Last night, the winners of the 2020 Grierson Awards  were announced with Channel 4’s Jade: The Reality Star Who Change Britain taking a double crown, Mobeen Azhar taking the Best Presenter gong and acclaimed filmmaker Asif Kapadia recognised with the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award.

Hosted by comedian and actor, Sara Pascoe, the 2020 Griersons were presented on YouTube in conjunction with digital broadcast partners, Little Dot Studios and headline sponsors All3Media.

The 14 awards are spread across the UK’s broadcast channels with the BBC and Channel 4 taking four awards each and one apiece for ITV, Netflix and Channel 5 – winning its first ever gong. The remaining three were made up of festival and theatrical screenings.

Chair of The Grierson Trust, Lorraine Heggessey said: “2020 has been a year like no other – from the Black Lives Matter campaign, continued political upheaval in the US and elsewhere and, of course, the Cobid-19 pandemic. This tumult and its energy is reflected in our winning films.

“John Grierson believed documentaries play a crucial role in countering threats to democracy and highlighting issues that matter to society. This is amply demonstrated by the finalists and winners of this year’s awards which shine fresh light on a wide range of issues from dementia and disability rights, through civil war and ethnic cleansing to mental health and the destruction of our natural world. They are powerful, bold stories told with skill and compassion. Congratulations to them all.”

The ceremony can be watched in full at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S570YonuvG4

 

Winners in full:

ENVY Best Single Documentary – Domestic

WINNER:

Suicidal: In Our Own Words

Rachel Harvie, David Dehaney, Emmanuel Ayettey & Iain Pettifer for Proper Content

Channel 5

 

The judges said: “This was a brave film which brought us a new understanding of a topic that is often hidden away. The contributors obviously trusted the filmmaker and opened up in a way that never felt voyeuristic. It definitely stayed with us long        after watching it.”

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

The Family Secret

Anna Hall, Sally Ogden, Luke Rothery & Brian Woods for Candour Productions

Channel 4

OPEN UNIVERSITY Best Single Documentary – International

WINNER:

Crip Camp

Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Sara Bolder, Howard Gertler, Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis for A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation

Netflix

 

The judges said: “Our remarkable winner told a hidden slice of history with warmth, tenderness and humour. It was a joyful watch but with a rawness about a movement which changed society. This was a beautifully crafted film with a story well told.”

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein

Ursula Macfarlane, Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn, Poppy Dixon & Andy R Worboys for Lightbox

BBC Two

REAL STORIES Best Current Affairs Documentary

WINNER:

Undercover: Inside China’s Digital Gulag

Robin Barnwell, Gesbeen Mohammad, Guy Creasey, Simon Russell & David Henshaw for Hardcash Productions

ITV

 

The judges said:”This eye-opening documentary alerted the world to the terrifying control exerted over a persecuted and tortured population. We commend the courage of the undercover reporters who filmed at huge personal risk. This film had everything: immediacy, urgency and dedication to getting an important story out to the world.”

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Undercover with the Clerics

Paddy Wells, Mais Al-Bayaa, Nawal Al Maghafi, Monica Garnsey, Chris Mitchell & Gary Beelders for BBC News Arabic

BBC News Arabic

 

STORM Best Arts or Music Documentary

WINNER:

Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall

Alfred George Bailey, Adam Biskupski, Ian Arber, Tatiana Kennedy, Amelia Davis & Nicolas Sampson a Bailey Kennedy Production for Modern Films

General theatrical release

 

The judges said: “Whilst the work of this artist is familiar, little was known about the individual until this revealing documentary. It’s an illuminating study of a volatile, troubled creative which transported us to the heart of their world and opened up a new vista on their work.”

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Terms and Conditions: A UK Drill Story

Brian Hill, Kandise Abiola, Katie Bailiff, Fraser T Smith, Stuart Briggs &Andre Johnson for Century Films

You Tube Originals

 

CHANNEL 5 Best Historical Documentary

WINNER:

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain – Episode 1

Robert Coldstream, Clare Cameron, Justin Badger, Jane Greaves & Edmund Coulthard for Blast! Films

Channel 4

 

The judges said: “Our film is timely and nostalgic. Focusing on a fascinating character, it is intellectually stimulating and manages to link themes relating to Brexit, the disenfranchisement of the working class, phone hacking and the duty of care scandal in an exciting narrative package.”

