The 2020 Grierson Awards

The 2020 Grierson Awards take place on 12 November. This year, the event - celebrating factual filmmaking and named after pioneering Scottish documentary filmmaker John Grierson - will be virtual, broadcast via YouTube.

 

Established in 1972, the Griersons recognise documentaries from Britain and abroad that have made a significant contribution to the genre and demonstrate quality, integrity, creativity, originality and overall excellence. There are some superb documentaries up for awards this year including For Sama, Crip Camp, Apollo 11, American Factory, Honeyland, Midnight Family, and Lost & Found.

 

The 2020 Grierson Awards categories and nominees are…

 

Best Single Documentary - Domestic

 

The Family Secret

Anna Hall, Sally Ogden, Luke Rothery & Brian Woods for Candour Productions

Channel 4

Kath had a secret she couldn't tell anyone. She carried it for 25 years. Her brother had raped her when she was seven and he was ten - it lasted for four years. The Family Secret captures the moment when Kath and her brother Rob enter a restorative justice meeting where the truth is laid bare and they face what happened for the first time with their mum as witness.

 

Suicidal: In Our Own Words

Rachel Harvie, David DeHaney, Emmanuel Ayettey & Iain Pettifer for Proper Content

Channel 5

One man takes his own life every two hours. In a process never before seen on television, this ground-breaking and unflinching documentary follows the unique work carried out by the Central and North-West London Mental Health Trust and the stories of six men, who have 20 suicide attempts between them.

 

Tell Me Who I Am

Production team at Lightbox

Netflix

Alex wakes up from a coma having forgotten everything. The only thing he does know is that the person next to him is his twin brother, Marcus. Alex relies on Marcus to provide his memories, but the idyllic childhood Marcus paints for his twin conceals a dark family secret.

 

War in the Blood

Arthur Cary, Morgan Matthews, Ben Brown, Saskia Rusher & Andrew Phillips for Minnow Films

BBC Two

An intimate feature length documentary following two patients through ground-breaking ‘first in-human’ trials for CAR T-cell therapy, a treatment described as the beginning of the end of cancer.

 

The Open University Best Single Documentary - International

 

Crip Camp

Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Sara Bolder, Howard Gertler, Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis for A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation

Netflix

A ground-breaking summer camp galvanises a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality.

 

The Day California Burned

Sarah Waldron, Fiona Stourton, Dan Edge, Ella Newton & Jane McMullen for Brook Lapping Productions & BBC Current Affairs London

BBC Two

On 8 November 2018, a megafire swept through northern California. In its path was the town of Paradise. Within four hours, around 30,000 people had lost their homes. It was the deadliest fire in America for a century. Drawing on hundreds of hours of footage, this film tells the chilling and dramatic account of that day.

 

The Great Hack

Production team at A Noujaim Films Production & an othrs Production

Netflix

Explore how a data company named Cambridge Analytica came to symbolise the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election.

 

Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein

Ursula Macfarlane, Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn, Poppy Dixon & Andy R Worboys for Lightbox

BBC Two

A devastating exposé of the meteoric rise and shocking fall of the movie mogul made during the year before he was convicted for rape and sexual assault. At the heart of the film are his victims’ painfully frank accounts of his abuse, of the damage it did to their lives and the complicity of the Hollywood machine. Untouchable makes clear the vital importance of speaking out and of the entertainment industry’s long overdue cultural reckoning.

 

Real Stories Best Current Affairs Documentary

 

Al Jazeera Investigations: Diplomats for Sale

Deborah Davies, Kevin Hirten, Nicholas Dove, Craig Pennington, Emmanuel Panaretos & Phil Rees for Al Jazeera Media Network

Al Jazeera

Diplomats for Sale reveals a secretive black-market business where ambassadorships are sold to the highest bidder. The documentary exposes a global trade in diplomatic appointments that has helped Caribbean politicians retain power and provided immunity to criminals. Broadcast shortly before a general election in Dominica, the documentary shows how the leaders of both main political parties are willing to accept secret campaign contributions from foreigners seeking the privileges of diplomatic status.

 

Sex for Grades

Kiki Mordi, Ogechi Obidiebube, Chiara Francavilla, Charlie Northcott, Andy Bell & Marc Perkins for BBC World Service

BBC Africa Eye

Female students in Nigeria and Ghana have been complaining of sexual harassment by their university professors for decades. Now, in this investigative documentary, local journalist Kiki Mordi goes undercover to capture evidence of this behaviour first-hand by uncovering shocking abuse in West Africa’s top universities.

