The Grierson Trust would like to thank all the reviewers and jurors who dedicated their time and consideration to all the documentaries entered into the 2020 British Documentary Awards. The judges’ citations for all nominated films and programmes can be found under the relevant category header below.

Congratulations to all the nominees and to the winners.


  • Nominations and Judges’ Citations

    Envy Best Single Documentary - Domestic

    The Family Secret

    • Anna Hall, Sally Ogden, Luke Rothery & Brian Woods for Candour Productions
    • Channel 4

    Kath had a secret she couldn't tell anyone. She carried it for 25 years. Her brother had raped her when she was seven and he was ten - it lasted for four years. The Family Secret captures the moment when Kath and her brother Rob enter a restorative justice meeting where the truth is laid bare and they face what happened for the first time with their mum as witness.

    The judges' citation " This story was told with such sensitivity and care for the subjects that the judges couldn’t fail to be impressed. They said that they were watching something utterly extraordinary and felt that filmmaker Anna Hall is one of the few people who could tell a story in this way. "

    Suicidal: In Our Own Words

    • Rachel Harvie, David DeHaney, Emmanuel Ayettey & Iain Pettifer for Proper Content
    • Channel 5

    One man takes his own life every two hours. In a process never before seen on television, this ground-breaking and unflinching documentary follows the unique work carried out by the Central and North-West London Mental Health Trust and the stories of six men, who have 20 suicide attempts between them.

    Each of the men tell their story in a unique and intimate moment – the hours, days and weeks of their unfolding suicidal episodes.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges thought this was a brave and important film which brought them a new understanding of men who are suicidal. It was evident that the subjects really trusted the filmmaker and opened up to her in a way that never felt voyeuristic. They said this film had stayed with them long after watching it. "

    Tell Me Who I Am

    • Production team at Lightbox
    • Netflix

    Alex wakes up from a coma having forgotten everything. The only thing he does know is that the person next to him is his twin brother, Marcus. Alex relies on Marcus to provide his memories, but the idyllic childhood Marcus paints for his twin conceals a dark family secret.

    The judges’ citation: " This is an extraordinary story told with great polish and style. The judges admired this clever film. Full of surprises, the story unfolds like a psychological thriller. "

    War in the Blood

    • Arthur Cary, Morgan Matthews, Ben Brown, Saskia Rusher & Andrew Phillips for Minnow Films
    • BBC Two

    An intimate feature length documentary following two patients through ground-breaking ‘first in-human’ trials for CAR T-cell therapy, a treatment described as the beginning of the end of cancer.

    Not allowed to meet, Graham (53) and Mahmoud (18) are nevertheless bound together by their commitment to the treatment and their faith in the science. Terminally ill, the trial represents their only option. How do their ages and life experiences affect their physical and emotional response?

    The judges’ citation: " This moving film impressed the judges by the bravery of the contributors and the dignity that they were afforded. It was unflinching and uplifting and gave an amazing insight into the ground-breaking medical treatment. "

    The Open University Best Single Documentary - International

    Crip Camp

    • Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Sara Bolder, Howard Gertler, Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis for A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation
    • Netflix

    A ground-breaking summer camp galvanises a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality.

    The judges’ citation: " This remarkable film told a hidden slice history with warmth, tenderness and humour. It was a joyful watch but with a rawness about a movement which changed society. It was a beautifully crafted film with a story well told. "

    The Day California Burned

    • Sarah Waldron, Fiona Stourton, Dan Edge, Ella Newton & Jane McMullen for Brook Lapping Productions & BBC Current Affairs London
    • BBC Two

    On 8 November 2018, a megafire swept through northern California. In its path was the town of Paradise. Within four hours, around 30,000 people had lost their homes. It was the deadliest fire in America for a century. Drawing on hundreds of hours of footage, this film tells the chilling and dramatic account of that day.

    The judges’ citation: " Placing viewers at the heart of disaster, this documentary told immersive human stories of catastrophe through masterful use of user generated content and well-chosen interviews. The powerful message of human failure to adapt to clear warning signs was felt throughout. "

    The Great Hack

    • Production team at A Noujaim Films Production & an othrs Production
    • Netflix

    Explore how a data company named Cambridge Analytica came to symbolise the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges described this film as an excellent telling of a complex and important story of our time. The narrative layers that followed different characters and their quests, combined with the remarkable graphic representation of abstract matter like the internet and data, made for an informative and gripping watch. "

    Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein

    • Ursula Macfarlane, Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn, Poppy Dixon & Andy R Worboys for Lightbox
    • BBC Two

    A devastating exposé of the meteoric rise and shocking fall of the movie mogul made during the year before he was convicted for rape and sexual assault. At the heart of the film are his victims’ painfully frank accounts of his abuse, of the damage it did to their lives, and the complicity of the Hollywood machine. Untouchable makes clear the vital importance of speaking out and of the entertainment industry’s long overdue cultural reckoning.

