The International Documentary Association’s IDA Awards, one of the stronger harbingers of Oscar success in the categories of best documentary feature and best documentary short, on Thursday announced its own shortlists for those categories — 30 documentary features from 375 submissions and 21 documentary shorts from 153 submissions. Among the list was NYWIFT Member Lisa Cortes’ The Apollo and NYWIFT Member Carolyn Hepburn’s One Child Nation. Congratulations!
Helmed by Academy and Emmy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams, The Apollo chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of the New York City landmark, the Apollo Theater. The documentary weaves together archival footage, music, comedy and dance performances, and behind-the-scenes verité with the team that makes the theater run. The Apollo features interviews with artists including Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx.
The Apollo executive producer, Lisa Cortes was born in 1965 in Milford, Connecticut. Although she was born in Connecticut, Cortes spent much of her youth on the streets of Harlem. She attended Milford Academy and then enrolled in Yale University where she majored in American Studies. After graduating she went into the music business where she worked with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, the founders of Def Jam. Cortes then joined the staff at Mercury Records. While at Mercury Records, she worked with stars such as Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight. In 1994, Cortes was offered her own label called Loose Cannon. Loose Cannon lasted for two years until it was shut down on October 31, 1996, shortly after Cortes sued Mercury records for sexual and racial discrimination.
From award-winning documentarian Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, the sweeping One Child Nation explores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another — from abandoned newborns, to forced sterilizations and abortions, and government abductions. China’s One Child Policy, the extreme population control measure that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child, may have ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma of its brutal enforcement is only just beginning. Wang digs fearlessly into her own personal life, weaving her experience as a new mother and the firsthand accounts of her family members into archival propaganda material and testimony from victims and perpetrators alike, yielding a revelatory and essential record of this chilling, unprecedented moment in human civilization.
One Child Nation’s Carolyn Hepburn is an Emmy winning producer. Carolyn executive produced Ringside directed by André Hörmann which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and co-executive produced The Apollo directed by Roger Ross Williams which premiered as the Opening Night Film at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. She executive produced Charm City, shortlisted for the 2019 Academy Award, and Love, Gilda, the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Opening Night Film. In 2018, Carolyn produced Take Your Pills for Netflix and Take Back the Harbor for Discovery as well as co-executive produced Inventing Tomorrow and The Cleaners, both of which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival premiere. She co-produced Life, Animated, which won three News & Documentary Emmys, the U.S. Documentary Directing Award at Sundance, and went on to be nominated for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Carolyn executive produced Weiner, winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize and shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award. She produced 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, winner of the 2015 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Social Impact, nominated for an Emmy Award, and shortlisted for the 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Carolyn executive produced Art and Craft, shortlisted for the 2015 Academy Award and Emmy nominated. Other recent projects include Humans of New York: The Series; Shadowman; Chicken People; and Indian Point.
This year’s IDA Awards will honor documentary work across 15 categories, including best feature, best short and, for the first time, best director. The other 12 categories are: best curated series, best episodic series, best multi-part documentary, best short form series, best audio documentary, best music documentary, best cinematography, best editing, best writing, best music score, the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award and the Pare Lorentz Award.
For the first time, nominees in craft categories will be selected exclusively by cinematographers, editors, writers and composers.
Congratulations again to Carolyn Hepburn and Lisa Cortes!