ANNOUNCING THE WINNERS OF GRIERSON 2014: The 42nd British Documentary Awards in association with Sky Atlantic and Shell
London, 3 November 2014, 9pm: The Grierson Trust takes great pleasure in announcing the winners of Grierson 2014: The 42nd British Documentary Awards in association with Sky Atlantic and Shell with Channel 4 taking a record eight of the available 13 prizes.
Hosted by TV presenter, comedian, documentary presenter, writer and cake connoisseur Sue Perkins, the star-studded awards ceremony took place tonight on London’s Southbank at Queen Elizabeth Hall where the great and the good of the documentary world came together to celebrate another outstanding year of film-making.
Viewers will be able to watch the awards on Sky Atlantic HD on Friday 7th November, 11.10pm.
Lorraine Heggessey, Chairman of The Grierson Trust opened the evening saying: “Watching this year’s entries is a fabulous reminder of how the documentary is alive and kicking in this digital age – there are funny, uplifting and moving films alongside those that pack a punch and expose the darker underbelly of our society. The richness of the human condition and the complexities of 21st century life are celebrated and scrutinised.”
The first prize of the evening was the Satusfaction Best Science or Natural History Documentary which went to Mark Levinson’s Particle Fever, taking viewers deep into the workings of the Hadron Collider and scientists’ epic quest to find the elusive Higgs boson. The award was presented by Laverne Antrobus and commended by the jury as “a stunning piece of work. It’s a breathtaking film that lets scientists show us their world in all its magnitude.” The jury was chaired by Stuart Carter.
With unprecedented access to the workings of a Scottish Courtroom The Murder Trial forensically examines a complex case from beginning to end. Led by Celia Taylor, the judges described it as the “Rolls Royce” of documentaries crowning it Molinare Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – Domestic. The award was presented to director Nick Holt by Davina McCall.
This was followed by the ITN Source Best Arts Documentary. Actor Colin Salmon presented the award to John Bridcut for his film Colin Davis In His Own Words, an intimate confession from a celebrated conductor. The jury, chaired by Richard Alwyn, praised the film for “its integrity, its intelligence and its form, this film did what all good documentary film-making can do - it transcended its subject matter. It was more than just an illuminating film about an artist and their craft, it was a deeply moving portrait reflecting on their impact and the passing of their life.”
The fourth award of the evening was the Shell Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – International. Always a hugely competitive category, this year the crown went to Dispatches: Children on the Frontline. Giving voice to the forgotten victims of Syria’s civil war, the film offers shocking insight into life for kids living in the divided city of Aleppo. Jury chairman Alex Cooke summed up the judges’ thoughts saying: “It deserves its recognition as an extraordinary and surprising film which was impeccably judged and deeply moving. It took its viewers on an intimate and compelling journey, with remarkable interviews full of insight and empathy.” The award was presented by actor Rupert Everett to directors Anthony Wonke and Marcel Mettelsiefen.
Director Benjamin Till continued his nuptial celebrations as his film My Gay Wedding: The Musical was crowned Nyman Libson Paul Most Entertaining Documentary. Comedian Micky Flanagan presented the award to Ben and his husband Nathan whose wedding – the first “gay wedding” to take place in Britain - marked an historic moment for same-sex marriage in strikingly celebratory fashion. The judges praised it as “a bold concept, perfectly executed. It has amazing confidence from the get-go and stands apart as a unique, important, moving and joyous piece of television,” said jury chairman Sanjay Singhal.
From comedy to current affairs, the sixth award of the evening was The Open University Best Current Affairs Documentary. Channel Four’s Dispatches team took their second award of the night with Hunted. Revealing the brutal world of Russia’s persecuted gay population, Hunted gained extraordinary access to vigilante groups allowing viewers a glimpse of the violence doled out by homophobic gangs. The award was presented to director Ben Steele by journalist Kay Burley and jury chairman Emma Hindley summed up the judges thoughts saying: “The winner stood apart for taking its audience to a place that we think we are familiar with and bravely revealing a desperate, disturbing place where victims are hunted like animals with impunity.”
