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IDA recognizes Roger Ross Williams, Ronan Farrow among 2021 honorees

Ronan Farrow, Roger Ross Williams and Jean Tsien are among the honorary award recipients announced on Monday (Nov. 8) for this year’s International Documentary Association (IDA) Documentary Awards. The full nominee ...
November 8, 2021

Ronan Farrow, Roger Ross Williams and Jean Tsien are among the honorary award recipients announced on Monday (Nov. 8) for this year’s International Documentary Association (IDA) Documentary Awards.

The full nominee list for all IDA award categories will be released on Nov. 15 with the awards ceremony scheduled for Feb. 5.

Williams (Life, Animated; God Loves Uganda; The Apollo) will be recognized with the IDA’s Career Achievement Award this year, celebrating his work as an Oscar and Emmy-winning filmmaker and as the first African American director to win an Academy Award, receiving the honor for best documentary short for Music by Prudence in 2010.

“As someone who for a long time felt like an outsider, It’s the greatest honor to be recognized by an organization of my peers,” Williams said in a statement.

Farrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will receive the IDA’s Truth to Power Award after his work interviewing whistleblowers, victims and other sources for his book Catch and Kill on the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse cases, was adapted into a six-part HBO docuseries, Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes, that aired earlier this year.

“I’m an admirer of the International Documentary Association’s work championing filmmakers’ First Amendment rights and I so appreciate that they’ve chosen to recognize Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes,” Farrow said in a news release.

Tsien will receive the IDA’s Pioneer Award, which honors people who have made contributions that have advanced the non-fiction form and provided vision and leadership to the industry. Tsien has worked on titles such as the Oscar-nominated Scottsboro: An American Tragedy and the Peabody-winning Malcolm X: Make It Plain, and is an advocate of Asian American media having executive produced Plastic China, The Road to Fame and PBS’ Asian Americans. She’s also mentored emerging talent as an advisor with several organizations including the Sundance Institute Edit and Story Lab, IDFAcademy Camden/TFI Retreat and more.

“This award reflects the generosity and kindness of the many great documentary legends before me,” Tsien said. “I hope to pass this along to those who are just starting out, so that they can see possibilities through me. I also want to share this honor with all the members of A-Doc and the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, both of which were born at the IDA Getting Real conference.”

Cecilia Aldarondo will be honored with the Emerging Documentary Filmmaker award, which comes with a $5,000 unrestricted grant. Aldarondo’s most recent film, Landfall, won the 2020 DOC NYC Film Festival Viewfinders Grand Jury Award for best documentary, and was nominated for Cinema Eye and Independent Spirit honors.

The IDA’s Courage Under Fire Award, honoring documentarians who took incredible personal risks to work on essential stories, will be presented this year to Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh for Writing With Fire. The documentary tells the story of India’s only newspaper run by Dalit, or ‘low caste,’ women. The filmmakers followed the reporters into some of the deadliest regions for journalists and women in the country. Writing With Fire already won the audience award and Special Jury Award: Impact for Change at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

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