The second annual Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film has been awarded to the feature documentary Hold Your Fire, directed by Stefan Forbes (Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story).
Produced by Amir Soltani and Tia Wou, the film (pictured) will receive a US$200,000 finishing grant to assist with post-production costs.
The award – overseen by the Library of Congress, acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns, the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation and non-profit The Better Angels Society – will be presented at a virtual ceremony Oct. 20.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Burns, and composer and musician Wynton Marsalis will gather for a conversation as part of the ceremony.
Hold Your Fire delves into the untold story behind the longest hostage siege in New York Police Department history and the birth of modern hostage negotiation.
Production on the film, which includes interviews with individuals on all sides of the conflict, began in 2014.
Weaving never-before-seen footage and photographs, filmmakers were granted access to NYPD personnel and materials with the help of William Batton, former New York Police Commissioner.
The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film recognizes a filmmaker whose documentary uses original research and compelling narrative to tell stories that touch on some aspect of American history.
An internal committee selected six finalists from 151 submissions, which were then reviewed by a national jury. Hayden, in consultation with Burns, selected the winning film.
The Better Angels Society is providing additional awards to the finalists.
Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer’s Cured received $50,000. The film tells the story of the activists who challenged the automatic classification of every gay man and woman as mentally ill.
The organization also awarded $25,000 grants to Hazel Gurland-Pooler’s Storming Ceasers Palace; Joe Winston’s Punch 9 for Harold Washington; Tasha Van Zandt’s After Antartica; and Jennifer Lin and Sharon Mullally’s Beethoven in Beijing.
At the Oct. 20 ceremony, The Better Angels Society will also announce The Better Angels Lavine Fellowship Program, a new mentorship program for filmmakers whose work explores inclusive stories in American history.
Each year, beginning in 2020, five filmmakers whose films are not selected as finalists for the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film but who demonstrate significant potential will be selected as fellows.
A panel of filmmakers will provide the fellows with mentorship, advice and networking opportunities around both their award submissions and their craft overall.
Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine have endowed the program with $1 million. It will run concurrently to the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film.