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2000 IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards Nominees

By IDA Editorial Staff

Bach in Auschwitz

Feature Documentaries

Bach in Auschwitz
Executive Producer: Sheila Nevins
Producers/Directors: Sege Lalou and Michel Daëron
Cinemax Reel Life

They were called “the ladies of the orchestra”: forty women whose musical talents spelled the difference between life and death at Auschwitz. In Bach in Auschwitz, twelve surviving orchestra members remember what it was like to “play for time,” serenading their Nazi captors—and fellow prisoners—during the darkest chapter of modern history.


Face to Face: The Schappell Twins
Producers/Directors: Katherine Drew, Ellen Weissbrod and Amy Briamonte

Face to Face profiles Lori and Reba Schappell, conjoined twins attached at the forehead. Complicating the Schappell’s existence is the fact that Reba has spina bifida, is much shorter than Lori and cannot walk by herself. This documentary captures their extraordinary existence and unfathomable emotional bond.


Executive Producer: Olivia Lichtenstein
Producer/Directoir: Angus McQueen

Gulag is not simply a story of repression, but an exploration of the way the Gulag camp system stands as a metaphor for Soviet Russia, for the camps combined repression with a huge economic purpose that lay at the heart of Stalin’s plans to industrialize.


Executive Producer: Sheila Nevins
Producer/Director: Tod S. Lending

Shot over four years, this film captures an African-American family passing through dramatic and unexpected transitions. The powerful and dignified voices of three generations of women tell the inspiring story of how they are breaking free of welfare, overcoming drug addiction and escaping the violence in their community.


The Most Unknowable Thing
Producer/Director: Mary Patierno

Opening with the marriage of her gay brother David to Connie, his female chiropractor, Mary Patierno’s documentary begins to unravel his complex life. Shot over a period of five years, The Most Unknowable Thing moves fluidly between significant moments in David’s life—the sickness of his lover Carlos, his relationship with Connie and the bizarre tragedy that struck soon after their marriage. 


One Day in September
Executive Producer: Lillian Birnbaum
Producers: Arthur Cohn and John Battsek
Director: Kevin MacDonald

Few events have brought home to the world the realities of modern terrorism quite so dramatically as the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich by a Palestinian group known as Black September. One Day in September combines dramatic archival footage with detailed eyewitness testimony and the first and only interview with the sole surviving terrorist who actually took part in the operation.


Paragraph 175
Producers/Directors: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s latest feature documentary is built around personal stories of homosexual men who experienced persecution under the Nazis. Their collective story fills a crucial gap in the historical record and is a testament to human resilience in the face of unconscionable cruelty.


The Prince is Back
Producers/Directors: Chantal Bernheim, Georg Herzfeld and Marina Goldavskaya

The Prince is Back profiles a descendant of the Romanoffs, Eugene Meschersky, who returns to his ancestors’ devastated estate to restore to it some semblance of its past glory. The prince’s project, leaden with comic futility, is a wry comment on the state of post-Soviet Russia today.


Punitive Damage
Executive Producer: Sheila Nevins
Producer: Gaylene Preston
Producer/Director: Annie Goldson
Cinemax Reel Life

Punitive Damage follows the story of New Zealander Helen Todd, who sued an Indonesian general after her 20-year-old son Kamal was shot in East Timor in 1991. Kamal’s death and Helen’s determination helped to contribute to the recent dramatic changes in East Timor.


Stranger with a Camera
Executive Producer: Dee Davis
Producer/Director: Elizabeth Barret
Co-Producer: Judi Jennings

Stranger with a Camera investigates the 1967 killing of Canadian filmmaker Hugh O’Connor, who was shot while documenting poverty in the Kentucky coalfields. Director Elizabeth Barret looks at the death of O’Connor and the motivations of Hobart Ison, the irate property owner who shot him. Through her exploration of the tragic incident and its aftermath, Barret reflects on the power of media representation.