 

Undercover with the Clerics: Iraq’s Secret Sex Trade

Paddy Wells, Mais Al-Bayaa, Nawal Al Maghafi, Monica Garnsey, Chris Mitchell & Gary Beelders for BBC News Arabic

BBC News Arabic

In this hard-hitting undercover investigation, Nawal Al Maghafi exposes a secret world of sexual exploitation in Iraq. She uncovers how some Shia clerics are grooming and exploiting vulnerable girls and young women, leaving them trapped in prostitution. A young widow alleges that a cleric sold her to his friends in a prostitution ring, while secret filming reveals another cleric conducting a so-called ‘pleasure marriage’ with a girl he believes to be only 13 years old.

 

Undercover: Inside China's Digital Gulag

Robin Barnwell, Gesbeen Mohammad, Guy Creasey, Simon Russell & David Henshaw for Hardcash Productions

ITV

ITV goes undercover into China’s secretive Xinjiang region. The Chinese government is holding an estimated million or more Muslims in detention camps - the largest incarceration of an ethnic group since WW2. This unprecedented investigation reveals how twelve million other Muslims are living in a human laboratory where the world’s most invasive surveillance state is being created to control them, destroying their cultural identity and creating technologies that are being exported to authoritarian states worldwide.

 

Storm Best Arts or Music Documentary

 

The Black Godfather

Reginald Hudlin, Nicole Avant, Byron Phillips, Nelson George, Catrin Rodgers & Andrew Fried for Boardwalk Pictures & Hudlin Entertainment

Netflix

This documentary follows the life of Clarence Avant, the ultimate, uncensored mentor and behind-the-scenes rainmaker in music, film, TV and politics.

 

Imagine... Edna O'Brien: Fearful and Fearless

Katy Homan, Tanya Hudson, Jude Suggett & Alan Yentob for BBC Studios

BBC One

Edna O’Brien is one of the greatest literary talents and rule breakers of her generation. In 1960, her revolutionary debut novel The Country Girls broke down social and sexual barriers for women and was subsequently banned in her native country of Ireland. The unstoppable O’Brien continues to produce some of the most urgent work of her unparalleled career. Her eighteenth novel, Girl, a searing story inspired by the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, will be published later this year. In this honest and engaging documentary, Alan Yentob meets Edna O’Brien to discuss sex, books and a lifetime of defiance.

 

Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall

Alfred George Bailey, Adam Biskupski, Ian Arber, Tatiana Kennedy, Amelia Davis & Nicolas Sampson for Bailey Kennedy Production. Modern Films

General theatrical release

An outsider with attitude, Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall chronicles the infamous photographer’s life behind and outside the camera. A child of immigrants and a life battling inner demons, Jim fought his way to become one of the most trusted mavericks behind a lens throughout 60’s history, capturing the most iconic figures in music history from Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, to the infamous image of Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar.

 

Terms and Conditions: A UK Drill Story

Brian Hill, Kandise Abiola, Katie Bailiff, Fraser T Smith, Stuart Briggs & Andre Johnson for Century Films

YouTube Originals

The film is an examination of drill music and the association it has with knife crime in the UK. In examining the links between this musical genre and violence we went beneath the surface and engaged with the drill community to understand their motivations. We commissioned five drill artists to write and record an original track which would help to dispel some of the myths around drill music.

 

Channel 5 Best Historical Documentary

 

Apollo 11

Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss & Stephen Slater for Statement Pictures

General theatrical release

Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, Mission Control and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.

 

Crip Camp

Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Sara Bolder, Howard Gertler, Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis for A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation

Netflix

A ground-breaking summer camp galvanises a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality.

 

A House Through Time - Episode 1

Eleanor Scoones, Katie Greening, Justin Badger, Mary Crisp, Maxine Watson & David Olusoga for Twenty Twenty Productions

BBC Two

David Olusoga explores the remarkable history of an 18th Century sea captain’s house in Guinea Street Bristol. He discovers stories of slavery, piracy, an abandoned baby, a notorious political writer and a runaway black servant.

 

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain - Episode 1

Robert Coldstream, Clare Cameron, Justin Badger, Jane Greaves & Edmund Coulthard for Blast! Films

Channel 4

Jade Goody wasn’t the first Reality TV star – but she was the biggest. The most loved. The most hated. Earning millions from the tabloids and branded products she seemed unstoppable – but she flew too close to the sun and became Britain’s most loathed woman. A dark fairy tale, Jade shines a light onto the battleground of class politics and social change in Britain in the early part of this century.

