Docs

“Summer of Soul” wins big at Critics Choice Documentary Awards

Summer of Soul racked up six honors at this year’s Critics Choice Documentary Awards on Sunday (Nov. 14). The sixth annual ceremony recognized the best in documentaries released theatrically, on TV ...
November 15, 2021

Summer of Soul racked up six honors at this year’s Critics Choice Documentary Awards on Sunday (Nov. 14).

The sixth annual ceremony recognized the best in documentaries released theatrically, on TV and on digital platforms, as voted by Critics Choice Association members.

Summer of Soul was the big winner on the night, being named best documentary feature, best editing, best archival documentary and best music documentary, with its director, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, winning best first documentary feature, and finishing in a tie for the best director category. The film tells the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969 that drew more than 300,000 people to celebrate African American music and culture.

The Rescue‘s Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin tied with Thompson for the best director honor. Their film, which also won awards for best cinematography and best score, covers the rescue of a Thai soccer team that was trapped in a cave for 16 days.

Val, a film chronicling the life and career of actor Val Kilmer, won a pair of honors as it was rewarded for best historical or biographical documentary and best narration. Meanwhile, The Crime of the Century won best political documentary, Becoming Cousteau won best science/nature documentary, The Alpinist won best sports documentary and The Queen of Basketball, a film about the only woman ever drafted to the NBA, won best short documentary.

The D.A. Pennebaker Award was presented to documentarian R.J. Cutler at the event. The award was formerly known as the Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, before it was renamed in honor of past winner D.A. Pennebaker. Cutler’s latest project, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry won four Emmys. His past work as a director and producer includes The War Room, Belushi, A Perfect Candidate, The September Issue, Listen to Me Marlon and The World According to Dick Cheney.

“It was a wonderful night of showcasing and honoring the best of the best in documentary storytelling, with a mix of fresh faces and veteran talents lauded by our members,” said Christopher Campbell, President of the Critics Choice Association Documentary Branch, in a news release. “We are excited for our choices to inform the choices of film fans everywhere, as the CCDAs continue to support non-fiction filmmaking and influence the growing audience for documentaries.”

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