Swedish Tango (Schwedischer Tango)
Producers/Directors: Olaf Grunert and Jerzy Sladowski

(synopsis not yet available)


Through a Blue Lens
Executive Producer: Sheila Nevins
Producer/Director: Veronica Mannix
Cinemax Reel Life

Through a Blue Lens combines on-the-street video interviews shot by actual police with vérité images by Emmy Award-winning cinematographer Dan Mannix, depicting the devastating impact of drugs on men and women living on skid row in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Limited Series


Culture Shock
Executive Producer: Jill Janows
Producer/Director: Marsha Bernko

Culture Shock is a four-part historical documentary series on controversial art, cultural values and freedom of expression. Each film tells the story of classic modern work in different art forms—literature, painting, film and music—that has been censored or challenged, and explores its present-day relevance. The works are a springboard for a broader discussion of the relationship between art, morality and society, past and present.


Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure
Producers/Directors: Martha Wailes, David F. Trunbull, Anne James & Edward Mirzoeff
Prominent Television/BBC 1

This program takes viewers straight to the heart of Ernest Hemingway the man, as Michael Palin explores the life and locales of this great American writer.


Red Files
Producers/Directors: J. Mitchell Johnson, William Cran & Greg Barker
InVision Production with Abamedia/PBS/Devillier Donegan Enterprises

The four-part series exposes the Soviet view of recent history through interviews with key Soviet participants, never-before seen archival film and declassified dossiers. Many of these compelling stories of personal and political intrigue were hidden from the West—and even fellow Russians—for generations.


Tell About the South: Voices in Black and White
Producer/Director: Ross Spear
James Agee Film Project

Tell About the South: Voices in Black and White is the first documentary to dramatize the story of Southern literature--a tale of unprecedented cultural and artistic expression amid social and economic turmoil. From World War I to the Civil Rights movement to the present, the writers of the South, both black and white, have explored the mysteries of their region’s troubled soul, giving readers stories of paradox and beauty.


Short Documentary 


The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo
Producer: Jonathan Stack
Director: Simeon Soffer

Each Sunday in October, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is host to one of America’s most unusual events. Over 6,000 free people line up to enter the gates of America’s largest maximum security prison and pack themselves into a rodeo arena encircled with razor wire and surrounded by guard towers. With all of the events of a regular rodeo, as well as a few unique to Angola, the Angola Prison Rodeo is a dangerous and entertaining spectacle. 


Chan K’in Viejo: The Last of the Mayans
Producers/Directors: Garrick Wilkie and James Wilkie

Chan K’in Viejo: The Last of the Mayans explores the life and world view of 104-year-old Chan K’in Viejo, the last sage, spiritual leader and storyteller of the Lacandan Mayan Indians. Chan K’in recounts the Mayan creation story, the history of his people, the ethic of life in the rainforest and the ancient Mayan prophesy about the fate of the world. 


Death of a Corner Drugstore
Producer/Director: Brooke Maroldi

This documentary tells the story of how one eccentric drugstore in Milwaukee affected its neighborhood. Through interviews with staff, customers and the owner, Death of a Corner Drugstore expresses the community’s deep sense of loss while articulating broader issues of corporate encroachment.


Producer: MacGillivray Freeman Films for IMAX®
Producers/Director: Greg MacGillivray and Alec Lorimore

Dolphins is a large-format documentary that explores the world of wild dolphins and three marine biologists who study them. 


Fit for Jesus (Fit für Jesus)
Producer: Gunnar Dedio
Director: Steffan Schneider

Fit For Jesus profiles a German priest, Thomas Kabel, who infuses the dusty old church rites with a new, nearly manic, energy that is part performance art and part workout.


IDA/ABCNEWS VideoSource Award Nominees


Children in War
Executive Producer: Sheila Nevins/HBO
Producers/Directors: Alan and Susan Raymond

Children in War takes a no-holds-barred look at the devastating effects of war on young people, as told by the children of Bosnia, Israel, Rwanada and Northern Ireland. 


