Multi award-winning film director, writer and producer Asif Kapadia will be honoured with the prestigious BBC Grierson Trustees' Award at the 2020 British Documentary Awards.

Broadcast in partnership with Little Dot Studios on 12 November on The Grierson Trust’s new YouTube Channel, the ceremony will be hosted by comedian Sara Pascoe.

The BBC Grierson Trustees' Award

Asif Kapadia's films have taken viewers from the foothills of the Himalayas and the beaches of Argentina to the racetracks of Dubai and soon into space. He is a filmmaker that knows no bounds, yet his documentaries are intimate, revealing portraits of some of the most famous names on earth.

Credited as the filmmaker who reinvented the documentary form, he is a multi-award winner with a trophy cabinet showcasing an Oscar, five BAFTAs, a European Film Award, Sundance and Grammy Awards as well as a Grierson for Best Arts Documentary for his landmark, Amy. This was one of three documentaries in his acclaimed trilogy Amy, Senna and Diego Maradona, focusing on the rise and fall of child geniuses and the price of fame. These ground-breaking films work dramatically like fiction movies but are constructed entirely from archive footage.

Announcing the Trustees' Award, Chairman of The Grierson Trust, Lorraine Heggessey says:

"The genius of Asif is that he manages to really get under the skin of his subjects, drawing viewers in and making you feel like you know them personally but with such a sophisticated use of archive footage to paint them anew. His works are a masterclass in the subtle art of slowly peeling away the layers until their inner soul is laid bare. As a result, his films aren't just a hit with reviewers, but audiences too - making him Britain's biggest box-office-breaking documentarian.

Not content with having invented his own genre of documentary, Asif continues to innovate and challenge himself as evidenced in his current exploration of XR with his next project, Laika. We have always considered The Grierson Trustees' award as recognition of a filmmaker's continued excellence and outstanding contribution to documentary. Asif Kapadia is at the height of his creative powers and we wait with great anticipation to see where he will take us and viewers next."

Long term friend, colleague, and Home's Artistic Director for Film and Culture, Jason Wood said:

"I can think of few people more deserving than the honour of receiving the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award than my friend Asif Kapadia. A filmmaker who works across both factual and fictional filmmaking, he has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to documentary filmmaking as both an art form and as a way of attracting new and diverse audiences. Beyond Asif’s undeniable talents as a director, he is also incredibly supportive of the arts, giving his time, advice and support freely. He is also offers proof and hope that success for working-class filmmakers of colour is an attainable goal. He is truly an inspiration."

Born in 1972 in Hackney, London, Asif’s parents came to the UK from Gujarat, India in the 60s. His international, bilingual background mixed with his rich, multicultural working-class upbringing in Hackney motivated him to travel. He shoots films around the world, his work crosses genres from drama to documentary, features to shorts, he’s always been fascinated by landscape, politics, culture and family. Asif is presently directing and executive producing an Apple TV documentary series with Executive Producers Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry focusing on mental health and well-being. And he recently announced a move into XR, creating a film about Laika, the Russian space dog.

In receiving the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award, Asif follows in the illustrious footsteps of previous Trustees' Award winners including documentary luminaries Dorothy Byrne, Sir Trevor MacDonald OBE, Alastair Fothergill, Louis Theroux, Sir David Attenborough, John Battsek, Molly Dineen, Nick Fraser, Alex Graham, Kim Longinotto, Kevin MacDonald, Norma Percy, John Pilger and Penny Woolcock. Acknowledged as the Oscars of the documentary world, the Trustees’ Award crowns the crème de la crème of the industry, recognising an outstanding contribution to the art or craft of documentary making.

Now in their 48th year, the Griersons celebrate the best in documentary filmmaking carrying prestige and allure for factual filmmakers from across the globe.

To watch the awards, tune in to The Grierson Trust's new YouTube channel at 7pm GMT on Thursday, 12 November. Sign up now for reminders.

Published: 20 October 2020

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