The Critics Choice Association (CCA) held a gala event Sunday night at BRIC in Brooklyn, NY to recognize the year’s finest achievements in documentary film. Hosted by comedian/actor/producer Roy Wood Jr, the star-studded event featured presenters and attendees that included Amir Arison (“The Blacklist”), Selma Blair (“Introducing, Selma Blair”), Wyatt Cenac, Dana Delany (“The American Guest”), Jessica Hecht (“The Sinner”), Dr. Vernard Hodges and Dr. Terrence Ferguson (“Critter Fixers: Country Vets”), Barbara Kopple, Sheila Nevins, Piper Perabo (“The Big Leap”), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”), and Mariana van Zeller (“Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller”), among others.

The Questlove-directed documentary “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” which tied with “Ascension” for the most nominations with six each, was the night’s big winner topping every category in which it was nominated including the evening’s most prestigious award Best Documentary Feature.

“Soul” examines the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival attended by thousands of people over a six-week period to celebrate Black history, culture, music, and fashion. The concerts drew little attention from the media despite the large attendance and performers that included Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, The Staple Singers, Blinky Williams, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Chambers Brothers.

There was a tie in the Best Director category as “Summer of Soul” director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson tied with Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin for “The Rescue”, which chronicled the 2018 daring rescue of 12 boys and their coach trapped inside a flooded Thailand cave. “The Rescue” also took home the Best Cinematography and Best Score awards.

“We are proud to be able to recognize such outstanding work at this year’s awards gala, in our return to a live event,” said Christopher Campbell, President of the Critics Choice Association Documentary Branch. “It was a wonderful night of showcasing and honoring the best of the best in documentary storytelling, with a mix of fresh faces and veteran talents lauded by our members. We are excited for our choices to inform the choices of film fans everywhere, as the CCDAs continue to support nonfiction filmmaking and influence the growing audience for documentaries.”

The evening also featured the presentation of The D A Pennebaker Award, formerly known as the Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the American documentary filmmaker, a pioneer of direct cinema. This year’s recipient was legendary documentarian R.J. Cutler who was presented with the award by Chris Hegedus, Pennebaker’s long-time collaborator and widow.

Sponsors of Critics Choice Documentary Awards include the event’s first Presenting Sponsor, National Geographic Documentary Films, while HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and Showtime Documentary Films were listed as Catalyst Sponsors.

Winners of the Sixth Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

BEST DIRECTOR (TIE)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

BEST DIRECTOR (TIE)
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin – “The Rescue”

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
David Katznelson, Ian Seabrook and Picha Srisansanee – “The Rescue”

BEST EDITING
Joshua L. Pearson – “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

BEST SCORE
Daniel Pemberton – “The Rescue”

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

BEST HISTORICAL OR BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY
“Val”

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY
“The Crime of the Century”

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY
“Becoming Cousteau”

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY
“The Alpinist”

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
“The Queen of Basketball”

BEST NARRATION
“Val”

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Joe Friar

Member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Latino Entertainment Journalists Association (LEJA), the Houston Film Critics Society, and a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

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