Eleanor Roosevelt
Producers/Directors: Kathryn Dietz and Sue Williams

This AMERICAN EXPERIENCE profile explores the secretive and surprising private life of a controversial American figure and one of the most admired women in America. 


Fists of Freedom: The Story of the ’68 Summer Games
Producers/Directors: George Roy and Ross Greenburg
HBO Sports/Black Canyon Productions

This provocative documentary examines one of the most memorable sports moments of the century: The black-gloved, fists-held-high power salutes of US Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the victory stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.


George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire
Producers/Directors: Daniel McCabe and Paul Stekler
Midnight Films & Big House Productions for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE/WGBH

This epic profile presents a complicated character of Shakespearian dimension, one who embodied Southern politics, power and ideology.


Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport
Producer: Deborah Oppenheimer
Director/Writer: Mark Jonathan Harris

Into the Arms of Strangers recounts the dramatic story of Britain’s rescue of 10,000 Jewish and other children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia in the nine months prior to the outbreak of World War II. 


Riding the Tiger
Producers/Directors: John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson

High tech arrogance, an ignorance of other cultures, a reliance on overwhelming military power: This was the American War in Vietnam. Riding the Tiger is an unsentimental evocation of that war, its story told by GIs, Vietnamese villagers and journalists.


Television Magazine Segment


The Power of One
Channel One News
Executive Producer: Scott Garen
Producer/Director/Writer: John D’Amelio
Reporter: Tracy Smith
Videographer: John D’Amelio

Every so often, you hear how a complex problem is solved by an innocent, clear-thinking child. This is one of those stories. When 15-year-old Virginia high school student Jessica Novak saw images of the genocide in Rwanda and the hordes of starving orphans, she was moved to pity. But unlike most of us, she found a way to help the people there directly. The Power of One documents Jessica’s life-saving endeavor—an inspiration for  thousands of her fellow teens to follow. 

SCOTT GAREN is an diversified filmmaker and producer/director/writer with extensive experience ranging from documentaries to music videos, dramatic programs and telefilms. Prior to joining Channel One, Garen worked for the Walt Disney Company producing and directing prime-time specials. 

Strand Program Nominees


Eleanor Roosevelt
Producers/Directors: Kathryn Dietz and Sue Williams

This AMERICAN EXPERIENCE profile explores the secretive and surprising private life of a controversial American figure and one of the most admired women in America. 


George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire
Producers/Directors: Daniel McCabe and Paul Stekler
Midnight Films & Big House Productions for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE/WGBH

This epic profile presents a complicated character of Shakespearian dimension, one who embodied Southern politics, power and ideology.


Paul Robeson: Here I Stand
Executive Producer: Susan Lacy
Producers/Directors: Chiz Schultz and St. Claire Bourne

Paul Robeson was one of the most visible, influential and admired African-Americans of his time, who challenged the foundations of American racism and withstood a relentless government campaign against him. This program takes viewers on an expansive journey across the world, from Robeson’s performances on stage and screen and in concert, to the triumphs and trials in his fight for his beliefs.


Sleeping with the Enemy
Producers/Directors: Catrine Clay and Laurence Rees

TIMEWATCH has traced two French women who slept with the enemy during World War II and suffered for it under the self-appointed People’s Tribunals. Their reminiscences, together with the testimonies of neighbors and resistance fighters, create a portrait of collaboration that shows that the history of the occupation is not as convenient as the People’s Tribunal wanted to believe. 


They Drew Fire
Producers: Nicole Newnham and Bonni Cohen
Director: Brian Lanker
Oregon Public Broadcasting

It was 1943 when the War Department of the US government selected a number of outstanding American artists to record the war in all its phases. Seven of the veteran artists are featured along with their stunning works in They Drew Fire. The combination of storytelling, footage and the paintings creates a rich fabric that tells the tale of men who risked their lives as soldiers while capturing visions of war on canvas.