    The judges’ citation: " A film telling a story the jurors thought they already knew, but which was brought to new life by visceral testimony and vivid use of music and editing. "

    Real Stories Best Current Affairs Documentary

    Al Jazeera Investigations: Diplomats for Sale

    • Deborah Davies, Kevin Hirten, Nicholas Dove, Craig Pennington, Emmanuel Panaretos & Phil Rees for Al Jazeera Media Network
    • Al Jazeera

    Diplomats for Sale reveals a secretive black-market business where ambassadorships are sold to the highest bidder. The documentary exposes a global trade in diplomatic appointments that has helped Caribbean politicians retain power and provided immunity to criminals. Broadcast shortly before a general election in Dominica, the documentary shows how the leaders of both main political parties are willing to accept secret campaign contributions from foreigners seeking the privileges of diplomatic status.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges felt this was a complex story well told, with a forensic investigation into ambassadorships sold to the highest bidder. It held viewers’ interest and was very entertaining. "

    Sex for Grades

    • Kiki Mordi, Ogechi Obidiebube, Chiara Francavilla, Charlie Northcott, Andy Bell & Marc Perkins for BBC World Service
    • BBC Africa Eye

    Female students in Nigeria and Ghana have been complaining of sexual harassment by their university professors for decades. Now, in this investigative documentary, local journalist Kiki Mordi goes undercover to capture evidence of this behaviour first-hand by uncovering shocking abuse in West Africa’s top universities.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges said this was a disturbing film which was difficult to watch in places. Kiki Mordi was a great reporter getting to the heart of this story of institutional sexual exploitation. It was revealing, brave and relatable. "

    Undercover with the Clerics: Iraq’s Secret Sex Trade

    • Paddy Wells, Mais Al-Bayaa, Nawal Al Maghafi, Monica Garnsey, Chris Mitchell & Gary Beelders for BBC News Arabic
    • BBC News Arabic

    In this hard-hitting undercover investigation, Nawal Al Maghafi exposes a secret world of sexual exploitation in Iraq. She uncovers how some Shia clerics are grooming and exploiting vulnerable girls and young women, leaving them trapped in prostitution. A young widow alleges that a cleric sold her to his friends in a prostitution ring, while secret filming reveals another cleric conducting a so-called ‘pleasure marriage’ with a girl he believes to be only 13.

    The judges’ citation: " This was another hard-hitting expose of sexual exploitation, this time in Iraq. It was emotionally impactful, disturbing and utterly shocking. The undercover reporting showed the complete moral bankruptcy of men grooming and trading young and vulnerable girls for ‘pleasure marriages’. "

    Undercover: Inside China's Digital Gulag

    • Robin Barnwell, Gesbeen Mohammad, Guy Creasey, Simon Russell & David Henshaw for Hardcash Productions
    • ITV

    ITV goes undercover into China’s secretive Xinjiang region. The Chinese government is holding an estimated million or more Muslims in detention camps - the largest incarceration of an ethnic group since WW2. This unprecedented investigation reveals how twelve million other Muslims are living in a human laboratory where the world’s most invasive surveillance state is being created to control them, destroying their cultural identity and creating technologies that are being exported to authoritarian states worldwide.

    The judges’ citation: " This eye-opening documentary alerted the world to terrifying control the Chinese state is exerting on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The judges commended the courage of the undercover reporters who filmed at huge personal risk. As a journalistic investigation, this film had everything: immediacy, urgency and dedication to getting an important story out to the world. "

    Storm Best Arts or Music Documentary

    The Black Godfather

    • Reginald Hudlin, Nicole Avant, Byron Phillips, Nelson George, Catrin Rodgers & Andrew Fried for Boardwalk Pictures & Hudlin Entertainment
    • Netflix

    This documentary follows the life of Clarence Avant, the ultimate, uncensored mentor and behind-the-scenes rainmaker in music, film, TV and politics.

