IDA Documentary Awards: 'For Sama' Wins Best Feature; 'American Factory's' Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert Win Directing Award
Honeyland, Beyoncé's Homecoming, Leaving Neverland among other winners. Full list below.
For Sama continued its impressive awards run Saturday night, winning Best Feature at the IDA Documentary Awards in Hollywood. Overseas in Berlin on Saturday, the film directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts also won the top European Documentary honor at the European Film Awards.
"Ohmygod. Thank you so much, IDA," al-Kateab said, as she accepted the IDA Award, praising the other filmmakers nominated in the category. At a loss for words, she quickly turned the spotlight over to Watts, who added, "We're just so humbled, to be honest... Everyone's saying it's a dark time in the world but I look out in this room and the filmmakers that we've met and I think about documentary right now and I just feel hope things are going to get better thanks to a lot of people in this room and people like this amazing woman," he said, referring to al-Kateab.
I’m just one person standing here but there’s millions of Syrian people who are fighting every day for our freedom and for a free country.
For Sama is a chronicle of al-Kateab's experience in Aleppo, Syria as her city was systematically destroyed in bombing raids launched by Syrian government forces and their Russian allies on civilian targets. The documentary takes the form of a love letter to her baby daughter Sama, to whom al-Kateab gave birth in the midst of the siege.
Earlier this week For Sama won the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review. Among its many prizes are best documentary honors at film festivals around the world including Cannes, SXSW, Traverse City, Galway, Ireland, Guanajuato, Mexico, RiverRun in North Carolina and HotDocs in Toronto.
Earlier in the evening al-Kateab received a standing ovation as she accepted the IDA's Courage Under Fire Award, recognizing her bravery in making the documentary.
"Today there was another attack in Syria… There was more than 20 people who were killed," she noted as she accepted the award. "We’re just like used to see[ing] that everyday, but we need to find a way to stop that. I hope this award… will also shed the light about what’s happening. This is not just for me. I’m just one person standing here but there’s millions of Syrian people who are fighting every day for our freedom and for a free country."
The IDA spread the love among many other films, filmmakers and series on Saturday. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert were named Best Director for their work on American Factory, the story of what happened when a Chinese auto glass giant set up a factory on the grounds of an old GM plant in Dayton, Ohio. Bognar and Reichert were similarly honored with the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival.
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl), directed by Carol Dysinger, won Best Documentary Short. Dysinger's film focuses on a school in Kabul that offers Afghan girls, who are often deprived of an education, the opportunity to learn to read, write and skateboard.
"I've been filming in Afghanistan since the year 2005," Dysinger commented from the podium. "I've seen a lot of awful things, but the one thing I always love most about that country is the girls, who get so little but are so bright and so insane and so lovely."
Best Multi-part Documentary went to Leaving Neverland, Dan Reed's searing two-part film about two men--James Safechuck and Wade Robson--who say they were sexually abused as boys by entertainer Michael Jackson. Reed thanked HBO for standing behind the film despite a lawsuit filed by Jackson's estate claiming the documentary violated a non-disparagement agreement between Jackson and HBO related to a concert film decades ago.
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.