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LOS ANGELES, CA – Winners in the International Documentary Association’s 2015 IDA Documentary Awards were announced during tonight’s program at the Paramount Theatre, giving Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE LOOK OF SILENCE top honors with the Best Feature Award. This critically acclaimed, powerful companion piece to the Oscar®-nominated The Act of Killing, follows a family of survivors of the Indonesian genocide who discover how their son was murdered and the identities of the killers.

Also announced in the ceremony was the Best Short Award, which honored LAST DAY OF FREEDOM, directed by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman. The film is an animated account of Bill Babbitt’s decision to support and help his brother in the face of war, crime and capital execution.

Grammy-nominated comedian Tig Notaro hosted the ceremony, which gathered the documentary community to honor the best nonfiction films and programming of 2015.

IDA’s Career Achievement Award was presented to Gordon Quinn, Founder and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films. He has produced, directed and/or been cinematographer on over 55 films across five decades. A longtime activist for public and community media, Quinn was integral to the creation of ITVS, public access television in Chicago; in developing the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practice in Fair Use; and in forming the Indie Caucus to support diverse independent voices on Public Television. Over 50 years at Kartemquin, Quinn has inspired and guided an immeasurable number of media makers whose films have left a lasting impact on millions of viewers. Chaz Ebert, whose husband Roger Ebert was the subject of Quinn’s film Life Itself, and Haskell Wexler, influential cinematographer, producer and director, presented Quinn with the award.

Actor and comedian Bob Odenkirk awarded the organization’s Pioneer Award to Ted Sarandos, the Chief Content Officer at Netflix, in recognition of the company’s game-changing and unwavering support of creating and showcasing nonfiction programming. The Pioneer Award is presented by the IDA to acknowledge extraordinary contributions to advancing the nonfiction form and providing exceptional vision and leadership to the documentary community.

Actor, director and political activist Danny Glover presented Tony Tabatznik and the Bertha Foundation ( with the IDA’s Amicus Award in recognition of their work supporting the essential needs of the non-fiction media landscape. The Bertha Foundation’s Media Program specifically aims to nurture global talent, expose relevant stories and connect them to audiences for powerful, positive social impact. Since its inception the foundation has supported over 200 films, including the Oscar®-winning film Citizenfour (2014) and the Oscar®-nominated films Virunga (2014), Dirty Wars (2013) and The Square (2013).

Academy Award®-winning director Kathryn Bigelow awarded Matthew Heineman the IDA’s Courage Under Fire Award, in recognition of conspicuous bravery in the pursuit of truth. This award is presented to documentary filmmakers by their peers for putting freedom of speech – represented in the crafts of documentary filmmaking and journalism – above all else, even their own personal safety. Heineman’s gripping film, CARTEL LAND, documents two modern-day vigilante movements – Dr. Joe Mireles’s citizen-led uprising against a violent drug cartel wreaking havoc in Mexico and the Arizona Border Recon led by Tim “Nailer” Foley, which is working to prevent Mexico’s drug wars from crossing into the United States.

The Pare Lorentz Award recognizes films that demonstrate exemplary filmmaking while focusing on environmental and social issues. Actress and environmental activist Kristin Davis presented this year’s Pare Lorentz Award to the film HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD, directed by Jerry Rothwell, the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement.

The IDA Creative Recognition Awards honor excellence in cinematography, composing, editing and writing in documentary feature films. The recipients of these awards represent the highest achievements in their respective crafts, and highlight the importance of their work in compelling documentary storytelling. At the IDA Documentary Awards ceremony, THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER (cinematography by Artem Ryzhykov) was recognized with the award for Best Cinematography; KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK (edited by Joe Beshenkovsky and Brett Morgen) received the Best Editing award; BEST OF ENEMIES (original score by Jonathan Kirkscey) was presented with the Best Music award, and LISTEN TO ME MARLON (written by Stevan Riley, co-writer Peter Ettedgui) received the Best Writing award.

BEST OF ENEMIES picked up the ABC News VideoSource Award; HBO’s THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST received the Best Limited Series Award;  and Netflix’s CHEF’S TABLE took home the Best Episodic Series Award.

The 31st Annual IDA Documentary Awards took place on Saturday, December 5th at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles, CA.

A complete list of winners follows:


Career Achievement Award:

Gordon Quinn


Pioneer Award:

Ted Sarandos


Amicus Award:

Tony Tabatznik and the Bertha Foundation


Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award sponsored by the Archibald Family Foundation:

Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe


Courage Under Fire Award:

Matthew Heineman


Best Feature Award:

The Look of Silence

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen

Drafthouse Films and Participant Media


Best Short Award:

Last Day of Freedom

Directors: Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman


Pare Lorentz Award:

How to Change the World

Director: Jerry Rothwell


Creative Recognition Award Winners

Best Cinematography:

The Russian Woodpecker

Cinematography by: Artem Ryzhykov

Best Editing:

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Edited by: Joe Beshenkovsky and Brett Morgen

Best Writing:

Listen to Me Marlon

Written by: Stevan Riley
Co-Writer: Peter Ettedgui

Best Music:

Best of Enemies

Original Score by: Jonathan Kirkscey

ABC News VideoSource Award:

Best of Enemies

Directors: Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville

Magnolia Pictures

Best Curated Series Award:

Independent Lens

Executive Producers: Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen



Executive Producers: Simon Kilmurry and Chris White

Best Limited Series Award:

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

Executive Producer: Jason Blum

Co-Executive Producer: Zac Stuart-Pontier

Produced by: Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling


Best Episodic Series Award:

Chef’s Table

Executive Producers: David Gelb and Andrew Fried


Best Short Form Series Award:

Do Not Track

Executive Producer: Hugues Sweeney

National Film Board of Canada, Upian, Arte, and BR

David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award:

The Archipelago

Director: Benjamin Huguet

The National Film and Television School

Michael Sandoval

Michael created MUSE/MUSE TV after a career in professional sports and journalism. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Don Bosco Technical Institute in which he studied Electronics and Computer Science and California State University, Fullerton in which he graduated with a degree from the College of Communication in Journalism. He is a big Foo Fighters fan, loves Star Wars and loves photography.