'MLK/FBI' Director Sam Pollard Among Honorees Tapped for 2020 International Documentary Awards

Sam Pollard
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Filmmaker Garrett Bradley, producer Regina Scully, Firelight Media, David France and his 'Welcome to Chechnya' team, and journalist Maria Ressa also will be feted at the January ceremony.

The International Documentary Association on Tuesday unveiled the recipients of its 2020 honorary awards.

Sam Pollard, the Oscar-nominated director-producer whose credits include Four Little Girls and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, has been tapped for the career achievement award. His most recent film, MLK/FBI, premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.

Pollard also is a film and TV editor who worked with Spike Lee on several movies, including Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever and Bamboozled. The duo also co-produced a number of documentary productions, including the Oscar-nominated Four Little Girls and the Emmy-winning When the Levees Broke.

His other directing-producing credits include Slavery by Another Name, August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, Two Trains Runnin' and I've Gotta Be Me. On the TV side, he recently co-directed Discovery Channel's Why We Hate and HBO's Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children.

Meanwhile, several other honorees will be feted at the 36th annual IDA Documentary Awards, which will be presented in a digital ceremony in January.

Filmmaker Garrett Bradley (Time) will be honored with the the Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award, which is given annually to a filmmaker "who by virtue of his or her early work shows extraordinary promise in exploring the possibilities of the nonfiction art form."

Producer Regina Scully will accept the Amicus Award, which "honors individuals or organizations in recognition of their work supporting the essential needs of the nonfiction media landscape." Regina Scully is the founder and CEO of Artemis Rising, an organization dedicated to transforming culture through media, arts and education. Her credits include Won't You Be My Neighbor, The Invisible War and After Tiller.

Firelight Media, which produces documentary films, supports emerging filmmakers of color and cultivates audiences for their work, will receive the Pioneer Award. That honor "acknowledges those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to advancing the nonfiction form and providing exceptional vision and leadership to the documentary community." Firelight films include The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Freedom Riders.

The Courage Under Fire Award will be given to Welcome to Chechnya filmmaker David France and his team as well as the activists featured in the film: David Isteev, crisis response coordinator at the Russian LGBT Network, and Olga Baranova, director of the Moscow Community Center for LGBT+ Initiatives, and all those who work with them. They were chosen "for their incredible bravery in telling the story of LGBT+ activists."

Meanwhile, the Truth to Power Award, launched last year, "recognizes an individual or institution that has shown conspicuous fortitude, tenacity and resoluteness in holding those in power to account." Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa co-founded the Philippines-based online news network Rappler, which "has relentlessly held the powerful to account despite unyielding pressure and threats of imprisonment. As depicted in Ramona S. Diaz's A Thousand Cuts, Ressa and the Rappler’s journalists work illustrates the fundamental importance of a free press," the IDA said in making its announcement.

IDA executive director Simon Kilmurry said of the honorees: "If we have learned anything from this tumultuous year it is the fundamental and critical importance of speaking the truth. Without that, democracies are undermined, the corrupt thrive and the marginalized are crushed. All of this year’s honorees are dedicated to speaking the truth and nurturing and supporting the brave filmmakers and activists who continue to shine a light into the darkest corners. We thank them for their work."

Also at January's ceremony, winners will be presented in competitive categories including best feature, best short, best curated series, best episodic series, best multi-part documentary, best short form series, best audio documentary, best music documentary, best director, best cinematography, best editing, best writing and best music score along with the David L. Wolper student documentary award, the ABC News VideoSource Award and the Pare Lorentz Award.

The shortlists for best feature and best short categories were released in late October. The nominees for all categories will be revealed on Nov. 24.