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‘For Sama’ Is Named Top Doc at IDA Documentary Awards

Other winners include ”American Factory,“ ”Honeyland,“ ”Leaving Neverland“ and ”Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé“


“For Sama,” Waad al-Kateab’s wrenching story of raising a young daughter in war-torn Syria, has been named the best nonfiction film of 2019 at the International Documentary Association’s 35th annual IDA Documentary Awards, which were handed out on Saturday night on the Paramount Pictures lot in Los Angeles.

Al-Kateab, who directed “For Sama” with Edward Watts, also received the IDA Awards Courage Under Fire Award at the ceremony. Last week, the film also won the top award at the British Independent Film Awards, a rarity for a documentary.

Steven Bognar and Julie Reichert received the Best Director Award, the first time the IDA has handed out that particular prize, for their look at the culture clash when a Chinese company took over an American auto glass factory in Ohio in “American Factory.”

Two films about notable musicians also won awards. “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé,” which chronicled the star’s 2018 Coachella performance and was directed by Beyoncé and Ed Burke, won in the Best Music Documentary category, while Dan Reed’s explosive two-part Michael Jackson documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” won the Best Multi-Part Documentary award.

Carol Dysinger’s “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” won the award for best short documentary.

“Dokumania” was named the best curated series, “Abstract: The Art of Design” the best episodic series, and “A Moment in Mexico” the best short-form series.

Over the last 20 years, the IDA Awards winner has gone on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature 13 times. The same film has won both awards five times in that stretch.

Here is the full list of IDA Awards winners:

Best Feature: “For Sama,” Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Best Director: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, “American Factory”
Best Short: “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl),” Carol Dysinger, Elena Andreicheva
Best Curated Series: “Dokumania,”Anders Bruus
Best Episodic Series: “Abstract: The Art of Design,” Scott Dadich, Morgan Neville, Dave O’Connor, Justin Wilkes and Jon Kamen
Best Multi-Part Documentary: “Leaving Neverland,” Dan Reed, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller
Best Short Form Series: “A Moment in Mexico — The New York Times Op-Docs,” Kathleen Lingo, Lindsay Crouse
Best Audio Documentary: “A Sense of Quietness,” Eleanor McDowall, Alan Hall and Rachel Hooper
Best Music Documentary: “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé,” Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Ed Burke, Steve Pamon and Erinn Williams
David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award: “Brewed in Palestine,” Emma Schwartz
Best Cinematography: Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma, “Honeyland”
Best Editing: Luke Lorentzen, Paloma López Carrillo, “Midnight Family”
Best Music Score: Hans Appelqvist, “The Raft”
Best Writing: Alisar Hasan and Feras Fayyad, “The Cave”
Pare Lorentz Award: “Honeyland,” Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov, Atanas Georgiev
Honorable Mention: “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, Nadia Tavazzani
ABCNEWS VideoSource Award: “Mike Wallace Is Here,” Avi Belkin, Rafael Marmor, John Battsek, Peggy Drexler and Christopher Leggett

Honorary Awards:
Amicus Award: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Career Achievement Award: Freida Lee Mock
Courage Under Fire Award: Waad al-Kateab, “For Sama”
Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award: Rachel Lears
Pioneer Award: Cinereach
Truth to Power Award: Leah Remini