UPDATED with quotes from winners and IDA executive director Rick Pérez: Flee and Summer of Soul divided honors at the 37th annual IDA Awards tonight, with Flee claiming Best Feature Documentary, and Summer of Soul capturing three awards, including best director for Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson [full winners list below].
Flee, the animated story of a gay Afghan youth who fled his homeland for life in the West, bested nine other contenders for Best Feature, including rivals Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), and fellow Oscar nominee Writing With Fire (the latter title earned the Courage Under Fire Award for directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh).
Flee director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, who first met the subject of his film, Amin Nawabi, when they were teenagers in Denmark, accepted the night’s top award.
“First of all, I want to thank Amin, the subject of the film, for your generosity and courage to share this story with me,” Rasmussen said. “I also just want to use the opportunity to say that the situation in Afghanistan right now is really bad. It’s winter and there’s a scarcity of food and other necessities and that these people are in a very vulnerable situation. So, please remember the people of Afghanistan and please help out any way you can.”
Summer of Soul, about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a long-overlooked series of extraordinary concerts by soon-to-be or already famous African American performers, won Best Music Documentary, Best Editing, and the directing award for Thompson. Accepting the directing honor, Questlove mentioned the challenge of making art in the midst of Covid.
“I think it was hard to be creative in these last few years and come up with compelling beauty in the time of chaos,” he said. “So, to Flee, and and Faya Dayi, Not Going Quietly, and Jacinta, and all the storytellers of the last two years, I really appreciate the volume and the creativity of the output of the films that have come out that really kept us all sane.”
Flee and Summer of Soul square off again on March 27 at the Oscars. They are nominated alongside Ascension, Attica, and Writing With Fire.
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IDA executive director Rick Pérez appeared during the virtual ceremony to salute nominees and celebrate the IDA on its 40th anniversary. He also referenced the controversy that has engulfed the IDA since he took over the top job last May. As Deadline has reported, almost 40-percent of staff have quit in the last few months, with many sharply criticizing the leadership of Pérez, the IDA’s first BIPOC and gay executive director, and actions by the IDA board of directors, which they have said have undermined the organization’s mission to support diversity, equity and inclusion in the documentary field.
“I have to acknowledge the challenges our documentary community faces,” Pérez said. “As a country and globally, we’re in a moment of reckoning. And as an organization, IDA also finds itself at a place of self-reflection, what we must explore, how we can best serve our community and the larger public, and how we can provide greater opportunity and engagement for our staff. The work of nonfiction storytellers is more vital than ever, especially in times of transition and uncertainty. As a long time IDA member and filmmaker, I’m deeply invested in listening and learning and leading IDA into a new era. IDA has thrived for decades, and it will continue to thrive.”
The IDA Awards were to have been held in-person on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood in early February, but were postponed as a result of the Omicron surge. Tonight’s ceremony was shifted to a virtual event, hosted by filmmakers Kate Amend, Jerry Henry, Pedro Kos, and Renee Tajima-Peña. The ceremony began with a musical performance by Mehandis Geleto, featured in the IDA-nominated documentary Faya Dayi, a nominee for the IDA’s Best Feature award and winner of Best Cinematography.
Also taking home awards tonight were short documentary winner A Broken House, directed by Jimmy Goldblum. The film about Syrian-born architect and artist Mohamad Hafez previously earned a spot on the Oscar shortlist but didn’t score an Oscar nomination. Winning the IDA Award seemed to take Goldblum somewhat by surprise.
“I wish that I had prepared a speech for this moment, but I am very grateful for the IDA for this incredible honor,” Goldblum said. “Thank you to Mohamad Hafez. Your vulnerability and your honesty and your staggeringly beautiful art made this possible.”
Academy Award-nominated director Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) won Best Multi-Part Documentary for his HBO series Exterminate All the Brutes.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Ronan Farrow won the IDA’s Truth to Power Award. The Career Achievement Award was presented to filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, director of the Oscar-winning short documentary Music by Prudence (2010) and the Oscar-nominated documentary feature Life, Animated (2016).
