16 Jan 2021
Crip Camp, the Netflix documentary about a unique summer camp for disabled kids and its role propelling the disability rights movement, won Best Feature at the International Documentary Association’s IDA Awards, in something of an upset.
The film directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht (the latter attended the titular camp as a teen) also won the ABC News VideoSource Award, recognizing its skillful use of archival video from the 1970s to 1990s.
“I want to thank everybody at Camp Jened, the staff, the counselors and the campers,” said an emotional LeBrecht as he, Newnham and producer Sara Bolder accepted the award. “My life set a course when I went there and you all are responsible for this–you are so much a part of this award.”
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Newnham added, “The hippie teens and counselors of Camp Jened could never have imagined the wide-reaching impact that their brief utopian community would come to have on disability civil rights around the world. But they did dare to imagine that a better, more inclusive world was possible. And we believed that an immersive, community-told story, a film of their story, could help to continue their work.”
Newnham thanked, among others, executive producers Barack and Michelle Obama. The former president and first lady’s production company, Higher Ground, produced Crip Camp.
Going into the night, Amazon Studios’ Time was the favorite for Best Feature, having won a slew of pre-Oscar prizes, including the Gotham Award for Best Documentary (in a tie with A Thousand Cuts). But Time, directed by Garrett Bradley, didn’t leave the IDA Awards empty-handed. Bradley was named Best Director and she also earned the previously-announced Emerging Filmmaker Award.
Bradley gave a shout out to the family whose story she tells in the film: Sibil Fox Richardson (known as Fox Rich) and her husband Rob. Time explores Fox Rich’s two-decade long effort to win the release of Rob, who was sentenced to 60 years in prison for armed robbery.
“It has been such a privilege and an honor to work with Fox and Rob and Miss Peggy and the entire Richardson family,” Bradley noted, “in bringing their story of love, which surpasses all time and space, to the world.”
Time may yet rally in time for the Academy Awards. The IDA Awards has proven an uncertain predictor of Oscar success. At the IDA’s last awards show For Sama won the IDA’s Best Feature prize, but American Factory, from the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions, went on to claim the Oscar. In fact, in the last five years only once has the IDA Best Documentary winner gone on to earn the Oscar statuette—2016’s O.J.: Made in America.
In another victory for Netflix, the streamer’s short John Was Trying to Contact Aliens, won the IDA Award for Best Short. Director Matthew Killip accepted for his story of an electronics enthusiast who built a massive radio transmitting operation in his house in the 1970s, hoping to communicate with extraterrestrials.
“Really it’s a story about connection and love,” Killip observed in his acceptance remarks. “I’m so happy it found an audience.”
The Netflix doc Dick Johnson Is Dead, directed by Kirsten Johnson, won two awards on the night, for Best Editing and Best Writing. The Netflix series Last Chance U won Best Episodic Series.
The IDA Award for Best Music Documentary went to Universe, directed by Nicholas Capezzera and Sam Osborn, a film about an unrecorded piece of music by Miles Davis.
American Experience, the long-running PBS historical series, took Best Curated Series over fellow PBS contender American Masters and three other nominees.
Best Multi-Part Documentary went to HBO’s series Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. Among the show’s directors and executive producers is Sam Pollard, who received the IDA’s Career Achievement Award. His documentary MLK/FBI was also nominated for Best Feature.
See the complete list of winners below:
Crip Camp (USA / Netflix. Directors and Producers: Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht. Producer: Sara Bolder)
Garrett Bradley (Time. USA / Amazon Studios, Concordia Studio, The New York Times)
John Was Trying to Contact Aliens (USA / Netflix. Director and Producer: Matthew Killip)
Best Curated Series
American Experience (USA / PBS. Executive Producers: Susan Bellows and Mark Samels)
Best Episodic Series
Last Chance U (USA / Netflix. Director and Executive Producer: Greg Whiteley. Executive Producers: Joe LaBracio, James D. Stern, Lucas Smith, Andrew Fried, Dane Lillegard)
Best Multi-Part Documentary
Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (USA / HBO. Directors and Executive Producers: Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, Joshua Bennett, Jeff Dupre. Executive Producers: John Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorious, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller)
Best Short Form Series
POV Shorts (USA / PBS. Producer: Opal H. Bennett. Executive Producers: Justine Nagan, Chris White)
Best Audio Documentary
Somebody (USA / Topic Studios, The Intercept, the Invisible Institute, and iHeartRadio, in association with Tenderfoot TV. Reporters and Producers: Alison Flowers, Bill Healy and Sarah Geis. Host: Shapearl Wells. Reporters: Sam Stecklow, Annie Nguyen, Kahari Blackburn, Rajiv Sinclair, Henri Adams, Matilda Vojak, Dana Brozost-Kelleher, Frances McDonald, Diana Akmajian, Andrew Fan and Maddie Anderson. Associate Producer: Ellen Glover. Executive Producers: Jamie Kalven, Maria Zuckerman, Christy Gressman, Leital Molad)
Best Music Documentary
Universe (USA. Directors: Sam Osborn and Nicholas Capezzera. Producers: Esther Dere and Leah Natasha Thomas)
David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award
People Like Me (USA / University of California Santa Cruz. Director/Producer: Marrok Sedgwick, Co-Editor: Jackson Patrick-Sternin)
The Earth Is Blue as an Orange (Ukraine, Lithuania. Cinematographer: Viacheslav Tsvietkov)
Dick Johnson Is Dead (USA / Netflix. Editor: Nels Bangerter)
Dick Johnson is Dead (USA / Netflix. Writers: Nels Bangerter and Kirsten Johnson)
Best Music Score
My Octopus Teacher (USA / Netflix. Composer: Kevin Smuts)
ABC News VideoSource Award
Crip Camp (USA / Netflix. Directors/Producers: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht. Producer: Sara Bolder)
Pare Lorentz Award
WINNER My Octopus Teacher (USA / Netflix) Director: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed Producer: Craig Foster
HONORABLE MENTION Crip Camp (USA / Netflix) Directors/Producers: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht Producer: Sara Bolder
Amicus Award Regina K. Scully
Career Achievement Award Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI)
Courage Under Fire Award David France, David Isteev and Olga Baranova (Welcome to Chechnya)
Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award Garrett Bradley (Time)
Pioneer Award Firelight Media
Truth to Power Award Maria Ressa and Rappler (A Thousand Cuts)