It’s been a banner year for MFA Social Documentary Film and BFA Illustration—and 2021 has barely started. Following a successful run at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where several films involving members of each department premiered, many of these same community members have been showered with accolades and rewards.
MFA Social Documentary Film (SocDoc), had an outstanding showing, earning two major awards at Sundance. The documentary Users, directed by Natalia Almada and co-produced by alumnus Daniela Alatorre (MFA 2015 Social Documentary), won the coveted Directing Award for U.S. Documentary. Meanwhile, the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Vision went to the film One for the Road, co-directed and co-written by alumnus Nottapon Boonprakob (MFA 2017 Social Documentary). Boonprakob also produced the film along with the legendary filmmaker Wong Kar Wai.
BFA Illustration had a great showing, too. Dash Shaw (BFA 2005 Illustration) won Sundance's NEXT Innovator Award for his imaginative animated feature film Cryptozoo, which was met with rave reviews and then was soon acquired by Magnolia Pictures for release later this year.
Meet Dash Shaw, writer and director of Cryptozoo, which premiered in the NEXT section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Meanwhile, in the same week, the NAACP Image Award nominations were announced and several SocDoc members received some terrific acknowledgments.
PBS’ In The Making, directed by SocDoc alumni and faculty members Erik Spink (MFA 2013 Social Documentary Film) & Amitabh Joshi (MFA 2013 Social Documentary Film), was given an NAACP Image Award nomination in the Outstanding Short Form Series—Reality/Nonfiction category.
HBO’s We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical, directed by Amy Schatz and executive produced by faculty member Julie Anderson, received an Outstanding Children’s Program nomination.
Between 1979 to 1981, at least 30 African-American children and young adults disappeared or were murdered in Atlanta. Although Wayne Williams was prosecuted for two of the crimes, the rest of the cases were ultimately closed. The docuseries hears from the victims’ families and examines the original trial materials and court documents, raising new questions for further investigation.
Finally, SocDoc’s Sam Pollard and department chair Maro Chermayeff were nominated for co-directing HBO’s critically-acclaimed Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children documentary series. That series is already well-acclaimed, having received various honors through the International Documentary Association and The African America Film Critics Association (Best Documentary Series), The Independent Spirit Awards nominations (Best Documentary Series) and the Cinema Eye Honors (Best Documentary Series).
Congrats to all the winners and nominees! Tune in Saturday, March 27 at 8pm ET on BET to see who the NAACP Image Award winners are and stay tuned for word of release dates from the Sundance winners when they are announced.
In the Making features eight cinematic and character-driven shorts by BIPOC filmmakers, exploring the creative process of eight emerging icons.
Every year in Oakland, CA, hundreds of students compete in the Martin Luther King Oratorical Festival, performing a mix of published and original poetry and speeches. This documentary chronicles the months leading up to the 40th annual festival, as schools across the city send their top-placing students to compete. Directed by Emmy® winner Amy Schatz and executive produced by Mahershala Ali.