Other prizes go to LA 92, HBO's The Defiant Ones, and New York Times Op-docs
When the Oscar shortlist of feature documentaries came out on Thursday, many were surprised by the omission of Dina, the film by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini that tells the story of a woman and her fiancé who are on the autism spectrum.
The film may not have been rewarded by the Academy, but it earned one of the documentary world's highest honors on Saturday -- winning the IDA Award for best feature documentary of the year.
The filmmakers appeared shocked by the victory, coming so close on the heels of the Oscar shortlist announcement. It can hardly be described as a complete surprise, however, because Dina also won the grand jury prize for U.S. documentary at the Sundance Film Festival last January.
In the documentary short category, Laura Checkoway's Edith+Eddie won in a field of six contenders. The film centers on an interracial couple -- both of them in their 90s -- who decide to get married but then faces obstacles when they want to live their lives together.
LA 92, the film by Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin that immerses viewers in the L.A. Riots as the events unfolded, won the ABC News VideoSource Award. The honor recognizes "the best use of news footage as an integral component in a documentary." Lindsay and Martin brought their archival producer, Ben Piner, on stage to share the award. They combed through 1,700 hours of footage to create the documentary.
New York Times Op-docs claimed the award for Best Short Form Series, with executive producer Kathleen Lingo in attendance to accept the honor. Several Times Op-docs -- including Ten Meter Tower, made the shortlist of best documentary short contenders announced by the Motion Picture Academy on Tuesday.
The award for Best Episodic Series went to Planet Earth II, a production of BBC America and BBC Worldwide.
The Defiant Ones from HBO won Best Limited Series. The four-part series focuses on Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine.
Marcel Mettelsiefen, director of "Watani: My Homeland," earned the Pare Lorentz Award at the IDA Awards on Saturday, December 9, 2017. The award recognizes films that "demonstrate exemplary filmmaking while focusing on the appropriate use of the environment, justice for all, and the illumination of pressing social problems." Photo by Matt Carey
Director Marcel Mettelsiefen accepted the previously-announced Pare Lorentz Award -- named after the pioneering documentary filmmaker -- for his short film Watani: My Homeland. The honor recognizes films that "demonstrate exemplary filmmaking, while focusing on the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all and the illumination of pressing social problems."
Watani, an Oscar nominee last year, tells the story of a Syrian family in Aleppo who struggle to live their lives in the midst of relentless bombing of the city. Mettelsiefen filmed the family members in Syria and then later in Germany where the family sought refuge from the civil war.
Yance Ford won the Emerging Filmmaker Award in recognition of his achievement with Strong Island, which also competed for Best Feature Documentary. The film explores the death of Ford's older brother William Ford Jr. who was killed in a racially-tinged incident on Long Island in 1992. A white man fatally shot Ford, who was unarmed, but the killer never faced any charges. The filmmaker asserts his brother was made culpable for his own death, by prosecutors who appeared steeped in a racist narrative that black men are inherently dangerous.
Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Walt Disney Co. co-founder Roy O. Disney, received the IDA Amicus Award, recognizing her work to support the documentary community. Through her company, Fork Films, Disney has produced notable films including Cameraperson and Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and she both produced and directed the 2015 film The Armor of Light.
Previously-announced Creative Recognition Awards went to the documentary Machines for its cinematography; to Dawson City: Frozen Time for its editing; to Brimstone & Glory for its music, and to Donkeyote for writing.
The IDA's Courage Under Fire Award went to the filmmakers and subjects of four documentaries about the civil war in Syria: City of Ghosts, directed by Matthew Heineman; Cries From Syria, directed by Evgeny Afineevsky; Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, directed by Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested, and Last Men in Aleppo, directed by Feras Fayyad.
"Cries From Syria" director Evgeny Afineevsky (left), and "Last Men in Aleppo" director Feras Fayyad attend the IDA Awards in Hollywood on Saturday, December 9, 2017. Afineevsky and Fayyad, as well as the subjects of their films and the directors and subjects of two other documentaries on the Syrian civil war, shared the IDA's Courage Under Fire Award. Photo by Matt Carey
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.