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED:

Crip Camp

Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Sara Bolder, Howard Gertler, Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis for A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation

Netflix

 

SARGENT-DISC Best Science Documentary

WINNER:

War in the Blood

Arthur Cary, Morgan Matthews, Ben Brown, Saskia Rusher & Andrew Phillips for Minnow Films

BBC Two

 

The judges said: “The winner is an extraordinary film: captivating from start to finish. It highlighted both the objectivity and humanity of scientists. And the access and relationships of trust developed with contributors made this film a compelling, and sometimes heart-breaking, watch.”

 

DISCOVERY Best Natural History Documentary

WINNER:

The Last Igloo

Christian Collerton, Will Grayburn, Joe Evans, Neil Crombie, Adam Simons & Mick Duffield for Swan Films

BBC Four

 

The judges said: “We were hypnotised by this atmospheric film about a livelihood that feels completely other. To document a way of life that may be lost to future generations in such an original, captivating and immersive way is incredibly important and left us all feeling enriched.”

 

YOUTUBE ORIGINALS Best Entertaining Documentary

WINNER:

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan: Zimbabwe

Romesh Ranganathan, Emily Hudd, Morgan Roberts, Chris Cottam & Andy Linton for Rumpus Media

BBC Two

 

The judges said: “The chemistry between the lead and co-presenter on this show won us over. The winning documentary approached its subject, along with its politics and history, without any preconceptions which made for fascinating and thoroughly entertaining viewing.”

NETFLIX Best Documentary Series

WINNER:

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain

Robert Coldstream, Clare Cameron, Justin Badger, Jane Greaves & Edmund Coulthard for Blast! Films

Channel 4

 

The judges said: “Tonight’s winning series is of epic proportions. It tells an unlikely character’s story with great sophistication, whilst uncovering broader themes of class, race and celebrity. We applaud the storyteller’s fantastic access and their sensitivity whilst challenging the audience to consider their complicity.”

 

CHANNEL 4 Best Constructed Documentary Series

WINNER:

The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes

Benjamin Leigh, Trish Powell, Murray Boland, Martin Oxley, Louise Bartmann & Neil Cornish for CPL Productions & Motion Content Group

Channel 4

 

The judges said: “The winning series had a lightness of touch and a depth of emotion that pulled us in from the start.  It was sometimes painful to watch but there were many moments of pure joy too. We felt that viewers would learn a lot from watching it.”

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Long Lost Family

Sally Benton, Clare Bradbury, Susie Attwood, Rick Barker & Johnny Wagener for Wall to Wall Media

ITV

 

BFI DOC SOCIETY FUND Best Cinema Documentary

WINNER:

For Sama

Waad al Kateab, Ed Watts, Nevine Mabro, Ben de Pear, Siobhan Sinnerton & George Waldrum for Channel 4 News & ITN Productions for Channel 4 & PBS Frontline

General theatrical release

 

The judges said: “The overall winner is a searingly intimate, profound film. Phenomenal journalistic skills were used to take the camera into a community facing impossible odds. Without being didactic it tells a number of truths, which were visceral and hugely moving. The judges, unanimous in their praise, said it was an incredible document of history that will stand the test of time.”

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED:

Honeyland

Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov & Atanas Georgiev

General theatrical release

THE RUMI FOUNDATION Best Documentary Short

WINNER:

Country Girl        

Ellen Evans & Pearl Doughty-White for BFI Doc Society

Open City Docs Film Festival

 

The judges said: “The winner stood out for its compelling storytelling. We were impressed with the film’s intimacy and style which comes from having a strong relationship with the contributor. It was a complex story that shone a light on solace and salvation, juxtaposed against a faceless bureaucracy.”

 

ALL3MEDIA Best Student Documentary

WINNER:

Miss Curvy

Ghada Eldemellawy & Gareth Pugh for NFTS

University/College screening

 

The judges said: “This unconventional, entertaining film was a joy to watch. Its original take felt personal and with access to great characters, it was able to explore dark and light themes in a fresh voice that did not shy away from controversy.”

 

WARNER BROS TELEVISION PRODUCTION UK Best Documentary Presenter

WINNER:

MOBEEN AZHAR for Hometown: A Killing

Forest & 7 Wonder

BBC Three

 

The judges said: “Our winning presenter is the complete package: captivating, inquisitive and brave. With great sensitivity and journalistic nous, they revealed the inner workings of a hidden world. And there were also lovely, touching moments which added to their naturalness and credibility.”

              

BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award

Asif Kapadia

 

Jon Creamer