Grierson Trust reveals 2020 British Documentary Awards shortlist

The 2020 British Documentary Awards shortlist has been revealed by The Grierson Trust, in association with All3Media. The three films shortlisted in multiple categories include BBC2′s War in the Blood: A Cure for ...
July 23, 2020

The 2020 British Documentary Awards shortlist has been revealed by The Grierson Trust, in association with All3Media.

The three films shortlisted in multiple categories include BBC2′s War in the Blood: A Cure for Cancer (Single Documentary – Domestic and Science), which follows two patients through groundbreaking ‘first in-human’ trials for a treatment claimed to be the end of cancer; Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht’s Crip Camp (Single Documentary – International and Historical), which tells the story of a 1970s ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers; and Channel 4′s Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain (Historical and Series), which explores the life story of the late reality star Jade Goody.

“This year’s shortlist showcases the creativity and fearlessness of the world’s filmmakers as they take viewers to the heart of issues affecting all our lives,” said Lorraine Heggessey, chair of The Grierson Trust, in a statement. “I’m also thrilled that 2020 shortlist represents the biggest range of channels, broadcasters and platforms to date, as commissioners recognize the crucial role the documentary plays in every schedule.”

The Grierson juries — which includes doc-makers, broadcasters, critics and subject experts — will now review the 104 shortlisted films and eight presenters to whittle the nominations down to final nominations and judging ahead of the 48th annual awards ceremony on Nov. 10.

Last year, the BBC received the most entries, and this year the UK pubcaster dominated again with 44 nominations in the running. Netflix was next with 12 entries ahead of Channel 4, which picked up 11 nods. ITV, meanwhile, received five noms and Sky received three while Al Jazeera, Apple+, National Geographic and Amazon Prime received two apiece. Channel 5, Discovery, S4C, BT, ESPN, YouTube and Fields of Vision had one entry each.

A selection of shortlisted programs are listed below with credits supplied by The Grierson Trust:

Best Single Documentary – Domestic

The Case of Sally Challen
Minnow Films for BBC2

Eirlys, Tim a Dementia (Eirlys, Tim and Dementia)
Cwmni Da for S4C

The Family Secret
Candour Productions for Channel 4

Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth
Grain Media in association with Glimmer Films & The Guardian for Sheffield Doc/Fest

The Street
WagonTrail Productions for General theatrical release

Suicidal: In Our Own Words
Proper Content for Channel 5

Tell Me Who I Am
Lightbox for Netflix

War in the Blood
Minnow Films for BBC2

Best Single Documentary – International

Higher Ground Productions & Netflix for General theatrical release

Crip Camp (pictured)
A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation for Netflix

The Day California Burned
Brook Lapping Productions & BBC Current Affairs London for BBC Two

Ethiopia-Eritrea: Rebirth at the Border
BBC for BBC World Service YouTube channel

The Great Hack
A Noujaim Films Production & an othrs Production for Netflix

A High School Rape Goes Viral: Roll Red Roll
Sunset Park Pictures & Brass Mill Media for BBC3

I Am Duran
Ad Hoc Films for Amazon Prime, Sky & BT TV

Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein
Lightbox for BBC2

Best Current Affairs Documentary              

Al Jazeera Investigations: Diplomats for Sale
Al Jazeera Media Network for Al Jazeera

The Nightcrawlers
Violet Films for National Geographic

Prince Andrew and the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview
BBC Newsnight for BBC2

Sex for Grades
BBC World Service for BBC Africa

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Nigeria’s Female Suicide Bombers
BBC Northern Ireland for BBC3

Storyville: On the President’s Orders
Mongoose Pictures for BBC4

Undercover with the Clerics
BBC News Arabic for BBC News Arabic

Undercover: Inside China’s Digital Gulag
Hardcash Productions for ITV

Best Historical Documentary   

Apollo 11
Statement Pictures for General theatrical release

Crip Camp   
A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation for Netflix

Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret – Episode 2
Top Hat Productions for BBC2

A House Through Time – Episode 1
Twenty Twenty Productions for BBC2

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain – Episode 1
Blast! Films for Channel 4

The Last Dance – Episode 7
ESPN Film & Netflix present a Mandalay Sports Media Production in association with NBA Entertainment for Netflix & ESPN 

Lost Lives
DoubleBand for BBC One Northern Ireland

Rise of the Nazis – Episode 1
72 Films for BBC2

Best Science Documentary   

8 Days: To the Moon and Back
BBC Studios – The Science Unit & The Open University for BBC2

The Big Picture – The World According to AI: The Bias in the Machine
Al Jazeera English for Al Jazeera

Einstein’s Quantum Riddle
Windfall Films for BBC4

Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal
RAW for BBC2

Meat: A Threat to Our Planet?
RAW for BBC1

War in the Blood
Minnow Films for BBC2 

What’s the Matter with Tony Slattery?
Sundog Pictures for BBC2

When Bridges Collapse: The Genoa Disaster
Windfall Films for BBC2

Best Natural History Documentary

The Elephant Queen        
Apple, Mister Smith & Deeble & Stone for Apple TV+

The Last Igloo    
Swan Films for BBC4

The Octopus in my House
Passion Planet for BBC2

Seven Worlds, One Planet: Antarctica        
BBC Studios Natural History Unit for BBC1

The Story of Plastic          
The Story of Stuff Project in association with React to Film for Discovery

Takaya: Lone Wolf            
Talesmith, Cineflix & Wild Wolf Media for BBC4

Tigers: Hunting the Traffickers      
Grain Media for BBC2

Wild Cuba: A Caribbean Journey  
Crossing the Line Productions for BBC2

Best Documentary Series

24 Hours in Police Custody            
The Garden Productions for Channel 4

The Devil Next Door         
One Man Show & Submarine Deluxe Production in association with Yes Studios for Netflix

Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer    
RAW for Netflix

Hometown: A Killing        
Forest & 7 Wonder for BBC3

Hospital: Coronavirus Special        
Label 1 for BBC2

The Innocence Files          
A Story Syndicate Production & Jigsaw Production in association with Endeavor Content & One Story Up for Netflix

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain
Blast! Films for Channel 4

The Pharmacist  
The Cinemart for Netflix

Best Cinema Documentary

American Factory
Higher Ground Productions & Participant Media for Netflix for General theatrical release

For Sama
ITN Productions

Production Team

Midnight Family
Production Team

Midnight Traveller
Production Team

Mike Wallace is Here
Production Team

Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Ghost Pictures & Passion Pictures

Talking About Trees
Agat Films


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.