2014 BRITDOC Impact Award

by Angelica Das

Nowbritdoc in its 4th year, The BRITDOC Impact Award celebrates social impact documentary film through rewards for extraordinary achievement sponsored by PUMA and Netflix. This year’s winners: “American Promise,” “Blackfish,” “Granito,” “The House I Live In” and “No Fire Zone.” 

Following an international call for entries, the editorial team at BRITDOC considered an extensive social impact scheme and created a long-list of projects presented to The Center for Media & Social Impact. The Center selected 15 projects to present to a 16-strong peer review committee, made up of professionals working at the nexus of film and impact. From this considered feedback the five winners were selected.

As part of the Impact Award BRITDOC is releasing comprehensive Impact Reports on the work of each film team and their campaign partners.  These stand alongside short films which give an overview of their campaign achievements.  This work has been supported by Knight Foundation and Compton Foundation and can be found at http://www.britdocimpactaward.org/.


AMERICAN PROMISE, Dir. Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster (@PromiseFilm)

The journey of two African American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.  A vital contribution in bridging the educational achievement gap in America.

“These filmmakers gave 13 years, and their childrens school years to this film.  And it pays off.  American Promise has made an invaluable contribution to closing the racial achievement gap” – Russell Simmons, co-founder Def Jam Records

BLACKFISH, Dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite (@blackfishmovie)

Blackfish is an expose of the controversial captivity of orcas, and its dangers for both humans and whales. From protests to petitions, the film provoked a huge backlash against SeaWorld known as the ‘Blackfish Effect’.

“Seeing the work that Blackfish has done by shining a light on the treatment of orcas in captivity gives me incredible faith for the part that documentaries can play in addressing social and environmental injustice in the future.” – Susan Sarandon, actor and activist

GRANITO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR, Dir. Pamela Yates (@skylightpix)

Telling the extraordinary story of how a film, aiding a new generation of human rights activists, helped tip the scales of justice in Guatemala. In the conviction of a dictator, Granito is a testament to the power of documentary film.

Granito serves as a vital reminder that courageous documentary filmmakers can profoundly impact the cause of justice in the world.  This film helped the Maya people of Guatemala hold the perpetrators of their genocide accountable.  It poignantly portrays their suffering, their resistance and their hope for the future.Amy Goodman, Host & Executive Producer, Democracy Now!

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, Dir. Eugene Jarecki (@drugwarmovie)

Exploring the human rights implications of the War on Drugs – the longest conflict in US history, and the least winnable. Could this be the beginning of the end for the ‘war on drugs’?

“The team continues to seek ways the film can help more fundamentally shift the national conversation away from seeing drug control as a criminal justice issue to seeing it as a matter of public health – Danny Glover, actor and activist

NO FIRE ZONE, Dir. Callum Macrae (@nofirezonemovie)

The shocking proof of secret war crimes committed during the final bloody months of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Holding the Sri Lankan government accountable for human rights violations on an epic scale.

This film is the only film that gives me faith in journalism. It’s not only the most important account of what happened to the Tamils, it’s actually become part of the fabric of their history– M.I.A, musician and artist


The Netflix High 5

Followers of #britdocimpact are invited to participate in deciding which of the five winners receive an additional $5,000 prize.  It will be awarded to the film team that gets the most support tweets in the days following the announcement.  Tweets with #NetflixHi5 and the films twitter handle  will be counted up until Midnight PST on Monday 24th November.

The #NetflixHi5 will be announced on on Tuesday 25th November.

The Outstanding Partner Award

The Outstanding Parnter Award is a chance to honour exceptional individuals and organisations who work tirelessly alongside independent filmmakers to make positive change in society.

Congratulations go to United Way, nominated by the team behind American Promise, who have been chosen as the winners of this year’s Outstanding Partner Prize.

United Way is a leadership and support organisation which is working in nearly 1,800 communities across 41 countries and territories to create community solutions that improve life for everyone. Many of United Way’s local branches have incorporated the American Promiseresources into their work bringing partners together on a national and local level.  http://www.unitedway.org


Kudos for Waxman, ITVS and Indies