Emmy-winning producer and editor Jean Tsien (76 Days) earned the Pioneer Award, and Cecilia Aldarondo (Landfall) was honored with the Emerging Filmmaker Award.
This is the full list of winners at the 37th ]IDA Awards:
FLEE (Denmark, France, Norway / NEON, Participant. Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen. Producers: Monica Hellstrӧm,Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson — Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (USA / Onyx Collective, Hulu, Searchlight Pictures)
A Broken House (USA, Lebanon / Condé Nast Entertainment, The New Yorker, POV. Director/Producer: Jimmy Goldblum. Producer: Matt Weaver, former Representative Richard Gephardt and Harrison Nalevansky)
Best Curated Series
Independent Lens (USA / Independent Lens, PBS. Executive Producers: Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer)
Best Episodic Series
My Love: Six Stories of True Love (USA / Netflix. Executive Producer: Mo-young Jin, Andrew Fried, Dane Lillegard and Jordan Wynn)
Best Multi-Part Documentary
Exterminate All the Brutes (USA, France / HBO, HBO Max. Director/Executive Producer:
Raoul Peck. Producers: Daniel Delume. Executive Producers: Rémi Grellety, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, Jamie Morris, Jack Oliver and Poppy Dixon)
Best Short-Form Series
Viral Dreams (Germany, Israel / ZDF Arte. Producer: Georg Tschurtschenthaler. Executive Producers: Christian Beetz)
Best Stand-Alone Audio Documentary
VICE News Reports: Monaea, A 2020 Diary (USA / VICE News, iHeartRadio. Reporters: Monaea Upton and Jen Kinney. Producers: Jen Kinne, Ashley Cleek, Adizah Eghan and Adreanna Rodriguez. Executive Producer: Kate Osborn)
Best Multi-Part Audio Documentary or Series
“Suave” from Futuro Studios and PRX (USA / Futuro Studios, PRX. Reporters: Maggie Freleng and Julieta Martinelli. Producers: Maria Hinojosa, Maggie Freleng, Julieta Martinelli, Marlon Bishop, Audrey Quinn and Stephanie Lubow. Executive Producer: Maria Hinojosa)
Best Music Documentary
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (USA / Onyx Collective, Hulu, Searchlight Pictures. Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Producers: Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent, David Dinerstein)
David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award
Seahorse (Germany / Film Academy Baden-Württemberg. Director/Producer: Nele Dehnenkamp. Producer: Christine Duttlinger)
Faya Dayi (Ethiopia, USA, Qatar / Janus Films. Cinematographer: Jessica Beshir)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (USA / Onyx Collective, Hulu, Searchlight Pictures. Editor: Joshua L. Pearson)
Best Music Score
Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground (USA / HBO Max. Composer: Roman GianArthur)
North By Current (USA / POV, PBS. Writer: Angelo Madsen Minax)
ABC News VideoSource Award
Whirlybird (USA / Greenwich Entertainment, A&E IndieFilms. Director: Matt Yoka. Producer: Matt Yoka, Diane Becker)
Pare Lorentz Award
The First Wave (USA / National Geographic. Director/Producer: Matthew Heineman. Producers: Jenna Millman and Leslie Norville)
HONORABLE MENTION: Tigre Gente (USA. Director/Producer: Elizabeth Unger. Producer: Joanna Natasegara)
Career Achievement Award
Roger Ross Williams
Truth to Power Award
Courage Under Fire Award
Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (Writing With Fire)
Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award
The 2021 IDA Documentary Awards was sponsored by Netflix, Showtime, Participant Media, HBO
Max, Archibald Family Charitable Foundation, AppleTV+, ABC News Videosource, Hulu, and
Onyx, with Media Partner Variety and Official Accessibility Partner Rev.
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