Critics’ Choice Awards Launch New Documentary Awards

Nov. 3 show will include film, television, reality-TV and investigative reporting categories

The Critics’ Choice Awards will split off its documentary film and non-fiction television awards into a separate awards show, the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association announced on Monday.

The inaugural show will take place on Thursday, Nov. 3 at BRIC in Brooklyn, New York.

Previously, the BFCA gave out a single award for documentary film, while the BTJA gave out awards in reality-television categories but did not honor TV documentaries.

The new show will give out awards in more than a dozen non-fiction categories, including Best Documentary Feature Film (Theatrical Premiere), Best Documentary Feature (Television Premiere), Best First Documentary Feature, Best Music Documentary, Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary and Best Investigative Journalist.

The non-fiction categories will be removed from the Critics’ Choice Awards, which take place in January and combine film and television categories.

“There is so much great work being done in these fields, but it is often difficult to introduce them to audiences,” said BFCA and BTJA president Joey Berlin in a statement announcing the new awards. “We believe the time has come to focus attention on these important, informative and entertaining productions, at an event dedicated solely to celebrating the positive effects these works have towards educating, inspiring and triggering social change amongst audiences.”

Qualified members of the BFCA and BTJA will vote for the new awards. The eligibility period is the calendar year, but the sister organizations have yet to establish a protocol for determining how films qualify in the film or television categories.

The line between film and TV is often blurred in non-fiction filmmaking, where it’s common for a doc to be produced or financed by a television entity but also have a theatrical run. This year, the documentaries “Cartel Land,” “Winter on Fire” and “What Happened Miss Simone?” received Oscar and Emmy nominations, while some of the highest-profile TV docs of the year, including “O.J.: Made in America” and Ken Burns’ upcoming “Defying the Nazis,” had or will have quiet Oscar-qualifying runs before their splashier television premieres.

Recent film documentaries that won the Critics’ Choice Award (and its predecessor, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards) include Oscar winners “Amy,” “20 Feet From Stardom,” “Searching for Sugar Man” and “The Cove,” as well as “Waiting for Superman,” “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” and “Life Itself.”

Categories handed out at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, according to the release, will include:

- Best Documentary Feature Film (Theatrical Premiere)
– Best Documentary Feature (Television Premiere)
– Best Director of a Documentary
– Best First Documentary Feature
– Best Music Documentary
– Best Sports Documentary
– Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary
– Best Limited Documentary Series for Television
– Best Ongoing Documentary Series for Television
– Best Unstructured Reality Series
– Best Song in a Documentary
– Most Innovative Documentary
– Best Investigative Journalist