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BBC documentaries dominate Griersons

The BBC could be called the big winner of the Grierson Awards 2012 after documentaries first shown by the broadcaster took home five of the ten possible awards at the ceremony last night.

The crème de la crème of documentary makers were gathered in central London last  night to find out which films would win the most prestigious prize in documentary filmmaking.

Doc champions DocHouse and The Bertha Foundation were attending as sponsor of the Best Cinema Documentary and the award went to Bobby Fischer Against the World by Liz Garbus for Moxie Firecracker Films.

Other winners were more controversial. Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die, which opened up a wide debate about the right to assisted suicide when it was first aired by the BBC in the UK, took home the award for Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme.

The BBC could be called successful after films it first broadcasted took home half of the awards.

BBC4 film After Life: The Strange Science of Decay won the prize for Best Science Documentary and The Love of Books: A Sarajevo Story, also by BBC4 got awarded with Best  Historical Documentary.

The Grierson Trust chairman Dawn Airey said: “The past few months have demonstrated more than ever the vital role factual film-makers continue to play in not only illuminating the world around us but also in exposing wrong doing and injustice.”

Best Arts Documentary was awarded to BBC2’s Culture Show: Jeremy Deller – Middle Class Hero and Best Documentary Series was given to BBC2 series, Protecting Our Children. C4 series Educating Essex however was also commended.

Another controversial documentary on the list was Gypsy Blood, which was first shown on Channel 4 and received over a 1000 complaints when it first aired. Gipsy Blood received the award for Best Newcomer Documentary.

As previously announced, Oscar-winning film maker Kevin Macdonald was awarded the Coutts Grierson Trustees’ Award. Grierson Trust vice chairman and BBC documentaries commissioning editor Charlotte Moore described him as a “masterful storyteller, a director who is always trying to get to the core of his subjects and explore human truths. His desire to play with the documentary form makes him a unique talent in the industry and brings an energy and creative enthusiasm to every film he directs.”

Here is the full list of winners:

Clockwork Capital Most Entertaining Documentary

The Bengali Detective – Phil Cox for Native Voice Films; first shown: Cambridge Film Festival

Deluxe 142 Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – Domestic

Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die – Charlie Russell for Keo North; first shown: BBC Two

Vimeo Best Science Documentary

After Life: The Strange Science of Decay – Fred Hepburn, Dani Carlaw for BBC Scotland; first shown: BBC Four

CTVC Best Newcomer Documentary

Gypsy Blood – Leo Maguire for ClearStory; first shown: Channel 4

DocHouse and The Bertha Foundation Best Cinema Documentary

Bobby Fischer Against the World – Liz Garbus for Moxie Firecracker Films; first shown: General theatrical release

ITN Source Best Historical Documentary

The Love of Books: A Sarajevo Story – Sam Hobkinson for Oxford Film and Television; first shown: BBC Four

Sky Arts Best Student Documentary

The Betrayal – Karen Winther for National Film & Television School; first shown: BFI Southbank, London

The Open University Best Arts Documentary

Culture Show: Jeremy Deller – Middle Class Hero – Jack Cocker for BBC Scotland; first shown: BBC Two

Shell Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – International

Hell and Back Again – Danfung Dennis for Roast Beef Productions; first shown: More 4

Envy Best Documentary Series

Protecting Our Children – Sacha Mirzoeff, Emma Burman for BBC Productions; first shown: BBC Two

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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentary films, art projects and social inequalities. When she is not blogging or watching films she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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