“Citizenfour,” “Virunga” take Doc Impact Awards

Laura Poitras' NSA whistleblower doc Citizenfour (pictured) and Orlando von Einsiedel's Congo park protection pic Virunga are among the five feature films to be honored at the fifth annual Doc Impact Award ceremony.
February 26, 2016

Laura Poitras‘ NSA whistleblower doc Citizenfour (pictured) and Orlando von Einsiedel’s Congo park protection pic Virunga are among the five feature films to be honored by the fifth annual Doc Impact Award ceremony.

The award, which celebrates the documentaries making the greatest impact on society, was also handed out to Jeff Orlowski‘s Chasing Ice, following photographer James Balog’s attempts to reverse the tide on climate change; Sanjay Rawal’s Food Chains, exposing mistreatment of farm workers in the U.S.; and Rehad Desai‘s Miners Shot Down, detailing the deaths of 34 miners in South Africa in 2012.

Recipients will each receive a US$5,000 donation from The Fledgling Fund aimed at rewarding the filmmakers’ commitments to provoking change.

In addition to the awards, five comprehensive Impact Reports have been published on the winning films detailing the efforts of each film and their campaign partners. These case studies will allow other filmmakers to utilize these guidelines to create impact-driven films.

Winners were chosen by a panel of 10 organizations who were asked to nominate five films that had developed impressive social change campaigns. Nominated filmmakers were then asked to provide reports that detailed the film’s campaign and data that provided evidence of the film’s impact. The longlist was then whittled down to a shortlist of 12 films.

Voting organizations included the Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Participant Media, Bertha Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Compton Foundation, The Center for Media & Social Impact, The Fledgling Fund, BRITDOC Foundation and Media Impact Funders.

A further $5,000 will be awarded to the film that receives the most support through tweets in the days following the announcement via the #DocImpactHi5 Award, which will be awarded on March 1st.

Previously honored films include Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster’s American Promise, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish, Lee Hirsch’s Bully, Josh Fox‘s Gasland, Kirby Dick‘s The Invisible War, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal‘s Trouble the Water, and Callum Macrae’s No Fire Zone.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.