 

Sargent-Disc Best Science Documentary

 

The Big Picture - The World According to AI: The Bias in the Machine

Sanjiev Johal, Cori Crider, Nicholas Muirhead, Ryan Kohls, Sean Griffin & Denise Lister for Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera

Artificial Intelligence is changing how we live and how our lives are governed, from predictive policing and criminal sentencing to loan assessments and health care. Far from creating a brave new world, AI is replicating and amplifying the prejudices of the world as it already is – unjust and unequal. 

 

Einstein's Quantum Riddle

Jamie Lochhead, David Dugan, Clementine Cheetham & Alastair Auld for Windfall Films

BBC Four

Einstein’s Quantum Riddle tells the remarkable story of perhaps the strangest phenomenon in science – Quantum Entanglement. It’s a story of mind-bending concepts and brilliant experiments, which lead us to a profound new understanding of reality.

 

Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal

Will Lorimer, James Gold, Liesel Evans & Pamela McIntyre for RAW

BBC Two

Since 1996, almost 200 people have died from vCJD, whilst the cattle disease BSE has been responsible for the death of over four million cows. It has cost the NHS over a billion pounds. Beneath the statistics is a story of greed, corruption and catastrophic political misjudgement. With access to all the politicians, scientists and families who have been defined by this epidemic, this film pieces together a forgotten chapter of our recent history.

 

War in the Blood

Arthur Cary, Morgan Matthews, Ben Brown, Saskia Rusher & Andrew Phillips for Minnow Films

BBC Two

An intimate feature length documentary following two patients through groundbreaking ‘first in-human’ trials for CAR T-cell therapy, a treatment described as the beginning of the end of cancer.

 

Discovery Best Natural History Documentary

 

The Last Igloo

Christian Collerton, Will Grayburn, Joe Evans, Neil Crombie, Adam Simons & Mick Duffield for Swan Films

BBC Four

This film tells the story of a typical day in the life of an Inuit hunter in Greenland, as he travels across the stunning arctic landscape with his dog sled, fishes through the sea ice, and finally builds an igloo. 

 

Seven Worlds, One Planet: Antarctica

Jonny Keeling, Fredi Devas, Dave Pearce, Abigail Lees, Michael Becker & Scott Alexander for BBC Studios Natural History Unit

BBC One

Deep beneath the Antarctic sea ice, psychedelic starfish carpet the ocean floor and gigantic jellyfish feel for prey. On the islands that fringe this polar continent, albatross chicks are hit by the full force of climate change and face a heart-breaking struggle to get back on their nests.

 

Meanwhile, in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, leopard seals stalk young penguins and, in the richest seas on Earth, hundreds of the planet’s biggest whales gather in the greatest feeding spectacle ever seen. These waters and the life within them absorb twice as much carbon as the Amazon rainforest every year.

 

It may be remote, but we are just beginning to understand that what happens in Antarctica affects us all.

 

The Story of Plastic

Deia Schlosberg, Kyle Cadotte, Megan Ponder, Stiv Wilson, Tony Hale & Brian Wilson A Pale Blue Dot Media production for The Story of Stuff Project in association with React to Film

Discovery

The Story of Plastic takes a sweeping look at the man-made crisis of plastic and the worldwide consequences it has on the health of our planet and those living on it. Spanning three continents, the documentary features engaging original animation and first-person accounts of the unfolding emergency, revealing the disastrous consequences of the flood of plastic smothering ecosystems and poisoning communities around the world – and the global movement rising up in response.

 

Tigers: Hunting the Traffickers

Laura Warner, Jo Prichard, Guy Creasey, Monica Garnsey, Anna Murphy & Orlando Von Einsiedel for Grain Media

BBC Two

Aldo Kane, a former Marine, investigates illegal tiger farms feeding the demand for banned tiger products.

 

YouTube Originals Best Entertaining Documentary

 

The Dog House - Episode 3

Nick Mirsky, Anna Llewellyn, Morgana Pugh, Claire Parry, Katie Brimblecombe & Tom Bowman for Five Mile Films

Channel 4

A new multi-camera rig series set inside Wood Green, The Animals Charity, in which homeless dogs are matched with hopeful dog owners. The programme captures the highs and lows of the human-dog dating experience.

 

Love is Blind - Episode 3

Production team at Kinetic Content

Netflix

Nick and Vanessa Lachey host this social experiment where single men and women look for love and get engaged, all before meeting in person.

