The winners of The Griersons 2011 – The British Documentary Awards have been named, with Clio Barnard’s The Arbor picking up the best cinema documentary award and Channel 4 series Hugh’s Fish Fight winning the best doc series prize.
Emma Hindley, jury chairman for the doc series award, said Hugh’s Fish Fight “was a brilliant piece of campaigning journalism,” adding that “with great passion, craft values and genuine integrity, it achieved something few TV series do: real impact, both on politics – in the shape of an EU recommendation for a discard ban – and on the suppliers, with major supermarkets agreeing to change some of the fishing methods of their suppliers.”
Elsewhere at the ceremony, held today at London’s BFI Southbank and hosted by presenter Mariella Frostrup (pictured above), the prize for most entertaining documentary was awarded to Bodysnatchers of New York, while the best historical documentary gong was awarded to Fire in Babylon.
The best newcomer award went to BBC Storyville’s Afghan Cricket Club – Out of the Ashes, while the best arts documentary was awarded to Leonard Cohen doc Bird on a Wire.
Chris Durlacher, jury chairman for the latter category, said: “Bird on a Wire is beautifully filmed and an intimate portrait of an artist at the peak of his talent. Although it was filmed almost 40 years ago, its recent official release means this is the first time this documentary has gained the distinction it richly deserves.”
In the two contemporary theme awards, the prize for best documentary on a contemporary theme – domestic went to Between Life and Death, while the international award was won by Secret Iraq – The Insurgency.
Finally, the best science documentary prize was won by The Joy of Stats, while Caring for Calum took the inaugural Best Student Documentary award.
Charlotte Moore, chair of the student doc jury, said of Calum: “The jury was hugely impressed by this beautifully observed, poetic film.
“Very much in control of his material, the director showed real maturity and vision, by allowing the man’s disturbing and surprising story to unravel gently to produce a film that is both touching and gripping in equal measure.”
The ceremony also saw acclaimed director John Pilger taking to the stage to accept his Grierson Trustees’ Award.
Earlier in the day, Dawn Airey, chairman of The Grierson Trust, opened the awards ceremony by telling attendees: “The creativity, dedication and determination displayed by this year’s award winners demonstrate what rude health the genre pioneered by John Grierson more than 80 years ago is in. It’s especially impressive when you consider the ever-increasing pressures filmmakers face.
“When it came to deciding the winners the judging day was once again robust and peppered with violent disagreements, but the final selection illustrates the sheer breadth and depth of subjects tackled by documentary makers. But it is absolutely right that these films should invoke strong passions and debate because that is precisely what documentary films should be doing in the wider world.
“It is that recognition by ones’ peers that should make winning a Grierson the high watermark of every documentary makers’ career.”
UK viewers will be able to see highlights of the awards in 11 mini-docs spread across the Sky Arts 1 schedule throughout November, or see the complete ceremony on Sky Anytime from November 8.