IDA Documentary Awards Winners Find Parallels Between Work and Current Political Climate

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From left: Paula Vanoppen, Jeffrey Wright, Sareen Hairabedian and Armen Karaoghlanian

While the topics of the nominated films varied widely from civil war in the Balkans to American politics in the 1960s, many saw the main messages of their work reflected in current political times.

The International Documentary Association held its 34th Annual Documentary Awards on Saturday night at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles. The ceremony was hosted by Rikki Lake and presenters included Barry Jenkins, Kathy Bates, and Emily Deschanel.

While the topics of the nominated films varied widely from civil war in the Balkans to American politics in the 1960s, many saw the main messages of their work reflected in current political times.

Dawn Porter, director and producer of the Netflix documentary series Bobby Kennedy for President, told The Hollywood Reporter what the project has to say about America today.

“1968, the year that Kennedy was assassinated, was one of the most tumultuous times in American history," Porter said. "Our collective feeling is if we can get through that, the Vietnam, war, civil rights and riots all over the country, we can survive a difficult administration. We have been here before and we have survived.”

Golden Globe-winning actor Jeffrey Wright, who is a producer on We Are Not Done Yet, a short documentary film that profiles veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as they rebuild their lives and contend with PTSD, told The Hollywood Reporter why this was a story that he felt needed to be told.

“We’re a nation that’s been at war for 17 straight years. I don’t think there are too many people in our country who have actually heard the voices of the men and women who have served in those wars," he said.

The evening’s other big winners included three-time Academy Award winning filmmaker Julia Reichert, who was given the career achievement award, and the Netflix docuseries Wild Wild Country, which won for best limited series.