Awards Round Up: 'American Factory' Wins Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award; 'Apollo 11' Takes DC Critics Prize
With For Sama winning at IDA Awards, multiple docs battle for frontrunner status
Three different awards shows over the weekend provided a mixed picture about the state of the Oscar race for best documentary.
On Sunday the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named American Factory the top documentary of the year. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert directed the film about a Chinese company's effort to build an auto glass operation in the shell of an old General Motors plant in Ohio. Bognar and Reichert also earned Best Director at Saturday's IDA Documentary Awards in Hollywood.
The LA Film Critics group voted Apollo 11 runner up for top documentary. But Todd Douglas Miller's film about the NASA mission to land astronauts on the moon finished second to none with the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association. That organization, made up of critics in DC, Maryland and Virginia, gave its top documentary award Sunday to Apollo 11, calling it "mesmerizing."
On Saturday night, as we reported previously, For Sama won Best Feature at the IDA Documentary Awards. The film directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts chronicles al-Kateab's life in Aleppo, Syria, where she tried to raise her baby daughter Sama in the midst of the brutal siege of the city. It has won awards at festivals from SXSW to Cannes, IDFA, the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Biografilm Festival in Bologna, Italy, among others.
Last week, it was Honeyland that won Best Documentary from another critics group, the New York Film Critics Circle. The film tells the story of Hatidze Muratova, a woman living in a remote area of North Macedonia who tends to her aged mother in a hut without electricity, earning a meager income through the sale of honey she cultivates from wild bees. At the IDA Awards, Honeyland won Best Cinematography for DPs Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma. Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov directed the film, winner of three awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary.
Last Monday the National Board of Review chose Maiden as Best Documentary. The archive-driven film by Alex Holmes documents the first all-female team to take part in the Whitbread Round the World yachting race in 1989. Tracy Edwards, the yacht's skipper and main subject of Maiden, is among the winners of The Unforgettables prize from the Cinema Eye Honors, an award that recognizes remarkable characters in documentary films. The Cinema Eye Honors will be presented next month in New York.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.