    The judges’ citation: " This revealing film was a timely and fascinating portrait giving an alternative view on the portrayal of Hollywood which isn’t often seen from a Black perspective. "

    Imagine... Edna O'Brien: Fearful and Fearless

    • Katy Homan, Tanya Hudson, Jude Suggett & Alan Yentob for BBC Studios
    • BBC One

    Edna O’Brien is one of the greatest literary talents and rule breakers of her generation. In 1960, her revolutionary debut novel The Country Girls broke down social and sexual barriers for women and was subsequently banned in her native country of Ireland. The unstoppable O’Brien continues to produce some of the most urgent work of her unparalleled career. Her eighteenth novel, Girl, a searing story inspired by the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, will be published later this year. In this honest and engaging documentary, Alan Yentob meets Edna O’Brien to discuss sex, books and a lifetime of defiance.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges thought this was a hugely entertaining film made all the more compelling as Edna O’Brien tells her own story with such candour. They said it was great to see such an accomplished film about a rule-breaking older woman who continues to produce work of urgency and ambition. "

    Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall

    • Alfred George Bailey, Adam Biskupski, Ian Arber, Tatiana Kennedy, Amelia Davis & Nicolas Sampson for Bailey Kennedy Production. Modern Films
    • General theatrical release

    An outsider with attitude, Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall chronicles the infamous photographer’s life behind and outside the camera. A child of immigrants and a life battling inner demons, Jim fought his way to become one of the most trusted mavericks behind a lens throughout 60’s history, capturing the most iconic figures in music history from Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, to the infamous image of Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar.

    The judges’ citation: " Whilst his pictures of legends such as Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Cash are familiar, little was known about the photographer Jim Marshall until this revealing documentary. It’s an illuminating study of a volatile, troubled man that transported us back to the 60s and 70s. "

    Terms and Conditions: A UK Drill Story

    • Brian Hill, Kandise Abiola, Katie Bailiff, Fraser T Smith, Stuart Briggs & Andre Johnson for Century Films
    • YouTube Originals

    The film is an examination of drill music and the association it has with knife crime in the UK. In examining the links between this musical genre and violence we went beneath the surface and engaged with the drill community to understand their motivations. We commissioned five drill artists to write and record an original track which would help to dispel some of the myths around drill music.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges liked that this celebrated drill as an artform as it too often comes to our attention when it is linked to the rise knife crime. The film tackled the controversy around drill head on in an engaging and sometimes moving way. "

    Channel 5 Best Historical Documentary

    Apollo 11

    • Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss & Stephen Slater for Statement Pictures
    • General theatrical release

    Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission the one that first put men on the moon. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, Mission Control and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.

    The judges’ citation: " This film was celebrated by the judges as a tour-de-force of archive management and editing, with a particular focus on its command of audio. They felt the production values were so immense and the footage so pristine it could have been a reconstruction, with joyful moments that reflected the culture and times of 1969. "

    Crip Camp

    • Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Sara Bolder, Howard Gertler, Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis for A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation
    • Netflix

    A ground-breaking summer camp galvanises a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality.

    The judges’ citation: " This thoroughly enjoyable film told an important story about a moment in American history that is often overlooked. It did so in a feel-good way that put humans at the centre of the narrative. The judges applauded the sense of humour that gave this documentary about a serious political movement a refreshing and accessible tone. "

    A House Through Time - Episode 1

    • Eleanor Scoones, Katie Greening, Justin Badger, Mary Crisp, Maxine Watson & David Olusoga for Twenty Twenty Productions
    • BBC Two

    David Olusoga explores the remarkable history of an 18th Century sea captain’s house in Guinea Street Bristol. He discovers stories of slavery, piracy, an abandoned baby, a notorious political writer and a runaway black servant.

    The judges’ citation: " Compelling and emotional storylines told from a personal perspective won praise for this documentary which delved further back in history than its previous iterations or contemporary historical documentaries have generally done before. The timing of broadcast was astute and gave context to contemporary events whilst never oversimplifying the subject matter; the stories uncovered were ones of people often overlooked by history. "

    Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain - Episode 1

    • Robert Coldstream, Clare Cameron, Justin Badger, Jane Greaves & Edmund Coulthard for Blast! Films
    • Channel 4

    Jade Goody wasn’t the first Reality TV star – but she was the biggest. The most loved. The most hated. Earning millions from the tabloids and branded products she seemed unstoppable – but flew too close to the sun and became Britain’s most loathed woman. A dark fairy tale, Jade shines a light onto the battleground of class politics and social change in Britain in the early part of this century.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges felt this documentary was timely and nostalgic; covering a fascinating character in an intellectually stimulating way that centred them as part of contemporary British history. The documentary linked to themes relating to Brexit, the disenfranchisement of the working class, phone hacking, the duty of care scandal and many more, all in an exciting narrative package. "

    Sargent-Disc Best Science Documentary

    The Big Picture - The World According to AI: The Bias in the Machine

    • Sanjiev Johal, Cori Crider, Nicholas Muirhead, Ryan Kohls, Sean Griffin & Denise Lister for Al Jazeera English
    • Al Jazeera

    Artificial Intelligence is changing how we live and how our lives are governed, from predictive policing and criminal sentencing to loan assessments and health care. Far from creating a brave new world, AI is replicating and amplifying the prejudices of the world as it already is – unjust and unequal. We show how people of colour and minority communities from China to the US are the guinea pigs and victims in a world according to AI.