 

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan: Zimbabwe

Romesh Ranganathan, Emily Hudd, Morgan Roberts, Chris Cottam & Andy Linton for Rumpus Media

BBC Two

For most of his adult life, the only news coming out of Zimbabwe has been bad news. Robert Mugabe, the eviction of the white farmers and a general aura of danger have combined to make Zimbabwe a no-go zone in the eyes of the world. Now, with Mugabe finally gone, Romesh Ranganathan examines if Brits should be holidaying here once more.

 

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness - Episode 2

Rebecca Chaiklin, Eric Goode, Chris Smith, Doug Abel, Dylan Hansen-Fliedner & Nicholas Biagetti for Goode Films Production in association with Library Films & Article 19 Films

Netflix

This documentary series explores big cat breeding and its bizarre underworld, populated by eccentric characters that must be seen to be believed.

 

Netflix Best Documentary Series

 

The Devil Next Door

Production team at One Man Show & Submarine Deluxe Production in association with Yes Studios

Netflix

A Cleveland grandfather is brought to trial in Israel, accused of being the infamous Nazi death camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

 

Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer

Mark Lewis, Felicity Morris, Dimitri Doganis, Adam Hawkins, Michael Harte & Bjorn Johnson for RAW

Netflix

A twisted criminal's gruesome videos drive a group of amateur online sleuths to launch a risky manhunt that pulls them into a dark underworld.

 

Hometown: A Killing

Jeremy Lee, Wes Thomas & Catey Sexton for Forest & 7 Wonder

BBC Three

Award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar moves back to his hometown of Huddersfield to cover the death of Mohammed Yassar Yaqub but realises that there is a much bigger story in town.

 

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain

Robert Coldstream, Clare Cameron, Justin Badger, Jane Greaves & Edmund Coulthard for Blast! Films

Channel 4

Jade Goody wasn’t the first Reality TV star – but she was the biggest. The most loved. The most hated. Earning millions from the tabloids and branded products she seemed unstoppable – but she flew too close to the sun and became Britain’s most loathed woman. A dark fairy tale, Jade shines a light onto the battleground of class politics and social change in Britain in the early part of this century.

 

Channel 4 Best Constructed Documentary Series

 

Long Lost Family

Sally Benton, Clare Bradbury, Susie Attwood, Rick Barker & Johnny Wagener for Wall to Wall Media

ITV

Long Lost Family follows the twists and turns of searches for people that no one else has been able to trace, reuniting family after years of separation and answering questions that have haunted entire lives.

 

The Rap Game UK

Tom O’Brien, Simon Andreae, Tom Whitrow, Lianne Hickey & Susie Dark for Naked

BBC Three

The Rap Game UK is a six-part BBC series which saw seven unsigned rap musicians compete for a record deal with Play Dirty Records.

 

The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes

Benjamin Leigh, Trish Powell, Murray Boland, Martin Oxley, Louise Bartmann & Neil Cornish for CPL Productions & Motion Content Group

Channel 4

The UK’s first restaurant staffed by people living with dementia is about to open. In a daring five-week experiment, 14 volunteers living with some form of dementia are about to make us think again. 

 

Who Are You Calling Fat?

Sara Ramsden, Charlotte Armstrong, Oliver Manley & Nicholas Packer for Love Productions

BBC Two

A quarter of adults in the UK are living with obesity. Nine people who live with obesity, move in together to share their experiences and explore what it means to be big in the UK today. 

 

BFI Doc Society Fund Best Cinema Documentary

 

American Factory

Production team at Higher Ground Productions & Participant Media for Netflix

General theatrical release

In this documentary, hopes soar when a Chinese company reopens a shuttered factory in Ohio. But a culture clash threatens to shatter an American dream.

 

For Sama

Waad al Kateab, Ed Watts, Nevine Mabro, Ben de Pear, Siobhan Sinnerton & George Waldrum for Channel 4 News & ITN Productions for Channel 4 & PBS Frontline

General theatrical release

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.

 

Honeyland

Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov & Atanas Georgiev

General theatrical release

The last female wild bee-keeper in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood.

 

Midnight Family

Luke Lorentzen & Kellen Quinn

General theatrical release

In Mexico City,, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help.

