Docs

Six finalists revealed for 2022 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film

The Library of Congress, the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation and the Better Angels Society have unveiled the six documentary projects that will vie for this year’s Library of Congress Lavine/Ken ...
July 27, 2022

The Library of Congress, the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation and the Better Angels Society have unveiled the six documentary projects that will vie for this year’s Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film.

Established in 2019, the award recognizes a late-stage documentary film that employs archival materials to shine a light on important aspects of American history. The winning project will receive a grant of $200,000 to aid in completion, distribution, marketing and outreach. One designated runner-up will receive $50,000, while the other four nominees will receive $25,000 each.

The six finalists for this year’s award were selected from a pool of submissions assembled by an internal committee comprised of filmmakers from Ken Burns‘ prodco Florentine Films, which were then reviewed by staff from the Library of Congress’ National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. Earlier this year, an additional six submissions for the 2022 award were recognized with a Better Angels Lavine Fellowship, which provides mentorship and non-monetary support for filmmakers completing their projects.

The finalists for this year’s Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film are listed below:

Bella
Director: Jeff L. Lieberman

Logline: In 1970, Bella Abzug entered Congress ready for a fight. With her trademark hat and Bronx swagger, the first elected feminist upended the Washington patriarchy, battling for women’s equality, civil rights, and LGBTQ+ protections. Despite Nixon and the FBI’s attempts to silence her, Bella persisted, revolutionizing the blueprint for America.

Cannabis Buyers Club
Directors: Kip Andersen, Chris O’Connell

Logline: Cannabis Buyers Club tells the unknown story of one of the most important LGBTQ+ rights struggles of the 20th century: how a neglected group of people suffering the horrors of the AIDS pandemic in San Francisco were led by a gay Vietnam vet/renegade pot dealer to legalize medical marijuana.

Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting
Directors: Aviva Kempner, Ben West

Logline: Imagining the Indian aims to inform and educate about the use of Native American names, logos and mascots in sports and beyond, which has had damaging effects on the self-esteem of Native people.

Philly on Fire (pictured)
Directors: Ross Hockrow, Tommy Walker

Logline: On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a row house, burning down an entire neighborhood. Eleven people died (five of them children), 61 homes were destroyed, 250 people became homeless. How could this have happened?

Raymond Lewis: L.A. LegendĀ 
Director: Ryan Polomski
Co-director: Dean Prator

Logline: Raymond Lewis: L.A. Legend tells the true story of the mythical basketball phenom from Watts, California — who many say was blackballed from the NBA in the early ’70s for demanding equality — and the never-told-before tale of his unlikely and heartbreaking journey towards becoming a hoops legend.

Virgil Thomson: Creating the American Sound
Director: John Paulson

Logline: Dubbed “the father of American music” by Aaron Copland, composer/critic Virgil Thomson (1896–1989) is largely unknown to the public. This biography, featuring new and archival music performances, establishes Thomson’s originality, versatility and influence not only as the creator of the American classical sound, but also as an insightful critic of our cultural scene.

The top two projects will be determined by the 2022 awards jury, which consists of filmmakers Dawn Porter, Sally Rosenthal and Sam Pollard; Harvard professor Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed; University of Georgia professor Dr. Claudio Sant; and Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden. The winning film will then be selected by Dr. Hayden, in consultation with Ken Burns.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.

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