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“Summer of Soul” and “Ascension” lead noms for 2021 Critics Choice Doc Awards

The Critics Choice Association has unveiled the nominees for its sixth annual Documentary Awards. Leading the way for this year’s awards are Ascension and Summer of Soul, with six nominations each, ...
October 18, 2021

The Critics Choice Association has unveiled the nominees for its sixth annual Documentary Awards.

Leading the way for this year’s awards are Ascension and Summer of Soul, with six nominations each, both directed by first-time documentarians. Ascension, already the winner of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival award for best documentary and best new documentary filmmaker for director Jessica Kingdon, is an exploration of China’s industrial supply chain that reveals the country’s growing class divide. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) ,(pictured) meanwhile, already won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for documentary and the audience award for U.S. documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival awards, and tells the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival that was held the same summer as Woodstock in 1969.

Becoming Cousteau and The Rescue also picked up five award nominations each. The award winners will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 14.

Last year’s winner of the top prize at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards was Dick Johnson Is Dead for best documentary and best director. My Octopus Teacher, meanwhile, won best science and nature documentary and best cinematography before later winning the Academy Award for best documentary feature.

The Critics Choice Association previously announced that documentarian R.J. Cutler will receive the Pennebaker Award (Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry). The honor was formerly known as the Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, and is named for legendary documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, who died in 2019.

National Geographic Documentary Films is the awards presenting sponsor, while HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix and Showtime Documentary Films are each catalyst sponsors for the event.

The nominees for this year’s Critics Choice Association Documentary Awards are:

Best Documentary Feature

A Crime on the Bayou (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)
Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Attica (Showtime)
Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Flee (Neon)
Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)
My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)
Procession (Netflix)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)
The Lost Leonardo (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)

Best Director

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Liz Garbus, Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jessica Kingdon, Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry, Attica (Showtime)
Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (Neon)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Edgar Wright, The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)

Best First Documentary Feature

Jessica Beshir, Faya Dayi (Janus Films)
Rachel Fleit, Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)
Todd Haynes, The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)
Jessica Kingdon, Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Kristine Stolakis, Pray Away (Netflix)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)(Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Edgar Wright, The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)

Best Cinematography

Jessica Beshir – Faya Dayi (Janus Films)
Jonathan Griffith, Brett Lowell and Austin Siadak – The Alpinist (Roadside Attractions)
Nelson Hume and Alan Jacobsen – The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (Bleecker Street Media)
David Katznelson, Ian Seabrook and Picha Srisansanee – The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jessica Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Emiliano Villanueva – A Cop Movie (Netflix)
Pete West – Puff: Wonders of the Reef (Netflix)

Best Editing

Francisco Bello, Matthew Heineman, Gabriel Rhodes and David Zieff – The First Wave (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jeff Consiglio – LFG (HBO Max and CNN Films)
Bob Eisenhardt – The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Affonso Gonçalves and Adam Kurnitz – The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)
Jessica Kingdon – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Joshua L. Pearson – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Julian Quantrill – The Real Charlie Chaplin (Showtime)

Best Narration

David Attenborough, The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+)
Vincent Cassel, Mark Monroe and Pax Wassermann, Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jeff Daniels, 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room (Apple TV+)
Alex Gibney, The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)
CJ Hunt, The Neutral Ground (PBS)
Jack Kilmer and Val Kilmer, Val (Amazon Studios)
Pearl Mackie, Oliver Kindeberg, Peter Middleton and James Spinney, The Real Charlie Chaplin (Showtime)

Best Score

Jongnic Bontemps – My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)
Dan Deacon – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Alex Lasarenko and David Little – The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (Bleecker Street Media)
Cyrus Melchor – LFG (HBO/CNN)
Daniel Pemberton – The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Rachel Portman – Julia (Sony Pictures Classics)
Dirac Sea – Final Account (Focus Features)

Best Archival Documentary

Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
The Real Charlie Chaplin (Showtime)
The Real Right Stuff (Disney+)
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (HBO Documentary Films)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Val (Amazon Studios)
The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)

Best Historical or Biographical Documentary

Attica (Showtime)
A Crime on the Bayou (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)
Fauci (Magnolia Pictures/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Final Account (Focus Features)
Julia (Sony Pictures Classics)
My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)
No Ordinary Man (Oscilloscope)
Val (Amazon Studios)

Best Music Documentary

Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry (Apple TV+)
Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James (Showtime)
Listening to Kenny G (HBO Documentary Films)
The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Tina (HBO Documentary Films)
The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)

Best Political DocumentaryDocumentary

The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)
Enemies of the State (IFC Films)
Four Hours at the Capitol (HBO Documentary Films)
Influence (StoryScope, EyeSteelFilm)
Mayor Pete (Amazon Studios)
Missing in Brooks County (Giant Pictures)
Nasrin (Hulu)
Not Going Quietly (Greenwich Entertainment)

Best Science/Nature Documentary

Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Fauci (National Geographic Documentary Films)
The First Wave (National Geographic Documentary Films)
The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (Bleecker Street Media)
Playing with Sharks (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Puff: Wonders of the Reef (Netflix)
The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+)

Best Sports Documentary

The Alpinist (Roadside Attractions)
Changing the Game (Hulu)
The Day Sports Stood Still (HBO)
Kevin Garnett: Anything is Possible (Showtime)
LFG (HBO Max/CNN Films)
Tiger (HBO)

Best Short Documentary
Audible (Netflix)
Borat’s American Lockdown (Amazon Studios)
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis (Netflix)
Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol (The New York Times)
The Doll (Jumping Ibex)
The Last Cruise (HBO Documentary Films)
The Queen of Basketball (The New York Times)
Snowy (TIME Studios)

Most Compelling Living Subjects of a Documentary (Honor)

Ady Barkan – Not Going Quietly (Greenwich Entertainment)
Selma Blair – Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)
Pete Buttigieg – Mayor Pete (Amazon Studios)
Anthony Fauci – Fauci (Magnolia Pictures/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Ben Fong-Torres – Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres (StudioLA.TV)
Val Kilmer – Val (Amazon Studios)
Ron and Russell Mael – The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)
Rita Moreno – Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It (Roadside Attractions)
Valerie Taylor – Playing With Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story (Disney+)

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