 

The Rumi Foundation Best Documentary Short

 

Country Girl

Ellen Evans & Pearl Doughty-White for BFI Doc Society

Open City Docs Film Festival

Lillith’s benefits have been cut, threatening the thing in her life that gives it shape and purpose: her relationship with a troubled yet beloved horse. Fleeing a difficult past and struggling with rural poverty, she must take matters into her own hands, defying expectations and rising above the judgement of others.

 

Lost & Found

Orlando von Einsiedel & Harri Grace for National Geographic Documentary Films Presents in association with The Nobel Prize, a Rideback & Grain Media Production

National Geographic

A brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing and violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military, has driven more than 700,000 Rohingya from their homes, separating thousands of families from loved ones along the way. Lost and Found, directed by Academy Award winner Orlando von Einsiedel (The White Helmets, Virunga), is an inspiring story of humanity and heroism in the world’s largest refugee camp. The film follows Kamal Hussein, a Rohingya refugee who has dedicated his life to reuniting children with their parents.

 

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

Hannah Currie & Beth Allan for Forest of Black & SDI - Bridging the Gap

Edinburgh International Film Festival

Can Lindsay's love for her husband Paul sustain her through the trauma of his brain injury, which leaves him in a perpetual loop of memory loss and joke telling?

 

Witness: The Mortician of Manila

Leah Borromeo, Laura Shacham, Katharine Round, James Scott, Joshua Reyles & Jamie Perera for Disobedient Films & Al Jazeera Witness

Sheffield Doc/Fest

Orly Fernandez manages and lives at Eusebio’s - a 24-hour funeral parlour in Manila. His relationships with clients and the journalists he meets daily colour the empathy and contempt he holds for drug war victims who, like him, are struggling to survive. With intimate access, this film gives us a deeper understanding of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency and war-on-drugs.

 

All3Media Best Student Documentary

 

Bananas

Sara Montoya Sepulveda, Mel Barnes, Rachel Roberts, Ethan Jeffrey, Breen Turner & Marco Valerio Caminiti for NFTS

University/College screening

The humble banana is the cheapest, most popular fruit in the world, but at what cost? This film takes a sardonic look at how life is impacted by boom and bust capitalism.

 

Bringing Home the Blubber

Molly Adams for London College of Communication

University/College screening

A vulnerable portrayal of a Greenlandic seal hunter and his journey through pain, loss and addiction to a life of fulfilment on the Arctic Ocean.

 

Inside a Marriage

Ben Cheetham, Margred Pryce, Adam Spek & Ed Rousseau for NFTS

University/College screening

Shilpa and Dipak have been married for 10 years. But a recent event at home has forced them to separate. Now they are left questioning... when things go wrong, what can hold a family together?

 

Miss Curvy

Ghada Eldemellawy & Gareth Pugh for NFTS

University/College screening

When Uganda announces its first-ever beauty pageant for plus-size women, schoolteacher and single mother Namukasa Mariam seizes the opportunity. Hoping to gain strength by confronting past traumas (and her abusive ex-husband), she soon finds herself surrounded by national controversy, fierce rivalry and extravagant characters. Exploring timeless yet contemporary issues within a uniquely African context, Miss Curvy takes viewers on Mariam’s unforgettable journey through the extraordinary world of East African plus-size beauty pageantry.

 

Warner Bros. Television Production UK Best Documentary Presenter

 

DAVID OLUSOGA for The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files

Uplands Television

BBC Two

David Olusoga opens secret government files to show how the ‘Windrush Scandal’ and the ‘hostile environment’ for black British immigrants has been 70 years in the making.

 

The film features Sarah O’Connor, Anthony Bryan and Judy Griffith. Settled here legally since childhood, they were re-classified as illegal immigrants by new regulations. Unable to show proof of their nationality status, they lost jobs, savings and their health, facing deportation back to countries they could barely remember.

 

 

EMILY MAITLIS for Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two

In a Newsnight special, Emily Maitlis interviewed the Duke of York about his relationship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and allegations that have been made against him over his own conduct.

 

MOBEEN AZHAR for Hometown: A Killing

Forest & 7 Wonder

BBC Three

Award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar moves back to his hometown of Huddersfield to cover the death of Mohammed Yassar Yaqub but realises that there is a much bigger story in town.

 

STACEY DOOLEY for Stacey Dooley: On the Psych Ward

True Vision

BBC Three

For three weeks, Stacey joined staff on the wards at Springfield Mental Health Hospital to see how they deal with the pressures of an increasing number of young people struggling to cope. Working alongside the frontline mental health professionals, Stacey also hears from the young patients themselves during moments of crisis.

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