ANNOUNCING THE WINNERS OF GRIERSON 2015: The 43rd British Documentary Awards
London, 2 November 2015, 9pm: The Grierson Trust takes great pleasure in announcing the winners of Grierson 2015: The 43rd British Documentary Awards. Hosted by TV presenter and choirmaster extraordinaire, Gareth Malone, the star-studded awards ceremony took place tonight at London’s Mermaid Theatre where the great and the good of the documentary world came together to celebrate another outstanding year of filmmaking.
Lorraine Heggessey, Chairman of the Grierson Trust said: "Once again our winning films demonstrate the vibrant, exciting and innovative ways in which the UK documentary industry is the world leader. From the provocative to the heart-warming, the funny to the simply astonishing, our award winners deserve the accolade and recognition a Grierson bestows upon them. Huge congratulations to them all."
The evening opened with the Evolutions Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme Domestic award, traditionally one of the most fiercely fought of the evening. It was won by director Dan Reed's The Paedophile Hunter which was praised by the jury for its 'provocative and confident' take on one the big issues of our time. "This winning film had amazing clarity in its storytelling as well as being brilliantly edited and scored," said jury chair, Sanjay Singhal. The award was presented by TV and radio presenter George Lamb.
It was followed by the Televisual Best Arts Documentary. Chair of the jury, Alex Cooke praised the winning film fo r the: "sheer originality and imaginative approach that the winner applied to a familiar genre. It was not only a captivating look at the creative process, at performance and the nature of transcendence, but also a deftly crafted and highly inspiring intimate portrait of an artist." The award was won by directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard for 20,000 Days on Earth and was presented by journalist Miranda Sawyer.
Documentary presenter Michael Mosley handed over Satusfaction Best Science or Natural History Documentary award. The judges singled out The Girl Who Talked To Dolphins for special praise but the crown was taken by director Brian Woods for Curing Cancer, which the jury recognised for 'opening a closed door with great integrity and sensitivity'. "It was moving and revealing in its probing of circumstances which are all too likely to befall many of us, and this alone made the film essential, compelling viewing," said jury chair Andy Whittaker.
Our War: Goodbye Afghanistan took the Open University Best Current Affairs Documentary award presented by journalist Zoe Williams. Director Rowan Deacon was praised by Briony Hanson, jury chair, for the film's "beautifully nuanced, vivid account of the confusion, ethical ambiguities and contradictions faced by real heroes whose lives are broken by what they go through."
News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy handed over the next award to producer BritDoc's Jess Search as CitizenFour was crowned Shell Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme International. The jury praised the film as 'powerful, significant and beautifully constructed'. "We all agreed that it's a film that will be returned to for years to come for telling a hugely important story about how we live now," commented Richard Alwyn, who chaired the jury.
Executive Producer Tania Alexander and contributors Giles and Mary took to the stage to receive Gogglebox's latest gong, the Nyman Libson Paul Most Entertaining Documentary award which was presented by Grayson Perry. The jury singled out the series both for the pleasure it remains to watch but also for the 'special insight it offers – through the views of the cast – on global news and national politics'. "Masquerading as a light-hearted fly on the wall ob doc – it is, in fact, a powerful snapshot of what life is like in Britain in the 21st century and a love song to the simple pleasure of spending quality time with the people you love," added jury chair Tom McDonald.
The Sky Atlantic Best Student Documentary was presented by one half of The Revolution Will Be Televised, Jolyon Rubinstein, to Kathryn MacCorgarry Gray creator of The Wolf, the Ship and the Little Green Bag which the jury, led by Emma Cooper, praised as "hugely innovative with great use of animation in its storytelling."
Former Royal Marine turned documentary-maker Arthur Williams then presented the Channel Four Best Newcomer Award which went to director Ed Perkins and Garnet Frost, the subject of the winning The Lost Gold of the Highlands (Garnet's Gold). The film was singled out as 'ambitious and infused with incredible character'. "Ultimately it's a powerful and moving film, with profound things to say about human nature," commented jury chair Chris Harris.
The ITN Source Best Historical Documentary followed and director Bruce Goodison collected his award from historian and presenter Susannah Lipscomb for the winning film Our World War: The First Day. Celia Taylor, chair of the jury, praised the film for its "terrific and a genius use of new techniques to bring an important event to a new audience. It is ambitious with an innovative use of reconstruction that took this film to the next level, bringing history to life in an exciting and moving way that deeply engages the audience."
BBC One Controller, Charlotte Moore then took to the stage to crown this year's BBC Grierson Trustees' Award recipient, Kim Longinotto. In his citation, Peter Dale said "Kim has been making brilliant documentaries since the mid-70’s. But she’s also done something altogether more exceptional. She’s built a body of work that has something quite simple but compelling to say. It says: the world doesn’t have to be the way it is and if we take the time to properly understand people, especially those who appear different, things could easily change. Her passions and her take on life are utterly central to all her films. And she gets closer to her subjects than any film-maker I think I’ve ever come across. She has consistently sought out stories about women - quite remarkable women. But people who would never normally have a camera turn towards them. She has this effortless ability to spot a story in which ordinary people can be truly extraordinary. And she has the skill and the determination to create the stage on which they can shine. It’s generous film-making – generous to her subjects and generous to us. And it comes from her deeply felt belief that if you really listen to people you don’t know, the world starts to feel a better place."
The ceremony continued with the Clockwork Capital Documentary Presenter of the Year award which was presented by Gareth Malone. Grayson Perry was crowned from a glittering pool of nominees as the judges singled him out as 'brilliant' and 'very special'. Jury chair, Lorraine Heggessey said "Grayson is an interviewer who gets under the skin of his subjects and an artist who captures their essence. He's one of our greatest national treasures."
The penultimate award of the evening was the Bertha Dochouse Best Cinema Documentary. In a tough field, Mercy Mercy was singled out for special praise as an intimate and unsettling film with exceptional storytelling, but the ultimate prize went to Virunga. Author and radio presenter Francine Stock handed over the award to producer Joanna Natasegara. Liesel Evans, jury chair, stated: "We found this film a compelling, cinematic and epic work which weaves together different strands of the story to ambitiously portray both the place and the forces at play within it. The film has great purpose and uses archive and undercover material very effectively, with a great, and very brave, cast of characters."
One Show host Alex Jones wrapped up the evening by presenting the Envy Best Documentary Series award which went to director James Bluemel for The Romanians Are Coming. The jury praised the work: "for marrying the funny, revealing, human aspects of life whilst being tinged with tragedy. It showed the personal side of a political and important story. Overall, we felt that this was a great series told from an innovative perspective and you don't get much better than that in documentary series," said jury chair David Dehaney.
During the evening the Awards also took time to celebrate The Grierson Trust's unique training and mentoring scheme DocLab and to announce that ITV has agreed a sponsorship deal which will support two new bursaries for the 2016 scheme. DocLab participants are recruited from across the UK, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds, not just culturally, but also socio-economically and geographically. The scheme enables trainees to hit the ground running and, with the endorsement of The Grierson Trust behind them their opportunities to enter the industry is strengthened. Through this initiative the Trust has given opportunities to 36 young people to explore documentary making, offering them access to leading filmmakers, production companies and commissioning editors at Sheffield Doc/Fest. The scheme also matched them with industry mentors and sourced paid work placements with production companies and broadcasters, proving an invaluable first taste of the profession.
Published: 3 November 2015