Two new categories announced for 2016 British Documentary Awards: The Grierson Trust makes its annual call for entries

The 2016 British Documentary Awards are now open for business as The Grierson Trust makes its annual call for entries to the most prestigious awards in the documentary calendar, more fondly known as The Griersons.

This year there are 14 award categories with two new categories added. Best Constructed Documentary Series is a brand new category for 2016 for programmes that examine the actions or behavior of individuals within a created format or constructed environment. Best Science or Natural History has been split out into two different categories to better reflect the significance of both programme genres.

Lorraine Heggessey, Chairman of The Grierson Trust said: “Constructed Documentary is a hugely popular and growing genre of filmmaking which marries broad appeal with often ground-breaking and innovative science, history or social experiments. Series such as First Dates, Bear Grylls: Mission Survive 2016 and The Real Marigold Hotel have mass viewer appeal and have created some of the most talked about TV moments of the year. We decided it was time to also value their filmmaking merit.

“Whilst welcoming entries into all our categories, I would also like to actively encourage more broadcasters to enter films with BAME and female talent. As an industry body we would like to see a much wider variety of filmmakers both behind and in front of the camera entered which more accurately reflect the industry we champion and celebrate.”

All entries must have had their first UK screening between 1 May 2015 and 30 April 2016. This includes scheduled screenings within recognised film, television and documentary festivals. Entries are accepted for both analogue and digital platforms – such as Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon – as long as the screening was accessible by a UK-based audience.

Entries are welcomed in 14 categories:

  • The May Fair Hotel Best Documentary On A Contemporary Theme - Domestic


    A single documentary which deals primarily with UK-based subjects on contemporary themes: eg, society, business, health, religion, welfare etc. Includes biographical or first-person stories. 



    * Please note that single episodes from series will not be eligible but episodes from strands are acceptable.

  • Canadian High Commission Best Documentary On A Contemporary Theme – International


    A single documentary which deals primarily with international subjects on contemporary themes: eg, society, business, health, religion, welfare etc. Includes biographical or first-person stories.


    * Please note that single episodes from series will not be eligible but episodes from strands are acceptable.

  • The Open University Best Documentary On Current Affairs


    A single documentary, or an episode from a strand or series, which focuses on specific news or current affairs events. Entries may cover domestic or international subjects. Judges will be looking for evidence of outstanding investigative journalism, access and insights. 



  • Dogwoof Best Arts Documentary


    A single documentary, or an episode from a strand or series, on an arts subject.

  • ITN Source Best Historical Documentary


    A single documentary, or an episode from a strand or series, on an historical subject.

  • Clockwork Capital Best Science Documentary


    A single documentary, or an episode from a strand or series, which addresses any aspect of science or medicine.

  • Televisual Best Natural History Documentary


    A single documentary, or an episode from a strand or series, which addresses any aspect of natural history.

  • Nyman Libson Paul Best Entertaining Documentary


    A single documentary or an episode from a strand or series that sets out primarily to entertain. Judges will be looking for humour, wit and elegance of style. Entries can be on any subject and in any format, including factual and reality based programmes.

  • Evolutions Best Constructed Documentary Series

    An unscripted series, of two or more episodes, that examines the actions or behavior of individuals within a created format or constructed environment.

    * Entrants must provide a minimum of two episodes from the series for judging.

  • Envy Best Documentary Series


    A finite series of two or more episodes and with a single overall theme, planned by an individual or a team.


    * Entrants must provide a minimum of two episodes from the series for judging.

  • Bertha DocHouse Best Cinema Documentary


    A documentary that has had a UK theatrical release within the qualifying period. For the purposes of the awards a theatrical release is a screening in a UK cinema, open to the general public, for a period of at least seven days. The screenings can be in different cinemas and do not have to be on consecutive days.

  • Sky Atlantic Best Student Documentary


    Awarded to a student director for a film made during a UK-based, full-time academic course.

    * All entries must be supported by a description of the course and institution and the contact details of the course tutor.

    * Sky Atlantic will provide a bundle of prizes to the winner of this award, including a year’s subscription to Sky, mentoring, and the chance to pitch ideas to a commissioning editor.

  • Channel 4 Best Newcomer Documentary


    The first breakthrough documentary from a new director to receive a public screening or broadcast. The entrant may have worked in other areas of the industry in any capacity or may have directed work that has not received a public screening or transmission or for which they have not had full editorial control.


    * All entries must be supported by a CV, which includes all previous production credits and contact details of two referees.

  • Warner Bros. TV Production UK Best Documentary Presenter


    This award goes to the presenter who has made the most outstanding contribution to documentary programming within the qualifying period. Whether in arts, music, religion, history, science, natural history or contemporary theme, the jury is looking for presenters who bring originality of thought, insight, perspective and content to a subject. 



    * All entries must be supported by a statement of up to 500 words about why the presenter should be considered for this award.

  • BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award


    For an outstanding contribution to the art or craft of the documentary. The recipient of this award is chosen solely by The Grierson Trust at its discretion.

The judges will be looking for evidence of quality, integrity, creativity, originality and overall excellence in all categories. The closing date for entries is Tuesday, 31 May 2016 and winners will be announced at a star-studded ceremony on 7 November at The Mermaid, Blackfriars, London.

Published: 1 April 2016

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