    The judges’ citation: " The film addressed how AI is replicating and amplifying the inequalities suffered by minority communities and those who are most deprived. It tackled an important and relevant subject which felt new and urgent in an accomplished way. "

    Einstein's Quantum Riddle

    • Jamie Lochhead, David Dugan, Clementine Cheetham & Alastair Auld for Windfall Films
    • BBC Four

    Einstein’s Quantum Riddle tells the remarkable story of perhaps the strangest phenomenon in science – Quantum Entanglement. It’s a story of mind-bending concepts and brilliant experiments, which lead us to a profound new understanding of reality.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges commended the commissioners and producers for the brave decision to make a film about Quantum Entanglement. The result was a mind-bending journey through quantum theory and related experiments. Using different genres was innovative and enjoyable and the history of the theory was illuminating. "

    Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal

    • Will Lorimer, James Gold, Liesel Evans & Pamela McIntyre for RAW
    • BBC Two

    Since 1996, almost 200 people have died from vCJD, whilst the cattle disease BSE has been responsible for the death of over four million cows. It has cost the NHS over a billion pounds. Beneath the statistics is a story of greed, corruption and catastrophic political misjudgement. With access to all the politicians, scientists and families who have been defined by this epidemic, this film pieces together a forgotten chapter of our recent history.

    The judges’ citation: " This was a story that the judges thought they knew a lot about before watching it; but, it was packed with truly shocking revelations about what happens when science meets politics. Illustrating the machinations and the lengths gone to in order to protect the food industry, it was a gripping story, well told. "

    War in the Blood

    • Arthur Cary, Morgan Matthews, Ben Brown, Saskia Rusher & Andrew Phillips for Minnow Films
    • BBC Two

    An intimate feature length documentary following two patients through groundbreaking ‘first in-human’ trials for CAR T-cell therapy, a treatment described as the beginning of the end of cancer.

    Not allowed to meet, Graham (53) and Mahmoud (18) are nevertheless bound together by their commitment to the treatment and their faith in the science. Terminally ill, the trial represents their only option. How do their ages and life experiences affect their physical and emotional response?

    The judges’ citation: " This was an extraordinary film: captivating from start to finish. It gave real insight into the process of developing pioneering medical treatment and highlighted the objectivity of the research scientists and the humanity of the doctors with their patients. The access and the relationship of trust the programme makers developed with the patients and their families made this film compelling. Their courage and motivation for driving science forward shone through in an emotional, well- paced film that was heart-breaking at times. The judges added that it was beautifully edited and, at feature length, gave the narrative time to breath and expand. "

    Discovery Best Natural History Documentary

    The Last Igloo

    • Christian Collerton, Will Grayburn, Joe Evans, Neil Crombie, Adam Simons & Mick Duffield for Swan Films
    • BBC Four

    This film tells the story of a typical day in the life of an Inuit hunter in Greenland, as he travels across the stunning arctic landscape with his dog sled, fishes through the sea ice, and finally builds an igloo. Documenting the ingenious craft of igloo-building before it’s too late, this film is an extraordinary and poetic sensory immersion in the landscape of ice and snow; an elegy to a world that is melting away.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges were hypnotised by this atmospheric film about a livelihood that feels completely other. The slow pace of the narrative was described as a meditative balm that leaves the viewer feeling enriched. To document a way of life that may be lost to future generations in such an original, captivating and immersive way is incredibly important. "

    Seven Worlds, One Planet: Antarctica

    • Jonny Keeling, Fredi Devas, Dave Pearce, Abigail Lees, Michael Becker & Scott Alexander for BBC Studios Natural History Unit
    • BBC One

    Deep beneath the Antarctic sea ice, psychedelic starfish carpet the ocean floor and gigantic jellyfish feel for prey. On the islands that fringe this polar continent, albatross chicks are hit by the full force of climate change and face a heart-breaking struggle to get back on their nests.

    Whilst in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, leopard seals stalk young penguins and in the richest seas on Earth, hundreds of the planet’s biggest whales gather in the greatest feeding spectacle ever seen. These waters and the life within them absorb twice as much carbon as the Amazon rainforest every year.

    It may be remote, but we are just beginning to understand that what happens in Antarctica affects us all.

