The second annual iEmmy Festival (November 17 and 18) brought together the world’s preeminent producers for a two-day festival of screenings, panels and networking
at New York’s University Club. Categories included drama, popular arts, performing arts, documentary, arts documentary, children and young people, and news. Over 500 submissions were received, with drama and documentary being in the majority. Preliminary screenings took place in New York last summer. Those selected were sent to Canada, Europe and Asia for further judging. Final judging took place in Manhattan and Los Angeles. Three finalists were selected in each category and excerpts from their films screened at the festival. Criteria for submission are that the program be produced and receive initial broadcast outside of the U.S. within the last 12 months.
Screenings and subsequent discussions revealed that producers will go to the ends of the earth (quite literally) to tell a good story, often at great personal risk. In the news category, the BBC’s Correspondent Inside Chechnya, produced in association with Wilton Films (U.K.), revealed how war is never just about professional soldiers and armies, but affects civilians, especially the young and the elderly. Chile: Torturers Running Free, a Tony Comiti Production/Metropole Television France, explores how the quest for justice, and lack of its administration, can impact the lives of both victims and perpetrators of state sanctioned violence. The iEmmy Award winner for the news category, The Mozambique Floods (from the U.K.’s ITN), captured the horror of a natural disaster.
In the documentary category, Stolen Generations from Jotz Productions (Australia), chronicles the Australian government’s policy of assimilation for native aboriginals. Playing the China Card: Nixon and Mao, from Brook Lapping Productions, U.K., describes how the American president deceived Congress, the American people, and his own administration in an effort to please Communist China. The winner for the documentary category, Kapo, offers a rare and compelling glimpse into a little known side of 20th century history: Jewish collaboration with the Nazis. Produced by Set Productions of Israel, the film is a sensitive documentary showing the complexity of judging people who endured the unbearable, where the distinctions between right and wrong, death and survival were obfuscated.
In the arts doc category, Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs from Tiger Aspect Production (U.K.) presents a history of music. Episode one presents the invention of musical notation by 11th century choirmaster Guido d’Arezzo, changing the history of music in much the same way that the invention of the steam engine changed the history of Great Britain. The BBC’s Tell Me the Truth About Love portrays 20th century poet W.H. Auden’s lifelong quest to define the nature of love and friendship. The iEmmy recipient Jazzman From the Gulag from France 3/Ideale Audience chronicles the extraordinary life of Eddie Rosner, the first jazz musician of the communist world, and a man whom Louis Armstrong nicknamed the ‘White Armstrong.’ Persecuted by the Nazis as a degenerate musician, he gave private performances for Stalin before being banished to the Gulag. Rehabilitated under Khruschev, he escaped to Berlin, where he died shortly thereafter. Rare archival footage, on-location shots and interviews with many who knew him present an intimate portrait, as well as a harrowing tale of the 20th century’s darker history.
The International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is accepting entries for the 2001 International Emmy Award. The submission deadline is April 13. Rules and regulations may be found at http://www.iemmys.tv.