The International Documentary Association (IDA), the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), the Los Angeles Film Critics and the Boston Society of Film Critics have all named their best documentaries of the year.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association named Dror Moreh’s Israel/Palestine film The Gatekeepers (pictured above) as the year’s best documentary, with a runner-up mention for Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man.
Meanwhile, the Boston Society of Film Critics gave the Best Documentary prize to David France’s AIDS documentary How to Survive a Plague, with a runner-up commendation given to Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen Of Versailles. The Boston critics also feted France with the Best New Filmmaker prize.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the BIFA Best Documentary prize went to Bart Layton’s film The Imposter, which beat out Dreams of a Life, London: The Modern Babylon, Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir and Marley to take the gong.
In addition, Layton was also honored with The Douglas Hickox Award for Best Debut Director, beating four fiction narrative directors to receive the prize.
In Los Angeles, the IDA on Friday evening (December 7) announced its annual award winners, with Searching for Sugar Man taking the Best Feature Award. The victory saw the doc edging out The Central Park Five, The Invisible War, The Queen of Versailles and Women With Cows to take the prize.
The win continues the awards season momentum Sugar Man has been building after last week picking up the Best Documentary prize from The National Board of Review, and landing a spot among the 15 films shortlisted for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.
Elsewhere, the IDA’s Best Short Award went to Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-winning doc Saving Face; while the Best Limited Series Award went to Werner Herzog’s four-part Investigation Discovery series On Death Row.
The David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award went to Mark Kendall’s La Camioneta; while the Best Continuing Series Award went to PBS’s ‘American Masters,’ which triumphed against fellow PBS strands ‘Independent Lens’ and ‘POV’.
The ABC NEWS Videosource Award, which is given for the best use of news footage as an integral component in a documentary, went to Peter Getzels and Eduardo López’s Harvest of Empire; while Micha X. Peled’s Bitter Seeds won the Humanitas Documentary Award, which goes to a film exploring “the hopes and fears of human beings who are very different in culture, race, lifestyle, political loyalties and religious beliefs.”
Finally, Jon Shenk’s The Island President won the Pare Lorentz Award, which recognizes a doc “that demonstrates exemplary filmmaking while focusing on the appropriate use of the natural environment.”
The IDA also issued a number of Creative Recognition Awards, with the Best Editing prize going to Rodney Ascher’s Room 237 and the Best Cinematography gong going to Peter Gerdehag’s Women with Cows.
The prize for Best Music in a doc went to Searching for Sugar Man, while the award for Best Writing was given to Keith Patterson for Ann Richards’ Texas.
The IDA’s Pioneer Award went to the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and Fund, as previously reported; and the Career Achievement Award went to filmmaker Arnold Shapiro. The Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award went to Plague director France.