    The judges’ citation: " Impeccable research, amazing photography and environmental story placement were key to this film’s nomination. Stories of animal behaviour and the way it changes due to climate change were told in an incredibly empathetic and powerful way, with a sweeping, cinematic orchestral score adding much warranted drama. Follow up shots of the film crew gave the documentary an emotional and human edge. "

    The Story of Plastic

    • Deia Schlosberg, Kyle Cadotte, Megan Ponder, Stiv Wilson, Tony Hale & Brian Wilson A Pale Blue Dot Media production for The Story of Stuff Project in association with React to Film
    • Discovery

    The Story of Plastic takes a sweeping look at the man-made crisis of plastic and the worldwide consequences it has on the health of our planet and those living on it. Spanning three continents, the documentary features engaging original animation and first-person accounts of the unfolding emergency, revealing the disastrous consequences of the flood of plastic smothering ecosystems and poisoning communities around the world – and the global movement rising up in response.

    The judges’ citation: " This film genuinely changed the judges’ attitudes to the subject matter; solidifying the chronic and awful way plastic has become a part of the natural world. It inspires action with its clear and compelling storytelling, mixing animation with wonderful photography and placing local campaigners at the heart of the narrative to powerful effect. "

    Tigers: Hunting the Traffickers

    • Laura Warner, Jo Prichard, Guy Creasey, Monica Garnsey, Anna Murphy & Orlando Von Einsiedel for Grain Media
    • BBC Two

    Aldo Kane, former Marine, investigates illegal tiger farms feeding the demand for banned tiger products.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges applauded the exposition of bureaucratic scandal in this investigative film, which spanned the nail-biting excitement of the natural world and the prosaic international institutions that govern them. The wonderful mix of filming devices and audio recordings was really appreciated and added to the thrill of the story. "

    YouTube Originals Best Entertaining Documentary

    The Dog House - Episode 3

    • Nick Mirsky, Anna Llewellyn, Morgana Pugh, Claire Parry, Katie Brimblecombe & Tom Bowman for Five Mile Films
    • Channel 4

    A new multi-camera rig series set inside Wood Green, The Animals Charity, in which homeless dogs are matched with hopeful dog owners. The programme captures the highs and lows of the human-dog dating experience.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges laughed and cried throughout this emotive documentary, which used a thoroughly entertaining story engine to tell diverse human stories. The family dynamics played out on-screen with quality, integrity and creativity which made for sweetly packaged narratives. "

    Love is Blind - Episode 3

    • Production team at Kinetic Content
    • Netflix

    Nick and Vanessa Lachey host this social experiment where single men and women look for love and get engaged, all before meeting in person.

    The judges’ citation: " Prescient to this moment in American history, this documentary felt modern and really pushed the dating format on with its scale and ambition. The judges felt it set out to answer the question it posed successfully and in a diverting way. "

    The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan: Zimbabwe

    • Romesh Ranganathan, Emily Hudd, Morgan Roberts, Chris Cottam & Andy Linton for Rumpus Media
    • BBC Two

    For most of his adult life, the only news coming out of Zimbabwe has been bad news. Robert Mugabe, the eviction of the white farmers and a general aura of danger have combined to make Zimbabwe a no-go zone in the eyes of the world. Now, with Mugabe finally gone, Rom is travelling around the country to find out if Brits should be holidaying here once more.

    The judges’ citation: " The chemistry between the lead and co-presenter on this show won the judges over. The documentary managed to approach a country, along with its politics and history, without any preconceptions. It made for fascinating yet accessible and thoroughly entertaining viewing. "

    Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness - Episode 2

    • Rebecca Chaiklin, Eric Goode, Chris Smith, Doug Abel, Dylan Hansen-Fliedner & Nicholas Biagetti for Goode Films Production in association with Library Films & Article 19 Films
    • Netflix

    This documentary series explores big cat breeding and its bizarre underworld, populated by eccentric characters that must be seen to be believed.

    The judges’ citation: " This mammoth series showcases just how many incredible characters and stories are out there to document. The jaw-dropping, frenzied twists and turns of the story were woven together with a prowess that reflected the chaos of the subject matter. "

    Netflix Best Documentary Series

    The Devil Next Door

    • Production team at One Man Show & Submarine Deluxe Production in association with Yes Studios
    • Netflix

    A Cleveland grandfather is brought to trial in Israel, accused of being the infamous Nazi death camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

    The judges’ citation: " The abundance of archive in this series made for an intricate and complex documentary. Lauded as retrospective storytelling at its finest, this series managed to remain neutral when grappling with serious subject matter, all whilst retaining its sleek style. "

    Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer

    • Mark Lewis, Felicity Morris, Dimitri Doganis, Adam Hawkins, Michael Harte & Bjorn Johnson for RAW
    • Netflix

    A twisted criminal's gruesome videos drive a group of amateur online sleuths to launch a risky manhunt that pulls them into a dark underworld.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges praised this diverting and surprising series’ clever use of music, graphics, visuals and archive to tell a truly gripping story. Compelling from the offset, the various narrative twists and turns combined with brilliant characters kept the viewers hooked throughout. "

    Hometown: A Killing

    • Jeremy Lee, Wes Thomas & Catey Sexton for Forest & 7 Wonder
    • BBC Three

    Award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar moves back to his hometown of Huddersfield to cover the death of Mohammed Yassar Yaqub but realises that there is a much bigger story in town.

