IDA Awards Honor Les Blank, ‘How to Die in Oregon’

International Documentary Association nominations leave out many of the year's best-known docs

Veteran nonfiction filmmaker Les Blank will receive the Career Achievement Award at the International Documentary Association's 2011 IDA Documentary Awards, the IDA announced on Thursday as it revealed the nominations for its 27th annual awards.

How to Die in OregonThe five films competing for the top theatrical prize, Best Feature, are "Better This World," "How to Die in Oregon," "Nostalgia for the Light," "The Redemption of General Butt Naked" and "The Tiniest Place" ("El Lugar Mas Pequeno").

The list did not include such high-touted 2011 docs as "The Interrupters," "Project Nim," "Senna," "Hot Coffee," "Tabloid," "Into the Abyss" or "Pina." The IDA, though, does not announce the list of documentaries that qualified for their awards, so it is not certain if those films were in the running.

The only overlap between the IDA's five Best Feature nominees and the six films nominated on Wednesday for the top prize at the Cinema Eye Honors is Chilean director Patrizio Guzman's "Nostalgia for the Light."

The only two films to receive more than one nomination were "How to Die in Oregon" and "The Tiniest Place," both of which were nominated both for Best Feature and for the IDA Humanitas Award.

In the IDA's television categories, nominees included the series "30 for 30," "POV" and "Vanguard." Spike Lee's HBO series "If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise" received a nomination, as did "Michael Feinstein's American Songbook" and "The National Parks Project."

Danfung Dennis, a combat photographer whose feature debut was the Afghanistan-set film "Hell and Back Again," was awarded the 2011 Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award, which goes to a filmmaker at the beginning of his or her career.

Because of different rules for qualifying, the IDA Awards have some overlap with past Oscar nominations. Two of the nominees in the Best Short category, "Poster Girl" and "The Warriors of Qiugang," received Oscar nominations for Best Documentary Short last year, while "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers," which received an Oscar nod two years ago, was nominated by the IDA for the ABC Videosource Award, which honors the use of news footage in documentary filmmaking.

The IDA Awards will take place on Friday, December 2 at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Director Werner Herzog, the subject of Les Blank's film "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe," will present the award to Blank.

The nominees:

BEST FEATURE
"Better This World"
"How to Die in Oregon"
"Nostalgia for the Light"
"The Redemption of General Butt Naked"
"The Tiniest Place" ("El Lugar Mas Pequeno")

BEST SHORT
"Broken Doors"
"Maya Deren's Sink"
"Minka"
"Poster Girl"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

BEST LIMITED SERIES
"Boomtown"
"If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise"
"Michael Feinstein's American Songbook"
"The National Parks Project"
"On Series"

BEST CONTINUING SERIES
"30 for 30"
"American Experience"
"The Passionate Eye"
"POV"
"Vanguard"

DAVID L. WOLPER STUDENT DOCUMENTARY AWARD
"Guanape Sur"
"Heart-Quake"
"River of Victory"
"Smoke Songs"
"Transit"

IDA HUMANITAS AWARD
"The Carrier"
"How to Die in Oregon"
"The Learning"
"Position Among the Stars"
"The Tiniest Place"

ABCNEWS VIDEOSOURCE AWARD
"The Green Wave"
"Michael Feinstein's American SongbookL Episode 2, Best Band in the Land"
"The Pruitt-Igoe Myth"
"POV — The Most Dangerous Man in America: Danniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers"
"Reagan"

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Les Blank

JACQUELINE DONNET EMERGING DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AWARD
Danfung Dennis