The Better Angels Society, the Library of Congress and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation said Tuesday they have established the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, an award to recognize exemplary accomplishment in historical documentaries. Submission are open now through June 1 for the honor, which will be presented each fall at a gala at the Library of Congress.
The prize will recognize a filmmaker whose documentary uses original research and compelling narrative to tell stories that touch on some aspect of American history. Submissions will be reviewed by a jury, and the winner will selected by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in consultation with Burns. The winner will receive a $200,000 finishing grant.
Eligibility requirements, per organizers:
1. The project must be a late-stage documentary film with a running time of 60 minutes or more.
2. The subject matter of the film must be American history.
3. The applicant must have previously produced or directed at least one long-form documentary for broadcast or online distribution.
4. The applicant must submit 20 minutes of a rough or fine cut AND a script of a full-length rough or fine cut at time of submission of application. (Note: Upon request, applicant will need to be able to provide a full-length rough or fine cut for review.)
5. Industrial, promotional, branded content or instructional films are not eligible.
“I’ve been very fortunate to spend my career focused on our country’s history,” said Burns in a release announcing the prize. “While each film is different, they all ask the same question about who we are as a people. History is of course fraught with complexity and is often divisive. But somehow by confronting this history together, and the many stories that make it up, we become closer. I’m honored and humbled to join the Library of Congress, The Better Angels and Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation to help other filmmakers working in this space share their stories. By supporting their work, and diverse stories and voices, I’m hopeful we can engage new generations of Americans in understanding our past.”
Said Hayden: “Documentary film is one of the most engaging media for bringing our nation’s history to life. As Ken has demonstrated prolifically and beautifully through his work over the years, piecing together historic photographs, manuscripts, music, oral histories and other primary source materials into a narrative moving image can capture our hearts and minds like nothing else.The Library is a treasure trove of these materials, and I hope this new prize elevates awareness of the Library as an inspirational national resource among documentary filmmakers of the present and the future. We are honored to join The Better Angels, Ken and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation to launch this award.”
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