Documentaries 2019: Great Year for Non-Fictional Features

For Sama won the top prize of best feature at the International Documentary Association’s 2019 awards, which took place at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.

The film’s director-producer Waad Al-Kateab also received the Courage Under Fire Award.

American Factory helmers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert won the IDA’s first best director award.

Other high-profile projects that won IDA awards include HBO’s Michael Jackson doc Leaving Neverland (best multi-part documentary) and Netflix’s Beyoncé concert film Homecoming (best music documentary).

Pare Lorentz Award winner Honeyland also won best cinematography.

IDA executive director Simon Kilmurry praised the all of the winners’ work, saying that it “boldly engages with and responds to the tumultuous times we live in, it is a call for justice, it enlightens and entertains us, it gives us hope, and it introduces us to people, places, and ideas that will stay with us forever.”

Additional honorary awards were presented to Cinereach (Pioneer Award), Knock Down the House director Rachel Lears (Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award), Freida Lee Mock (Career Achievement Award), Leah Remini (Truth to Power Award) and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (Amicus Award).

The IDA also announced a new global grant, underwritten by Netflix, which will in its first year provide a $25,000 cash award and ongoing support to an emerging filmmaker from Braxil, Mexico, South Korea or India.

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

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, CNN Films. Director and Producer: Todd Douglas Miller. Producers: Thomas Petersen and Evan Strauss) 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)