Women Honored at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards — Jennifer Merin reports
Jane (as in Goodall) was awarded the top honor of Best Documentary and filmmaker Ceyda Torun’s Kedi won the award for Best First Documentary at the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards gala, held on November 2 at BRIC in Brooklyn, New York. Continue reading…
In Jane, documentarian Brett Morgan pays tribute to the legendary Goodall, now age 83, using previously unseen archival footage to illustrate the early days of her illustrious career as primologist, enthnologist, anthropologist, environmentalist and UN Ambassador of Peace.
Jane was one of 16 films nominated for Best Documentary. The others included femme-helmed Beware the Slenderman (directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky) Faces Places (co-directed by Agnes Varda and JR), Kedi (directed by Ceyla Torun), and One of Us (directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady).
Ceyda Torun’s Kedi garnered the award for Best First Documentary, and was nominated for Most Innovative Documentary. Kedi is all about Istanbul’s remarkable population cats with distinctive and very compelling personalities. The people who interact with the felines are present, too, of course. But the cats are the stars of the show, and they were cited and honored at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards as among the most compelling living subjects in this year’s crop of documentary films.
The cats from Kedi were not at the awards ceremony, but several women who were honored in the Compelling Living Subject category were in the house. Dolores Huerta, the unstoppable civil rights activist, is the subject of director Peter Bratt’s Dolores, which was nominated for Best Political Documentary. Also present was Etty, the young woman whose struggle to free herself from restraints imposed by the insular Brooklyn Hassidic community is chronicled in One of Us. Compelling Living Subject Gigi Lazzarato, the Canadian transgender model and spokeswoman whose story is told in This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, was not present, but the film’s director, Barbara Kopple was there to present the CCDA Impact Award to Joe Berlinger. All received enthusiastic ovations.
The Critics Choice Documentary Awards nominating committees recognized additional female-directed films with nominations in various categories. Step, directed by Amanda Lipitz, and Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan (and Damon Davis) were nominated for Best First Documentary. Most Innovative Documentary nominees included Casting JonBenet, directed by Kitty Green, and Karl Marx City, directed by Petra Epperlein (and Michael Tucker). Nominated for Best Political Documentary were The Reagan Show, directed by Sierra Pettengill (and Pacho Velez), and An Inconvenient Truth: Truth to Power, directed by Bonni Cohen (and Jon Shenk), as well as 11/8/16, the nationwide election day documentary that was filmed by a consortium of 18 filmmakers, seven of whom are women. Nominees for Best Sports Documentary included Speed Sisters, directed by Amber Fares, and Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, directed by Rory Kennedy, as well as Trophy, directed by Christina Clusiau (and Shaul Schwarz). In the Best Music Documentary category, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World, directed by Catherine Bainbridge (and Alfonso Maiorana), was nominated.
The Critics Choice Documentary Awards represent an important initiative in recognizing heightened audience interest in documentary films released theatrically and/or online. BFCA/BTJA is the first and thus far only critics group to respond to the trend and shift in audience behavior. In his awards ceremony welcoming speech, BFCA/BTJAPresident Joey Berlin said, “We are so happy to be able to celebrate the supremely talented, leading voices in this golden age of documentary filmmaking and nonfiction television, supporting many of the most
underappreciated artists in our business.” That, of course, includes the many women who are struggling for equal opportunity and recognition in filmmaking and all aspects of the movie business.
SOME RELEVANT FACTS AND STATS:
The Critics Choice Documentary Award winners were determined by voting among BFCA/BTJA members who’d seen all of the nominees. BFCA/BTJA also presents the Critics Choice Awards for narrative films that are released during that year and television programming.
Roughly 25 percent of BFCA members are women and approximately 33 percent of BTJA members are women — with some membership overlap between the affiliated organizations. One of the eight members of BFCA/BTJA Board of Directors is a woman.
AWFJ members who are also members of BFCA/BTJA include Anne Brodie, Susan Granger, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Katherine Monk, Rebecca Murray, Perri Nemiroff, Katey Rich, Lisa Rosman, Shelli Sonstein, Sara Voorhees, Susan Wloszczyna, Jeanne Wolf and Doeothy Woodend.
(In full disclosure) Jennifer Merin is chair of the Critics Choice Documentary Awards Theatrical Releases Nominating Committee.
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) is a partner organization to the BFCA and includes TV, radio and Internet journalists who cover television on a regular basis. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com
COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS OF THE SECOND ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS
Best Documentary - Jane
Best Director (TIE) – Evgeny Afineevsky (Cries from Syria) and Frederick Wiseman (Ex Libris: The New York Public Library)
Best First Documentary - Kedi
Best Political Documentary - Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Best Sports Documentary - Icarus
Best Music Documentary - Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives
Best Song in a Documentary - “Jump” (Step) – written by Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson and Laura Karpman, performed by Cynthia Erivo
Best Documentary Series - The Vietnam War
Best Ongoing Documentary Series - American Masters
Most Innovative Documentary (TIE) - Dawson City: Frozen Time and Last Men in Aleppo