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DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, has tapped filmmaker Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) to receive its inaugural Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence.
Presented at DOC NYC’s Visionaries Tribute on Nov. 14, the new award honors the legacy of Robert Drew, who died this past July. Drew, a pioneer of the documentary style that came to be known as American cinema vérité, founded the production company Drew Associates in 1960. The late Anne Drew joined the company four years later, and the two went on to marry and become filmmaking partners. The award, which includes a $5,000 prize, celebrates the work of a mid-career documentary maker upholding the traditions of observational cinema.
“My filmmaking is built upon the groundbreaking legacy and artistry of Robert Drew,” Poitras said. “What he pioneered in the ’60s with films like Primary and Crisis, where he documented real-world events unfolding in real time in front of his camera, is the foundation of all of my work. Drew understood that human drama exists in everyday life — from the simplest acts of daily life, to life-threatening situations. I am honored to receive this award and to continue the tradition of nonfiction filmmaking that he founded.”
Poitras’ documentary Citizenfour tackles Edward Snowden‘s revelations of widespread surveillance by the U.S. government. The Radius film is currently in theaters from and has garnered rave reviews. Her previous films include The Oath (2010) and My Country, My Country (2006).
Jill Drew, the general manager of Drew Associates and daughter-in-law of Robert Drew, selected the recipient in conjunction with the DOC NYC programming team led by artistic director Thom Powers. She said, “Citizenfour is cinema vérité at its best. Poitras’ camera is up close with a compelling character at a significant turning point of great consequence. I know Bob and Anne would applaud this powerful film.”
The Visionaries Tribute ceremony also will include Lifetime Achievement Awards presented to Albert Maysles, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus; and the new Leading Light Award presented to Dan Cogan of Impact Partners.
DOC NYC also announced that Tabitha Jackson, director of the documentary program at the Sundance Institute, will present the festival’s keynote address Nov. 17 at IFC Center as part of the festival’s Doc-A-Thon series of panels and master classes.
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