The Bertha Dochouse Best Cinema Documentary crown followed and was taken by Cutie and the Boxer - a candid account of the lives of two artists living and working in New York, the film is a bitter-sweet reflection on love, sacrifice and the creative spirit. Sue Perkins presented the award to director Zachary Heinzerling. Lorraine Heggessey, who was chairing the judging panel, admitted “Cutie and the Boxer stood out as a true ‘gem’. It was outstanding in its film craft, beautifully shot and edited with a sensitivity and rawness that took a domestic story and made it universal. It was rich and profound, moving more than one jury member to tears as it portrayed the complexities of our relationships combined with a great use of archive and animation.”
Rupert Everett then returned to the stage as the winner of the Stockroom Archive Management Best Documentary Presenter for his film Love for Sale, which the jury praised as “a journey of self revelation with an all round masterful performance. He charms, and is brave, flirtatious and playful. His life experience very much clouds the story which is told with amazing honesty. He revealed enough of his own story for us to invest in the film not just as an observer but as a compassionate participant too. This was unlike anything seen on television before,” said jury chair Andy Whittaker. Jamie Theakston presented the award.
From seasoned pro to CTVC Best Newcomer Award which was presented to director Marc Williamson for his film Last Chance School. Jury chairman Jo Clinton-Davis summed up the judges’ decision saying: “The judging panel for the Newcomers Award felt that the winning director had created a truly accomplished film. It was tender and compelling but never mawkish; the viewer is seduced into rooting for the underdog and then privileged to witness the extraordinary breakthroughs that take place. It was a piece of great storytelling with great contributors.” The prize was presented by Educating Essex’s Stephen Drew.
The tenth award of the evening was the Sky Atlantic Best Student Documentary. Adam Buxton presented the award to Peter Akar for his film Sing Your Heart Out. Charting the progress of a choir that brings together a diverse group of people all dealing with depression Sing Your Heart Out demonstrates the restorative power of music and was praised by jury chairman David Dehaney as “warm, uplifting and redemptive, despite its difficult subject matter, and packed with a strong cast of interesting individual characters.”
Editor Ben Preston then presented the Educating Yorkshire team with the Radio Times Reader’s Choice Award. He said: “The Radio Times award is voted for by real viewers – those thousands of discerning and discriminating Radio Times readers who have a passion for the great television you all make. Thousands of real people who talk about your programmes - and talk through your programmes - just like they do on Gogglebox!”
The ITN Source Best Historical Documentary Award was then presented to the Brook Lapping team behind The Iraq War: Regime Change which set out to expose the political manoeuvring that lead us to war; including, for first time, testimony from key players inside Saddam’s regime. Jury chairman Angela Holdsworth said: “This film stood out as a riveting investigation of history in the making.” The award was presented by Bettany Hughes.
The penultimate award of the evening was The Grierson Trustee’s Award. Richard Klein presented the award to Alex Graham. Presenting the award, Richard Klein said: “Alex is a passionate Arsenal fan, and to use a footballing analogy, for a big man he has a deft touch and is elegant on the ball. He understands the need for a killer pass, a sharp and incisive move that is original and cuts through. That elegance extends to a gift, an instinct for creating programme shapes that deliver proper and full entertainment experiences but which also allow audiences to consume content in depth and with emotional integrity. That is a complicated way of saying Alex, you have always made bloody good telly.” In 1987, Alex help found Wall to Wall and was CEO from 1997 to 2013. During his tenure, Wall to Wall produced a remarkable range of popular and critically acclaimed programming from hit series New Tricks, Long Lost Family and The Voice UK to award winning films including A Rather English Marriage and Man on Wire. Alex created two of Wall to Wall’s groundbreaking history series – The 1900 House and Who Do You Think You Are? Its programmes have won almost every major television award on both sides of the Atlantic and in 2009, the company’s first feature documentary – Man on Wire – won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Wrapping the evening up, the Envy Best Documentary Series Award went to Educating Yorkshire – in their second gong of the evening. The jury chairman, Liesel Evans said: “It was another strong year for the documentary series category with thought provoking, ambitious and important films to choose from. It was a close call but the winner is a celebratory series which is life affirming, funny, moving, and sensitive, with an impressive range of contributors, all represented in a rounded and respectful way. And it was incredibly well crafted and expertly produced.”
The Grierson Trust is grateful to and generously supported by Sky Atlantic, Shell, Satufaction, The Open University, ITN Source, Envy, Bertha DocHouse, Molinare, Stockroom Archive Management, Nyman Libson Paul, Radio Times, CTVC and Dogwoof.
Published: 3 November 2014
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