Festivals, Events and Awards

Doc-makers with the right stuff win at the Writers Guild Awards; U.K. indies get the chance to chat with the Beeb's Jana Bennett; SXSW fest announces its top films
March 13, 2003

The winners of the 55th Annual Writers Guild Awards for excellence in writing for the screen, TV and radio were handed out on March 8. Michael Moore made history by becoming the first to win a best original screenplay award for a documentary, for Bowling for Columbine. Other winners include Tom Forman and Greg Kandra for 9/11 (best documentary, current events), and Christine Lesiak for Monkey Trial, from PBS strand ‘American Experience’ (best doc, other than current events).

BBC Television is holding a briefing day for independent producers on April 1 in London, U.K. The one-day event will give Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) members the opportunity to meet with Jana Bennett, director of television, as well as various BBC genre controllers and commissioners. To attend, visit the PACT website at, download an invitation and send it in. This event is open to PACT members only.

The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin, U.S., has announced the winners of its awards. The jury award for best documentary feature went to Flag Wars (by Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras), and a special jury award for doc feature went to Jon E. Edwards Is in Love (by Chris Bradley and Kyle La Brache. The audience awards went to Girlhood (by Liz Garbus) for documentary feature and The Flute Player (by Jocelyn Glatzer) for documentary first film. SXSW continues until March 15.

Also wrapped is the 18th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (February 28 to March 9). The SBIFF announced the winners of its official competition sections – the documentary jury prize was awarded to Jeff Blitz for the Oscar-nominated Spellbound; the Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award went to local filmmaker Renee Bergan for her doc Sadaa E Zan; and the audience award for best documentary went to Tibet: the Cry of the Snow Lion by Tom Peosay.

The International Documentary Association has announced that actor Jeff Goldblum will host the 21st annual celebration of the Academy Award documentary nominees on March 19 at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, U.S. The program will include clips from the films and a reception. Tickets are available to the public. For more info, go to

Additionally, the IDA and the Sundance Channel will present a day of screenings of the Oscar-nominated docs. DocuDay will be held on March 22 in Beverly Hills, U.S. Screenings will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers. For more info and to buy tickets, visit

Financial aid covering the cost of registration is available for qualified filmmakers interested in attending the 49th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar (June 14 to 20) in New York, U.S. The grants are sponsored by International Film Seminars. The deadline for applications is April 18. For details, visit and go to the Scholarships section.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation is hosting The Best of INPUT in Toronto. The one-day event (March 22) will give CBC staff and the local production community the chance to screen and discuss the programs that were brought back from the 2002 INPUT international TV conference in Rotterdam. All the programs were produced by and for public broadcasters. See to register.

Toronto, Canada-based doc fest Hot Docs has announced its 2003 Blue Ribbon Jury, which will decide the award winners from among over 100 films. They will choose best Canadian, international and first documentaries, as well as best direction and a humanitarian award, both for Canadian docs. The jury includes Frances Hendron (Celtic Film Festival) and Diane Weyermann (Sundance Institute) as well as Canadian filmmakers Magnus Isacsson, Peter Wintonick and Alanis Obomsawin. For details, go to

The Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, U.S., concluded its 13th edition on March 9. Organizers announced its award winners: Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer) and Clown in Kabul (by Enzo Balestrieri and Stefano Moser) tied for best feature documentary. Our House (by Sevan Matossian) won the audience award for best doc.

The Beverly Hills Film Festival (May 8 to 11) in Los Angeles, U.S., is accepting short and feature submissions in all sorts of categories, including docs. The deadline is March 15, but late submissions will be accepted until April 1. For more info, visit

The deadline for submissions to the Blue Sky International Film Festival (dates not yet announced) in Las Vegas, U.S., is March 31. Visit for more information.

The Artsfest Film Festival (May 24 to 26) is looking for submissions to its fifth annual event in Harrisburg, U.S. The deadline is April 1. For details, go to

The International Scientific Film Festival (September 27 to October 2) in Szolnok, Hungary, is accepting entries for its event until March 31. Any film that is related to science is welcome. For details, visit

The Mar del Plata International Film Festival (March 6 to 15) is under way in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Self-billed as the ‘most relevant competitive festival in the continent’, the event was held annually from its inception in 1959 till 1970. Revived in 1996 after a 26-year hiatus, this year’s event is its 18th edition. New this year is Ventana Documental, a documentary section that will screen 10 films with social and political themes. For more info, visit

The National Association of Television Program Executives’ (NATPE) Educational Foundation has issued a call for entries for its annual Student Video & Film Production Awards. The awards are open to full-time undergraduate college or university students. Entries must be entirely original, under two minutes in length and may be non-fiction or fiction. The deadline is May 5. For full details, visit

The National Press Photographers’ Association (NPPA) doled out its 2003 television photojournalism awards on March 7. The winner in the documentary category was Bill Masure of Denver, U.S.-based CBS affiliate KCNC for Lexi and Syd.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.