Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Grierson Trust salutes Louis Theroux's film adventures

Louis Theroux in My Scientology Movie
Louis Theroux’s career as a documentary-maker was honoured by the Grierson Trust at the 44th British Documentary Awards, which were held in London last week. Theroux’s films have included explorations of celebrity culture, the penal system and cults.

Over the past 20 years Theroux’s work, mainly for the BBC, has included the Weird Weekends series and a series of profiles of people who have been in the media, including the DJ Jimmy Savile, publicist Max Clifford and the disgraced MP Neil Hamilton. This year he revisited When Louis Met Jimmy… in the wake of revelations of the DJ’s prolific sexual abuse. Theroux’s latest project, My Scientolology Movie, is currently on theatrical release.

The Grierson Trustees’ Awards were presented at London’s Mermaid Theatre on 7 November. The event saw awards presented to factual reports made for both theatrical relase and television.

The evening also celebrated The Grierson Trust’s training and mentoring scheme DocLab, which is now in partnership with Bertha DocHouse. DocLab participants are recruited from across the UK, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds, not just culturally, but also socio-economically and geographically.

The DocLab initiative has given opportunities to 48 young people to explore documentary making, offering them access to leading filmmakers, production companies and commissioning editors at Sheffield Doc/Fest. The scheme also matched them with industry mentors and sourced paid work placements with production companies and broadcasters, proving an invaluable first taste of the profession.

The trust was established in 1974 to honour the British documentary director John Grierson (1892-1972).

44th British Documentary Awards: The winners

Grierson Trustees’ Award: Louis Theroux
There is nobody else quite like Louis Theroux,” said BBC Director of Content, Charlotte Moore. “Over the past 20 years, he has established himself as one of the most distinctive voices in filmmaking, winning critical acclaim, legions of international super-fans and a rake of awards. But Louis has never been one to rest on his laurels. He may have cut his teeth on the bizarre and the extreme, hanging out with porn stars, survivalists, revivalists, swingers and celebrities, but by the time everyone else started latching on to the power of celebrity, Louis had already graduated to more serious territory, turning his attention to some of the most complex issues we face in the modern world – addiction, paedophilia, rehabilitation, justice and collective guilt. He ploughs his own furrow, and never stands still.”

Best Cinema Documentary: Cartel Land
Director: Matthew Heineman (first shown: General theatrical release)
Jury chair
Morgan Matthews said: “Terrifying, compelling and epic. Cartel Land is a film with a twisting and twisted narrative, capturing shocking and extraordinary scenes, whilst painting a layered and complex portrait of dangerous characters in a seemingly lawless world.”

Best Arts Documentary: Amy
Director: Asif Kapadia for On The Corner (First shown: General theatrical release)
Jury chair James Quinn said: “Amy is a film that lives and breathes in a way that is relentlessly and powerfully emotional.”

Best Natural History Documentary: The Hunt: The Hardest Challenge
Director: Huw Cordey for Silverback Films, BBC, BBC Worldwide, BBC America, The Open University, CCTV9, NDR Naturfilm (First shown: BBC One)

Jury chair Liz Brion said: “The Hunt has superb, jaw-dropping photography combined with compelling storytelling and a precise narrative structure which ranged in tone and pace. It kept us captivated from the opening sequence.”

Best Newcomer Documentary: Where You're Meant To Be 

Director: Paul Fegan for Better Days (First shown: Glasgow Film Festival)
Jury chair Chris Durlacher said: “This a rare example of a filmed journey that really was a journey, both physically and emotionally, as it explores the difficult issue of how the present day deals with the past.”

Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme (Domestic): How To Die: Simon's Choice 

Director: Rowan Deacon for Minnow Films, The Open University (First shown: BBC Two)
Jury chair Lorraine Heggessey said: “This winner stood out as a film that has incredible access to its contributors and really tugged at the heart strings making a valuable contribution to the debates surrounding these big issues. It was clear that there was a relationship of trust between the filmmaker and Simon, his family and friends resulting in a deeply moving and terrific film.”

Historical Documentary: Attacking the Devil

Directors: Jacqui Morris and David Morris for Frith Street Films (First shown: General theatrical release)
Jury chair Tom McDonald said: “This is a beautifully crafted film, full of passion, fire and insight. And a timely reminder of the necessary pursuit of truth."

How to Change the World team with their trophy
Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme (International): How To Change the World

Director: Jerry Rothwell for Met Film Production, Insight Productions, Daniel Films (First shown: Sundance Film Festival 2015, London)
Jury chair Alex Cooke said: “The winner stood apart as an extraordinary film which tells a big story. It blends the brilliant use of unseen archive footage and skilful storytelling whilst capturing the spirit of idealism and friendship.”

Best Entertaining Documentary: Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds
Directors: Teresa Watkins, Emily Lawson and Nicola Brown for RDF Media; (First shown: Channel 4)
Jury chair Amy Flanagan said: “We were unanimous in our decision about the winner - which was perfectly pitched in being informative, educational and hugely entertaining. It was positive, celebratory and had a broad appeal.”