    The judges’ citation: " This series selected the perfect presenter to tell a familiar crime story in a totally new way. The judges were impressed by the fresh approach to true crime and appreciated the nuanced way it engaged with the community involved. "

    Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain

    • Robert Coldstream, Clare Cameron, Justin Badger, Jane Greaves & Edmund Coulthard for Blast! Films
    • Channel 4

    Jade Goody wasn’t the first Reality TV star – but she was the biggest. The most loved. The most hated. Earning millions from the tabloids and branded products she seemed unstoppable – but flew too close to the sun and became Britain’s most loathed woman. A dark fairy tale, Jade shines a light onto the battleground of class politics and social change in Britain in the early part of this century.

    The judges’ citation: " Likened to a Greek tragedy of epic proportions, this series told an unlikely character’s story in a sophisticated manner to uncover broader themes of class, race and celebrity. The judges applauded the storytellers’ fantastic access, plus their ability to treat the subject sensitively whilst challenging the audience to consider their complicity. "

    Channel 4 Best Constructed Documentary Series

    Long Lost Family

    • Sally Benton, Clare Bradbury, Susie Attwood, Rick Barker & Johnny Wagener for Wall to Wall Media
    • ITV

    Long Lost Family follows the twists and turns of searches for people that no one else has been able to trace, reuniting family after years of separation and answering questions that have haunted entire lives.

    From the tale of a mother prosecuted for neglect of her children, to unsolved cases of people reported missing to the police; the series provides an insight into some of the most difficult examples of family separation with distinctive sensitivity.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges commended this established series for its consistently high standards and its sensitive handling of real issues that affect viewers at home as well as the families involved. They thought Nicky and Davina were the perfect hosts and - if they were assessing films by measuring the volume of tears shed - then this would have won! "

    The Rap Game UK

    • Tom O’Brien, Simon Andreae, Tom Whitrow, Lianne Hickey & Susie Dark for Naked
    • BBC Three

    The Rap Game UK was a six-part BBC series which saw seven unsigned rap musicians compete for a record deal with Play Dirty Records.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges applauded this BBC Three series where the contestants, hosts and guests were drawn from a multitude of diverse backgrounds. They were engaged by the contestants whose personalities came alive through their lyrics. "

    The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes

    • Benjamin Leigh, Trish Powell, Murray Boland, Martin Oxley, Louise Bartmann & Neil Cornish for CPL Productions & Motion Content Group
    • Channel 4

    The UK’s first restaurant staffed by people living with dementia is about to open. In a daring five-week experiment 14 volunteers all living with some form of dementia are about to make us think again. If diagnosed with this terminal disease whilst of working age four out of five lose their jobs, their independence and sometimes homes. Can taking part in this experiment transform lives and help them rediscover the people they used to be?

    The judges’ citation: " This series had a lightness of touch and a depth of emotion that pulled viewers in from the start. It was sometimes painful to watch but there were many moments of pure joy too. The judges felt that the viewer would learn a lot about how to talk to people with dementia. This was public service broadcasting at its best. "

    Who Are You Calling Fat?

    • Sara Ramsden, Charlotte Armstrong, Oliver Manley & Nicholas Packer for Love Productions
    • BBC Two

    A quarter of adults in the UK are living with obesity. Nine people who live with obesity, move in together to share their experiences and explore what it means to be big in the UK today. The housemates have starkly differing views. The growing Body Positivity movement encourages fat people to be proud of their bodies. Others are concerned about the health risks and believe that weight loss is the only path to true happiness.

    The judges’ citation: " This was a well-cast series with a good balance of opinion expressed. The discussions were revealing and illustrated the dilemma of health issues weighed against the Body Positive movement. "

    BFI Doc Society Fund Best Cinema Documentary

    American Factory

    • Production team at Higher Ground Productions & Participant Media for Netflix
    • General theatrical release

    In this documentary, hopes soar when a Chinese company reopens a shuttered factory in Ohio. But a culture clash threatens to shatter an American dream.

