seegers, Joseph Woolf)

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (USA / Netflix. Director and Producer: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Director: Ed Burke. Producers: Steve Pamon and Erinn Williams)

The Apollo (USA / HBO. Director and Producer: Roger Ross Williams. Producers: Lisa Cortés, Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann)

The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash (USA / YouTube. Director: Thom Zimny. Producers: Thom Zimny, Glen Zipper, Sean Stuart and Jillian Apfelbaum)

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men (USA / Showtime. Director: Sacha Jenkins. Executive Producers: Peter J. Scalettar, Peter Bittenbender, Sacha Jenkins and Vinnie Malhotra. Producers: Cary Graber, Vanessa Maruskin, Ghostface Killah, Robert F. Diggs, GZA, Lamont "UGod" Hawkins, Darryl Hill Sr., Jason Hunter, Icelene Jones, Method Man, E. Turner and Raekwon The Chef)


David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award Nominees

All That Remains (USA / UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Director and Producer: Eva Rendle)

Beyond the North Winds: A Post Nuclear Reverie (UK, Colombia / National Film & Television School (UK). Director and Producer: Natalie Cubides-Brady)

Brewed in Palestine (USA, Israel, Palestine / UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Director and Producer: Emma Schwartz)

Follow the Sun (USA / UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Director and Producer: JoeBill Muñoz)

In the Wake (India, USA / Northwestern University. Director and Producer: Natasha Nair)


Best Cinematography Nominees

Dark Suns (Canada / Dogwoof. Cinematographers: Ernesto Pardo and François Messier-Rheault)

Gods of Molenbeek (Belgium, Finland, Germany / CAT&Docs. Cinematographer: Hannu Vitikainen)

Honeyland (Macedonia / NEON. Cinematographers: Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma)

Midnight Family (Mexico / 1091. Cinematographer: Luke Lorentzen)

When Lambs Become Lions (USA / Oscilloscope Laboratories. Cinematographer: Jon Kasbe)


Best Editing Nominees

American Factory (USA / Netflix. Editor: Lindsay Utz)

Apollo 11 (USA / NEON, CNN Films. Editor: Todd Douglas Miller)

Diego Maradona (UK / HBO. Editor: Chris King)

Human Nature (USA / Greenwich Entertainment. Editor: Regina Sobel and Steve Tyler)

Midnight Family (Mexico, USA / 1091. Editor: Luke Lorentzen. Co-Editor: Paloma López Carrillo)

When Lambs Become Lions (USA / Oscilloscope Laboratories. Editors: Jon Kasbe, Caitlyn Greene and Frederick Shanahan)


Best Music Score Nominees

Apollo 11 (USA / NEON and CNN Films. Composer: Matt Morton)

Human Nature (USA / Greenwich Entertainment. Composer: Keegan Dewitt)

Sea of Shadows (USA, Austria / National Geographic. Composer: H. Scott Salinas)

The Biggest Little Farm (USA / NEON, LD Entertainment. Composer: Jeff Beal)

The Raft (Denmark, Sweden, USA / Metrograph Pictures. Composer: Hans Appelqvist)


Best Writing Nominees

Always in Season (USA / ITVS. Writers: Jackie Olive and Don Bernier)

Dark Suns (Canada / Dogwoof. Writer: Julien Elie)

The Cave (Denmark, Syria, USA / National Geographic. Writer: Feras Fayyad)

The Edge of Democracy (Brazil, USA / Netflix. Writer: Petra Costa. Co-writers: Carol Pires, David Barker and Moara Passoni)

The Great Hack (USA / Netflix. Writers: Pedro Kos, Erin Barnett and Karim Amer)

Contact Information

The 2050 Group
Adam J. Segal
212-642-4317
adam@the2050group.com