Liz Garbus’s Bobby Fischer against the World (pictured) picked up the Best Cinema Documentary prize at the 40th annual Grierson British Documentary Awards in London, while BBC2 show Protecting Our Children won Best Documentary Series.
Garbus’s film, which beat nominees including James Marsh’s Project Nim and Ian Palmer’s Knuckle, looks at the life of the late titular American chess genius. It aired in the UK on BBC ‘Storyville’ and in the U.S. on HBO, getting theatrical runs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Elsewhere, the prize for Most Entertaining Documentary went to director Phil Cox for The Bengali Detective, while the award for Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – Domestic went to Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die.
The latter doc, which sees author Sir Terry Pratchett exploring Alzheimer’s and assisted suicide, was praised by jury chairman Simon Dickson as being “beautifully cast and genuinely revelatory.”
Dawn Airey, chairman of The Grierson Trust, told attendees at the awards: “This year’s ceremony is all the more notable as it is now 40 years since the death of John Grierson and the creation of these awards. Since its inception we have presented 140 awards and this year demonstrates what rude health the genre is in with a record number of entries.
“From relatively modest beginnings the Grierson Awards are now truly international and rightly considered the documentary world’s equivalent to the Oscars. The past few months have demonstrated more than ever the vital role factual film-makers continue to play in not only illuminating the world around us but also in exposing wrong doing and injustice.”
The ceremony, hosted by artist Grayson Perry, also saw Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald take to the stage to accept the Grierson Trustees’ Award.
The full list of winners follows below:
Most Entertaining Documentary
The Bengali Detective
Phil Cox for Native Voice Films; first shown: Cambridge Film Festival
Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – Domestic
Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die
Charlie Russell for Keo North; first shown: BBC2
Best Science Documentary
After Life: The Strange Science of Decay
Fred Hepburn, Dani Carlaw for BBC Scotland; first shown: BBC4
Best Newcomer Documentary
Leo Maguire for ClearStory; first shown: Channel 4
Best Cinema Documentary
Bobby Fischer against the World
Liz Garbus for Moxie Firecracker Films; first shown: General theatrical release
Best Historical Documentary
The Love of Books: A Sarajevo Story
Sam Hobkinson for Oxford Film and Television; first shown: BBC4
Best Student Documentary
Karen Winther for National Film & Television School; first shown: BFI Southbank, London
Best Arts Documentary
Culture Show: Jeremy Deller – Middle Class Hero
Jack Cocker for BBC Scotland; first shown: BBC2
Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – International
Hell and Back Again
Danfung Dennis for Roast Beef Productions; first shown: More 4
Best Documentary Series
Protecting Our Children
Sacha Mirzoeff, Emma Burman for BBC Productions; first shown: BBC2