    The judges’ citation: " This was a classical, cinematic American observational documentary that demonstrates extraordinary access. Majestic and elegant in its scope, it is prosaic storytelling at its best. It was, the judges said, a film that showed great skill; a big, finely machined-tooled film that was intelligent and an enjoyable watch. "

    For Sama

    • Waad al Kateab, Ed Watts, Nevine Mabro, Ben de Pear, Siobhan Sinnerton & George Waldrum for Channel 4 News & ITN Productions for Channel 4 & PBS Frontline
    • General theatrical release

    A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab's life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her.

    Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice- whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter's life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much.

    The judges’ citation: " A searingly intimate, profound film about love, motherhood, heroism and war. Phenomenal and profound journalistic skills were used to take the camera into a community under impossible odds. Without being didactic it tells a number of truths, which were visceral and hugely moving. The judges, unanimous in their praise, said it was an incredible document of history that will stand the test of time. "


    • Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov & Atanas Georgiev
    • General theatrical release

    The last female bee-hunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood.

    The judges’ citation: " This was an arresting, amazing character-driven documentary that that was beautifully heart-breaking. Its cinematic, immersive soundscape drew you in and unfolded like a feature film. It explored huge themes with a depth and richness that was exceptional. Extraordinary and utterly epic film-making - it’s a masterpiece. "

    Midnight Family

    • Luke Lorentzen & Kellen Quinn
    • General theatrical release

    In Mexico City's wealthiest neighbourhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help.

    The judges’ citation: " A challenging watch for the judges as the filmmakers journeyed into a world and culture that is full of moral ambiguity. With powerful access, this was incredible actuality, which was totally fascinating, but simultaneously left viewers feeling conflicted. "

    The Rumi Foundation Best Documentary Short

    Country Girl

    • Ellen Evans & Pearl Doughty-White for BFI Doc Society
    • Open City Docs Film Festival

    Lillith’s benefits have been cut, threatening the thing in her life that gives it shape and purpose: her relationship with a troubled yet beloved horse. Fleeing a difficult past and struggling with rural poverty, she must take matters into her own hands, defying expectations and rising above the judgement of others.

    The judges’ citation: " This was compelling storytelling, a portraiture of the rural underbelly of Britain. The director demonstrated well-honed craft skills and the judges were impressed with the film’s intimacy, pacing and style which comes from having a strong relationship with the contributor. It was a complex story that shone a light on solace, succour and salvation in an animal, juxtaposed against a faceless bureaucracy. "

    Lost & Found

    • Orlando von Einsiedel & Harri Grace for National Geographic Documentary Films Presents in association with The Nobel Prize, a Rideback & Grain Media Production
    • National Geographic

    A brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing and violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military, has driven more than 700,000 Rohingya from their homes, separating thousands of families from loved ones along the way. Lost and Found, directed by Academy Award winner Orlando von Einsiedel (The White Helmets, Virunga), is an inspiring story of humanity and heroism in the world’s largest refugee camp, that follows Kamal Hussein, a Rohingya refugee who has dedicated his life to reuniting children with their parents.

    The judges’ citation: " A deeply moving and beautifully crafted documentary that made the judges think about the Rohingya in a different way. It was a powerful antidote to the white saviour narrative viewers have often been presented with. Viewers are taken into different territory, the big political story shown through a personal lens that shows a people’s collective resilience and instinct for survival. "

    That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

    • Hannah Currie & Beth Allan for Forest of Black & SDI - Bridging the Gap
    • Edinburgh International Film Festival

    Can Lindsay's love for her husband Paul sustain her through the trauma of his brain injury, which leaves him in a perpetual loop of memory loss and joke telling?

    The judges’ citation: " A poignant portrait about the hidden and untold intimacy between a husband and wife which is rarely seen. Even through adversity the couple are able to express their closeness for each other. This was a film that played with memory in a warm and funny manner, and the judges enjoyed spending time with the characters. "

    Witness: The Mortician of Manila

    • Leah Borromeo, Laura Shacham, Katharine Round, James Scott, Joshua Reyles & Jamie Perera for Disobedient Films & Al Jazeera Witness
    • Sheffield Doc/Fest

    Orly Fernandez manages and lives at Eusebio’s - a 24-hr funeral parlour in Manila. His relationships with clients and the journalists he meets daily colour the empathy and contempt he holds for drug war victims who, like him, are struggling to survive. With intimate access, this film gives us a deeper understanding of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency and war-on-drugs.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges described this as an important story with amazing access; an uncomfortable, difficult watch that was dark, chilling and grim. Full of rich symbolism the director held nothing back leading us into a kind of hell faced by the victims and their families. "

    All3Media Best Student Documentary


    • Sara Montoya Sepulveda, Mel Barnes, Rachel Roberts, Ethan Jeffrey, Breen Turner & Marco Valerio Caminiti for NFTS
    • University/College screening

    The humble banana is the cheapest, most popular fruit in the world, but at what cost? This film takes a sardonic look at how life is impacted by boom and bust capitalism.

