Bonfire Night saw the bright lights of the Documentary world come together at London’s Southbank for the 2018 Grierson Awards — and we’re happy to report that several Directors UK picked up awards, with two member-directed films winning twice.
Member Lucy Cohen triumphed in the Best Single Documentary – Domestic category with Kingdom of Us, a film described as “a spellbinding piece the likes of which we had never seen before” by Jury Chair Rowan Deacon. Meanwhile, member Gethin Aldous and co-director Jairus McLeary won in the Best Single Documentary – International category for The Work. Ben Thomas, Jury Chair, described The Work as “a simply extraordinary film. Powerful, moving and thought-provoking from the start, it deserves praise for its many memorable scenes and the extraordinary level of intimacy and access gained by the film-makers”. The film also took home the award for Best Cinema Documentary.
Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation – The Loss of Joy won in the Best Historical Documentary category. Directed by Directors UK member James Rogan, the film was described as “confident and bold in its storytelling, gripping and powerfully emotional in its delivery” by Jury Chair Emma Hindley, who also had warm words for the highly commended A House Through Time - Episode 2 directed by member Stuart Elliott: “It brought real emotion and engagement to the history of some unsung, yet extraordinary people’s lives in a house in Liverpool.”
Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation also won in The Best Documentary Series category, with Jury Chair Tom McDonald calling it “a remarkable series - beautifully crafted, with extraordinary use of interview, archive and a unique visual approach. It is not simply a re-telling of a story and its repercussions but is a series about Britain, who we were as a nation and what we’ve become.”
Teresa Griffiths, a member of Directors UK, won the award for Best Arts or Music Documentary with Leonora Carrington - The Lost Surrealist. Chair of the Jury James Quinn said: “We were unanimous in our praise for the winner of this category. The film’s creative approach gave it the edge over other entries, connecting the subject’s biography and inner life to the subject’s art in a surefooted way. We also admired the film for telling a new story about a neglected artist.”
Meanwhile, The Fight for Mosul, directed by members Olivier Sarbil and James Jones was highly commended in the Best Current Affair Documentary Category, with Jury Chair David Moulton adding “We want to single out Olivier Sarbil’s The Fight for Mosul as Highly Commended specifically for his courageous film-making.”
In the Best Constructed Documentary Series, member Benjamin Leigh won for Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. Catey Sexton, Chair of the Jury, said: “Our winner stood out for its true sense of purpose - a serious issue underpins this heart-warming, moving and insightful series. We were unanimous this should be recognised for tackling such an important issue in such a joyous and affecting way.”
In the Best Science Documentary category, Directors UK member Charlie Russell picked up the award for Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me. Jury Chair Jane Aldous noted that it “stood apart as a joyous celebration of individuality in a rich film that gave real insight and exploration of the science with true capacity to shift perceptions”. She also praised Attenborough’s Wonder of Eggs, which was highly commended and directed by members Mike Birkhead and Beth Jones: “It is a beautiful film, full of good science that revealed the extraordinary in the ordinary.”
Mike and Beth also went on to scoop the award for Best Natural History Documentary with H is for Hawk: A New Chapter. Liesel Evans, Jury Chair, said: “Our winning film was an original approach to a compelling love story. The level of craft on the film was exceptional, and it was a classic piece of documentary film-making.” The production team for Blue Planet II, which featured Directors UK members, were highly commended, with Evans describing it as “A massive achievement with an incredible array of mind blowing cinematography and previously unseen stories of our oceans, with Attenborough as the magic glue between them all.”
The Best Entertaining Documentary saw Celebrity Hunted, directed by a Production Team involving Directors UK members, emerge triumphant. David Dehaney, Jury Chair, said: “The winning film paired a good cause, joyous characters and a solid format to create a film that was tense and surprisingly gripping. Not a millisecond was wasted as every bit of entertainment was squeezed out in an expert example of high quality filmmaking.”
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and nominees, which include many Directors UK members. Monday’s awards give an idea of the breadth and depth of talent in factual directing, and within our membership. You can find a full list of the winners and highly commended films here.