"For Sama" Named Best Feature At International Documentary Awards
"For Sama" (PBS Distribution, Channel 4, Frontline)
  • LOS ANGELES
  • --

For Sama (PBS Distribution, UK’s Channel 4)--directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts--won the best feature honor at last night’s (12/7) International Documentary Awards in Los Angeles. Additionally the International Documentary Association (IDA) presented its Courage Under Fire Award to al-Kateab for her bravery in the pursuit of truth, putting herself in harm’s way as a documentary filmmaker and journalist.

For Sama is an intimate yet at the same time epic journey into the female experience of war. 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 al-Kateab 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.

This also marked the first year that the IDA’s International Documentary Awards had a Best Director category. Earning that honor were Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert for American Factory (Netflix, Participant Media, Higher Ground Productions), which chronicles the culture clash that ensues when a shuttered General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio, is taken over by a giant Chinese company.

Taking the Best Writing category were Alisar Hasan and director Feras Fayyad for The Cave (National Geographic) which introduces us to an aspiring pediatrician who saves lives by running a makeshift underground hospital in the besieged Syrian city of Ghouta. This tale of heroism again showcases courage and decency amidst and in response to inhumane acts.

Among other winners were Leaving Neverland (HBO) for Best Multi-part Documentary, Homecoming: A Film By Beyonce (Netflix) for Best Music Documentary, and Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl) (Lifetime Films, A&E Indiefilms) for Best Short. 

Here’s a full rundown of the evening’s winners:

Best Feature Documentary
For Sama
Director/Producer: Waad al-Kateab
Director: Edward Watts
PBS DISTRIBUTION, CHANNEL 4, FRONTLINE

Best Director 
Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
American Factory
NETFLIX

Best Short
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl)
Director: Carol Dysinger
Producer: Elena Andreicheva
LIFETIME FILMS, A&E INDIEFILMS

Best Curated Series
Dokumania
Executive Producers: Anders Bruus
DANISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION

Best Episodic Series
Abstract: The Art of Design
Executive Producers: Scott Dadich, Morgan Neville, Dave O’Connor, Justin Wilkes and Jon Kamen
NETFLIX

Best Multi-Part Documentary
Leaving Neverland
Director/Producer: Dan Reed
Executive Producers: Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller
HBO

Best Short Form Series
A Moment in Mexico — The New York Times Op-Docs
Executive Producer: Kathleen Lingo. Coordinating Producer: Lindsay Crouse
NEW YORK TIMES

Best Audio Documentary
A Sense of Quietness
Producer: Eleanor McDowall
Executive Producers: Alan Hall and Rachel Hooper BBC RADIO 4

Best Music Documentary
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
Director/Producer: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Director: Ed Burke
Producers: Steve Pamon and Erinn Williams
NETFLIX

David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award
Brewed in Palestine
Director/Producer: Emma Schwartz
UC BERKELEY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM

Best Cinematography 
Honeyland
Cinematographers: Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma
NEON

Best Editing
Midnight Family
Editor: Luke Lorentzen and Paloma López Carrillo
1091

Best Music Score 
The Raft
Composer: Hans Appelqvist
METROGRAPH PICTURES

Best Writing 
The Cave
Writers: Alisar Hasan and Feras Fayyad
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Pare Lorentz Award Winner
THE PARE LORENTZ AWARD RECOGNIZES FILMS THAT DEMONSTRATE EXEMPLARY FILMMAKING WHILE FOCUSING ON THE APPROPRIATE USE OF THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, JUSTICE FOR ALL AND THE ILLUMINATION OF PRESSING SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

Honeyland (Recipient)
Director: Tamara Kotevska
Director/Producer: Ljubomir Stefanov
Producer: Atanas Georgiev
NEON

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Honorable Mention)
Director: Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky
Producer: Nadia Tavazzani
KINO LORBER

ABC News VideoSource Award
THE ABC NEWS VIDEOSOURCE AWARD IS GIVEN EACH YEAR FOR THE BEST USE OF NEWS FOOTAGE AS AN INTEGRAL COMPONENT IN A DOCUMENTARY.

Mike Wallace is Here (Recipient)
Director: Avi Belkin
Producers: Rafael Marmor, John Battsek, Peggy Drexler, Avi Belkin and Christopher Leggett
MAGNOLIA PICTURES

2019 IDA Documentary Awards Honorary Awards

Amicus Award: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Career Achievement Award: Freida Lee Mock

Courage Under Fire Award: Waad al-Kateab (For Sama)

Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award: Rachel Lears (Knock Down The House, The Hand That Feeds)

Pioneer Award: Cinereach

Truth to Power Award: Leah Remini

Category: 


MySHOOT Company Profiles