    The judges’ citation: " A lively, polemical film that told a sophisticated story, but played with the form to engage with the judges in an imaginative and fun way. It skilfully articulated a strong point of view on a topical subject that is very much relevant today. "

    Bringing Home the Blubber

    • Molly Adams for London College of Communication
    • University/College screening

    A vulnerable portrayal of a Greenlandic seal hunter, and his journey through pain, loss and addiction to a life of fulfilment on the Arctic Ocean.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges described this film as ambitious in scope and beautifully shot, telling an emotional story in a visually strong way. Kudos to the director for finding such a compelling character with an interesting story in a visually arresting setting. "

    Inside a Marriage

    • Ben Cheetham, Margred Pryce, Adam Spek & Ed Rousseau for NFTS
    • University/College screening

    Shilpa and Dipak have been married for 10 years. But a recent event at home has forced them to separate. Now they are left questioning, when things go wrong, what can hold a family together.

    The judges’ citation: " This film achieved remarkable access to tell the story of a woman’s journey within her marriage, creatively exploring moments which are rarely captured. Its strong structure and themes kept the story moving along, skilfully showing viewers something new. Ambiguous to the end, it was a cracking film that the judges thought warranted a highly commended citation. "

    Miss Curvy

    • Ghada Eldemellawy & Gareth Pugh for NFTS
    • University/College screening

    When Uganda announces its first-ever beauty pageant for plus-size women, schoolteacher and single mother Namukasa Mariam seizes the opportunity. Hoping to gain strength by confronting past traumas (and her abusive ex-husband), she soon finds herself surrounded by national controversy, fierce rivalry and extravagant characters. Exploring timeless yet contemporary issues within a uniquely African context, Miss Curvy takes viewers on Mariam’s unforgettable journey through the extraordinary world of East African plus-size beauty pageantry.

    The judges’ citation: " An unconventional, entertaining film that was a joy to watch. Its original take felt personal and with access to great characters, it was able to explore dark and light themes in a fresh voice. It did not shy away from controversy and the judges felt that they were in good hands; whilst the direction gave viewers the room to make up their own minds. "

    Warner Bros. Television Production UK Best Documentary Presenter

    DAVID OLUSOGA for The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files

    • Uplands Television
    • BBC Two

    David Olusoga opens secret government files to show how the ‘Windrush Scandal’ and the ‘hostile environment’ for black British immigrants has been 70 years in the making.

    The film features Sarah O’Connor, Anthony Bryan and Judy Griffith. Settled here legally since childhood, they were re-classified as illegal immigrants by new regulations. Unable to show proof of their nationality status, they lost jobs, savings and their health, facing deportation back to countries they could barely remember.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges couldn’t think of anyone better to tell this story. David built the thesis that there is something racist in the British state with quiet authority and disgust. It was bravura journalism at the right time. "

    EMILY MAITLIS for Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview

    • BBC Newsnight
    • BBC Two

    In a Newsnight special, Emily Maitlis interviews the Duke of York as he speaks for the first time about his relationship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and allegations which have been made against him over his own conduct.

    The judges’ citation: " This was an amazing performance by Emily. She was controlled, poised and patient but forensic in her questioning. It was a masterclass in listening and questioning. She knew when to be silent and let Prince Andrew slowly condemn himself. "

    MOBEEN AZHAR for Hometown: A Killing

    • Forest & 7 Wonder
    • BBC Three

    Award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar moves back to his hometown of Huddersfield to cover the death of Mohammed Yassar Yaqub but realises that there is a much bigger story in town.

    The judges’ citation: " The judges were unanimous in choosing Mobeen. They described him as the complete package: captivating, inquisitive and brave. He pulled viewers into the story from the first and he was invested as it was his story too, his hometown. With great sensitivity and journalistic nous he revealed the inner workings of the hidden world of drugs and violence centred around Huddersfield, with touching moments which added to his naturalness as a presenter and his credibility. "

    STACEY DOOLEY for Stacey Dooley: On the Psych Ward

    • True Vision
    • BBC Three

    For three weeks Stacey joins staff on the wards at Springfield mental health Hospital to see how they deal with the pressures of an increasing number of young people struggling to cope. Working alongside the frontline mental health professionals, Stacey also hears from the young patients themselves during moments of crisis.

    The judges’ citation: " Stacey is as impressive as she is warm. In this programme she opened up a difficult and, at times, harrowing subject in an unflinching and insightful way. "

Published: 12 November 2020

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