A&E’s Born This Way, HBO’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Showtime’s Homeland, Cinemax’s The Knick, Smithsonian Channel’s Mississippi Inferno and Netflix’s Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom have been named this year’s honorees for the Ninth Annual Television Academy Honors.
The awards recognize programming that leverages the unique immediacy of television to tackle complex issues and advance social change. Showrunners, filmmakers and producers of the winning programs will be honored during a special presentation and reception, hosted by Emmy-winning actress Dana Delany at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, June 8.
The six programs honored this year feature themes and storylines that explore the lives of young adults with Down syndrome, Scientology whistle blowers, online surveillance and security in the global fight against terrorism, a doctor’s quest to treat addiction, the role of black landowners and farmers in the Civil Rights movement, and the fight for democracy in present-day Ukraine. Lucia Gervino chaired the Television Academy Honors Selection Committee for the third consecutive year.
Here are this year’s recipients:
Born This Way (A&E) – This reality series is the first to bring the issue of Down syndrome and adults who have it to light. It follows a group of seven young adults as they pursue their passions and lifelong dreams, explore friendships, romantic relationships and work – all while defying society’s expectations. In their willingness and courage to openly share their lives through a lens that is not often shown on television, we learn they have high hopes like anyone else. (Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions)
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (HBO) – The documentary film, from multiple Emmy-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, draws attention to the plight of ex-Scientologists brave enough to blow the whistle. The heart of the film is a series of shocking revelations by former Scientology insiders, including high-ranking and recognizable members such as acclaimed screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash), as they describe the systematic history of abuse and betrayal by Church officials, including the current leadership of the Church. (Produced by HBO Documentary Films in association with Sky Atlantic and Jigsaw Productions)
Homeland (Showtime) – In its fifth season, this political thriller starring three-time Emmy winner Claire Danes tackles current affairs through plot lines involving surveillance, hacking and a security breach reminiscent of Edward Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures to focus on the globalized state of warfare today, positing that fighting in the Information Age involves higher stakes and a universal playing field. At a time when radicalization happens online and terrorists plot attacks in secret conversation, Homeland holds a mirror to our encrypted world. (Produced by Showtime Presents, Fox 21 Television Studios, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet)
The Knick (Cinemax) – Set in 1901, The Knick Season 2 sees Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) returning from an unsuccessful stay at a hospital for addicts and drunkards, determined to use his skills as a physician and the resources of his hospital in a futile quest to find a definitive cure for addiction. The series reflects society’s ongoing struggle with addiction and the continued search for answers. (Produced by Cinemax Entertainment in association with Amberg Screen Products, Anonymous Content and Extension 765)
Mississippi Inferno (Smithsonian Channel) – This documentary spotlights the largely unknown, yet critical role of black landowners and independent farmers in the Civil Rights movement – standing up against white supremacy and segregation. Narrated by Danny Glover, it features first-person accounts of the courageous individuals and families who risked their lives to end racial inequality in the most repressive state in the South — and wound up changing the course of history. (Produced by Thunk It Productions, Ltd. in Association with Mentorn Media)
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom (Netflix) – This Oscar-nominated film witnesses the formation of a new civil rights movement in Ukraine in 2014. It explores the universal values of democracy and freedom of speech as it captures the remarkable mobilization of nearly a million citizens across the country protesting the corrupt political regime that utilized extreme force against its own people. (Produced by Netflix, Afineevsky – Tolmor Production, UkrStream.TV and SPN Production, in association with Passio).