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The Grierson Trust takes great pleasure in announcing the winners of the Griersons 2010 – The British Documentary Awards. Hosted by presenter and documentary maker, Sandi Toksvig, the star-studded awards ceremony took place tonight at the BFI Southbank where the great and good of the documentary world came together to celebrate another outstanding year of film-making.

Sandi Toksvig

The first award of the evening, Envy Best Documentary Series went to Patrick Forbes for The Force, exploring the harsh realities of modern detective work for the Hampshire Constabulary. Chairman of the judging panel, Terry Back, commended the series both for its great craft in editorial and technical execution but also for a programme “that kept everyone hanging on through every twist and turn through to the final resolution.”

Next up on the podium were the winners of the Best Cinema Documentary which went to Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson for their powerful, and often terrifying, account of one family’s courage as they fight Zimbabwe’s harsh land reforms in Mugabe and the White African. John Battsek, who chaired the Cinema panel, summed up the jury’s thoughts saying: “A powerful, emotional and important film, the jury was unanimous in its selection of this beautiful and brave film. Stunningly shot and supremely crafted, ultimately it left the jury with no choice but to award it the top prize.”

The jury for History Today Best Historical Documentary arrived at a rare but immediate and unanimous decision when they crowned Julien Temple’s Requiem for Detroit as winner. Jury chairman Murray Weston commented: “It is a film which conjures up the past, through the creative use of archive film, music, and personal testimony to address the present-day reality of the effects of the collapse of Western industrial power. It is ballsy and poetic, having style, verve and energy, delivering a proper journey and narrative addressing an important subject.”

In the next category – Best Arts Documentary – the jury chairman, Peter Symes, said: “Given the well-known constraints negotiating the use of the private archive, which inevitably hampers anyone working in this field, the judges were unanimous in choosing a beautifully crafted film that offered us a chance to get close to one of the poetic giants of the twentieth century, a film that remained throughout a joy to watch, but which never once forgot that it was at the service of the poetry.” The winner was Arena: T.S. Eliot directed by Adam Low.

The jury for Most Entertaining Documentary thoroughly enjoyed their task of choosing a winner, giving rise to a passionate and energetic debate, but in selecting their ultimate winner jury chairman Emma Hindley said: “The winner was a unanimous decision. It's a flawlessly made film; original and insightful, it asks questions rather than telling you what to think and at the same time, manages to be very, very funny." The award went Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop. Naturally Banksy wasn’t available to collect his award in person although he did send a special message to the awards gathering.

As well as celebrating the established names in the documentary world, the Griersons also seek out and support new film-makers as the Jonathan Gili Award for Best Newcomer comes with a £3000 prize to help support the winner in the development of their next film. Andrew Lang took the prize for his film Sons of Cuba following the lives of boys training at the Havana Boxing Academy. Jury chair Ellen Fleming said: “It was beautifully shot, well constructed, with varied pace and a wonderful score. More than the others, it had a sense of drama, while retaining the documentary element. It painted an intimate portrait of the boys, their families and the coaches, as well as telling us about the society in which the academy exists.”

The award for Best Drama Documentary is often hotly disputed and this year’s winner demonstrates more than most why this genre of film-making is an immensely valuable part of the UK’s documentary culture. Peter Travis and Paula Milne took the crown for their film Endgame which was commended by the jury as “a film which told an epic story, with a consistently strong cast, and through good writing sustained a sense of jeopardy throughout. The film was well shot, beautifully designed and told an enlightening story. Of all the nominations, it was one which the judges felt stood out because the use of drama was the only way to document this particular story,” said jury chair, Christopher Hird.

Acclaimed filmmaker Penny Woolcock took the Trustee’s Award in recognition of her outstanding achievement and contribution to the art of documentary filmmaking. Penny almost fell into film-making by accident in her late 30s but has since made some extraordinary and daring films including The Wet House, The Five of Us and One Day. In his citation, Peter Symes summed up saying: “What is extraordinary, is that this uncompromising documentary film-maker has now blossomed into such an innovative and daring artist – from Tina Goes Shopping to the brilliantly successful transformation of John Adams’ opera The Death of Klinghoffer for Channel 4; from her rap feature film One Day about the gangs of Birmingham to On The Streets, her latest documentary film about the London homeless.”

The award for Best Science Documentary followed with David Hickman’s Race and Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo taking the title for ambition that stood out in dealing with a difficult issue in a way that felt fresh, timely and brave. Special praise went to presenter Rageh Omaar “whose courage to take on the issues in the moment” was greatly admired, said jury Chair, Mandy Chang.

Wrapping up the evening was the Shell International Best Documentary Award on a Contemporary Issue. Perennially the most coveted and highly prized category, the judges once again commended all the shortlisted films in the category but awarded the ultimate prize to Mat Whitecross for Moving to Mars as “surprising, gentle and honest, the film explored the realities of asylum with great sensitivity and patience. And they were rewarded with character development that often only comes from great drama. The jury agreed it was the winner because of its humane, unflinching treatment of one of the great contemporary issues of our time,” said jury chair, Peter Dale.

Summing up the event, Dawn Airey, Chairman of The Grierson Trust said: “The Griersons are the most prestigious awards in the documentary world and a time to take stock and champion the huge creative success that is the UK documentary industry.

“Our winners prove that documentary making is in excellent health with films of astonishing versatility and diversity which take viewers into unknown and unchartered territory. Our filmmakers remain tough, tenacious and courageous, unafraid to tackle difficult subjects and I congratulate all of them!”

To see the whole evening – including Banky’s unique acceptance speech - tune in to Current TV’s transmission of the awards on Saturday 6th November at 9pm and repeated at Sunday 7th November (Sky Channel 183 and Virgin Media Channel 155).

The Grierson Trust is generously supported by JP Morgan, Shell, Five, BBC, ENVY, History Today, ITN Source, British Council, Canadian High Commission, Ascent 142, BFI, Warner Bros, Sopher + Co and DV Talent.

Full List of Winners and Credits

Full List of Winners and Credits

For more information:
Fiona Williams
020 8746 7778

Published: 03-Nov-2010