IDA Awards: 'Knock Down the House' Director Among Four Honorees Announced Early

Rachel Lears - Getty - H 2019
Roger Kisby/Getty Images for Netflix

The International Documentary Association won't announce the shortlists for its best feature and best short IDA Awards until Thursday, but four winners of other IDA honors were announced by the organization Monday morning — one of which affects a top doc Oscar contender.

Rachel Lears, the helmer of Netflix's Knock Down the House, has been tapped for the Emerging Doc Filmmaker Award. That doc, which chronicles the 2016 congressional campaigns of four female long-shot candidates — one of them being Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez — is among 2019's most acclaimed.

That honor will be presented at the 35th annual IDA Awards, which will be held at Paramount Pictures on Dec. 7, along with the Career Achievement Award for Oscar-winning documentarian Freida Lee Mock (1994's Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision); the Amicus Award for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which provides pro bono legal representation and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists; and the Pioneer Award for Cinereach, a film foundation and production company.

"We are so excited to be honoring such talented filmmakers and organizations that really make a difference in the world," Simon Kilmurry, the IDA's executive director, said in a statement. "Freida Lee Mock’s Career Achievement Award is overdue. Her films have tackled a wide range of topics with an insightful artistic vision, and her unparalleled body of work continues to inspire and impact the world. In her film Knock Down the House, Emerging Filmmaker Award recipient Rachel Lears brings us a powerful story of what it can mean when ordinary citizens decide to get involved in the political process and shows the change they can make."

For her part, Mock said, "I'm delighted and honored as a documentary filmmaker to be recognized by the world's preeminent media organization devoted to the documentary arts and craft." And Lears remarked, "I am truly humbled and honored to be this year's recipient of the Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award, given the IDA's long history as a pillar in the field. As I continue to try to tell stories with human depth, political and cultural nuance, and audiovisual grace, I'm thrilled to have the IDA's vote of confidence in my ongoing commitment to the art form of independent documentary."

As for the other honorees, Kilmurry commented, "Amicus Award honoree The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has fought for and defended the rights of countless journalists and filmmakers, and has been a key partner for IDA-funded filmmakers. And Cinereach, our Pioneer Award honoree, has truly been a pioneer through their consistent and courageous support of documentary artists and new voices in film."

RCFP executive director Bruce Brown stated, "We are honored to receive this year's Amicus Award. Through our partnership with IDA, we have been able to provide critical legal support to documentary filmmakers who are bringing some of today's most important stories to light." And Cinereach executive director Philipp Engelhorn commented, "We are humbled by this recognition coming from the International Documentary Association, an organization that has played a pivotal role in addressing what is needed for nonfiction film to thrive. Cinereach believes that nonfiction films are essential to reflect on our shared humanity and find beauty in our differences. For us, this award is a celebration of the bold artists we have proudly been able to support, who have dedicated themselves to nonfiction film's ability to be as artful as it is honest."