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DOC NYC reveals 2021 Visionaries Tribute award honorees

DOC NYC unveiled the honorees of its annual Visionaries Tribute on Thursday (Sept. 23). The festival will award Lifetime Achievement honors to Joan Churchill and Raoul Peck; the Robert and Anne ...
September 23, 2021

DOC NYC unveiled the honorees of its annual Visionaries Tribute on Thursday (Sept. 23).

The festival will award Lifetime Achievement honors to Joan Churchill and Raoul Peck; the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence will be presented to Peter Nicks; and the Leading Light Award will go to Chi-hui Yang, the senior program officer for Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative.

The annual Visionaries Tribute will occur as a private in-person event on Nov. 10 at Gotham Hall.

Churchill (pictured, left) will be honored by DOC NYC for her distinguished documentary career as a director, cameraperson and cinematographer. Her directing credits include Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Soldier Girls and Juvenile Liaison. She is also the first documentary-focused director of photography accepted into the American Society of Cinematographers.

Peck (pictured, right) meanwhile is being honored for his filmmaking with credits including the Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro, the four-part HBO Documentary Films series Exterminate All the Brutes, as well as Lumumba, Death of a Prophet and Fatal Assistance. Peck also spent 18 months as Haiti’s minister of culture, two years teaching at NYU and nine years as president of the French national film school La Fémis in Paris.

“When we began sharing our thoughts about honoring Joan Churchill and Raoul Peck with some members of the documentary community, we heard passionate support for both filmmakers,” said DOC NYC’s artistic director Thom Powers, in a statement.

“They are inspirational figures not only for what they’ve put on screen, but also for breaking ground in their careers for others to follow.”

Peter Nicks, an Emmy-winning director, producer and cinematographer, will receive the Documentary Excellence award, which goes to a mid-career filmmaker or partnership that excels in observational filmmaking. Nicks is known for his immersive documentaries like The Waiting Room, The Force and Homeroom, which explore health care, criminal justice and education in Oakland, California. Nicks also recently co-founded Proximity Media with fellow Oakland-based filmmaker Ryan Coogler.

“Peter Nicks uses the best of observational filmmaking to tell big, complicated, interconnected stories that are rooted in place and character,” said Jill Drew, general manager of Drew Associates, who established this award. “Bob Drew used to say that he could not make a film on a topic; a film needs a story and memorable characters. Peter’s work honors this tradition.”

DOC NYC’s Leading Light Award honors Chi-hui Yang, for making a critical contribution to documentary in a role other than as a filmmaker. The senior program officer for Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative makes grants globally in documentary film, new media and visual storytelling. At Ford, he’s helped found innovative funding initiatives like Critical Minded, which supports and builds capacity for cultural critics of color, he also manages a portfolio of grants supporting artist-led, socially engaged filmmaking, advancing a more equitable and inclusive documentary sector, and building the power of organizations and individuals grounded in communities of color and the Global South.

DOC NYC’s Lifetime Achievement Award has honored people with a substantial body of documentary film work like Martin Scorsese, Sam Pollard, Wim Wenders, Errol Morris, D.A. Pennebaker, Albert Maysles, Jonathan Demme and more.

Following its fully online edition in 2020, DOC NYC’s festival this year will occur as a hybrid event both in person and online from Nov. 10 to 18 at the festival’s traditional New York City venues: the IFC Center, SVA Theatre and Cinepolis Chelsea. DOC NYC’s online presentations will extend through Nov. 28 with online screenings available to viewers across the U.S.

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