Best Student Documentary: Women In Sink

Director: Iris Zaki for Royal Holloway, University of London (First shown: UK Jewish Film Festival)
Jury chair Emma Hindley said: “The jury were impressed with this hopeful portrait in a complex reality, offering great insight into a heated and controversial international issue. The filmmaker had clearly thought about their practice and craft as a documentary maker in an innovative and unusual way.”

Best Documentary Presenter: Paul Mayhew Archer for Parkinson’s: The Funny Side

BBC South (First shown: BBC One)

Jury chair Liesel Evans: “What sets our winner apart is his use of humour in tackling a complicated subject in a way that felt genuine and persuasive whilst being completely charming and insightful.”

Best Current Affairs Documentary: The World - Outbreak: The Truth About Ebola

Director: Dan Edge for Mongoose Pictures and Quicksilver Media (First shown: BBC Two)
Jury chairs Christopher Hird and Clare Handford said: “The winning film told an important story powerfully with outstanding investigative journalism, compelling scenes and revelatory insights, which combined to produce an exceptional and thought-provoking piece of filmmaking.”

Best Science Documentary: Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor
Director: Nic Stacey for Furnace TV (First shown: BBC Four)
Jury chair Sanjay Singhal said: "This is a delightful watch, full of surprises, beautifully crafted, technically immaculate and packed with information. It made you fall in love with the subject, finding yourself asking all the way through: who knew? A lovely film.”

The Real Marigold Hotel team with their trophy
Best Constructed Documentary Series: The Real Marigold Hotel

Director: Tom Currie for Twofour (First shown: BBC Two)
Jury chair David Dehaney said: "Beautifully observed and exceptionally executed this winner stood apart as charming and heart-warming. And funny."

Best Documentary Series: The Murder Detectives
Director: Dave Nath for Films of Record (First shown: Channel 4)
Jury chair Andy Whittaker said: “The judges had an interesting and lively debate about the four final films. It was a closely fought argument before they settled on an eventual winner. The jury felt that the overall standard this year has really raised the bar which was already set high. This is great news for the documentary community as it pulls everything and everyone up. In particular, the excellence of the access gained to communities and contributors is moving forwards incredibly.”

Lorraine Heggessey, chair of The Grierson Trust said: “These winning films demonstrate the vibrant and innovative ways in which the UK documentary industry is the world leader and they give such optimism for the future of the genre. From the provocative to the heart-warming, the funny to the simply astonishing, our award winners deserve the accolade and recognition a Grierson bestows upon them.”

The event was hosted by impressionist Jon Culshaw and awards presenters included: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband, Dr Chris van Tulleken, Ant Middleton, Idris Elba, Lucy Cooke, Miriam Margolyes, Stephen Mangan, Mark Dolan, Tyger Drew-Honey, Sophie Morgan and Nina Nannar.

BLACK STAR showcases Ngozi Onwurah's career

Shoot the Messenger
British-Nigerian filmmaker Ngozi Onwurah’s work will be celebrated by the BFI as part of the BLACK STAR season. With Welcome II the Terrordome in 1995, she became the first black British woman director to have a feature film theatrically released in UK cinemas.

With a title co-opted from a track by New York rappers Public Enemy, the film provoked questions about race relations, drugs, crime and police brutality. It remains her sole feature film to date.

Welcome II the Terrordome is available on BFI Player as part of the BFI’s Black Britain on Film project, as is a selection of Ngozi’s short films, including Coffee Coloured Children, The Body Beautiful, Flight of the Swan and White Men are Cracking Up.

The 10th anniversary of her TV drama Shoot the Messenger was marked with a special screening and event on Tuesday, 15 November at the BFI Southbank in London.

Starring David Oyelowo and Nikki Amuka-Bird, when the film aired on BBC in 2006 it was still rare for UK television to showcase films that focused exclusively on black casts. Cast and crew will reunite at the BFI’s event, with a discussion led by Nikki Amuka-Bird (work permitting) and Charles Mnene, producer Anne Pivcevic and vice chair of the Mental Health Taskforce, Jacqui Dyer. The discussion will be chaired by Patrick Vernon.

The full selection can be found here


The BFI’s BLACK STAR season, which runs until the end of the year, is the UK’s biggest season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors. The season’s aim is to bring the work of black actors to a new generation of UK audiences, helping to reposition them and their performances in our collective memory.

Framed Film Festival allows kids to get creative

A Framed Film Festival workshop
The Framed Film Festival, an annual showcase of the best new children's films - returns to the Barbican in London this month (19-20 November) with stories of adventure, animals and magic.

The programme includes: a preview of the new Ellie Fanning-voiced feature Ballerina; the London premiere of a tale of sibling rivalry, Molly Monster; plus an international festival shorts programme.

There will also be free activities and workshops in the foyer all day. These events include:
  • Create Your Own GIF - Professional animators and workshop leaders Quirky Pictures will be on hand to help children create a moving portrait.
  • Magic Lantern Show & Workshop - Artists Nicole Mollett and Frog Morris of Art of the Magic Lantern use old-fashioned pre-cinema projectors to conjure up fantastic visions and tell tall tales.
  • Drop in Making & Games Corner - Tea Dance for Little People invites young children and their families to engage with each other and the space around them in exciting and fun ways.