Frances Causey – Final Fight: When the Trauma of War Comes Home
Frances Causey (USA), Final Fight: When the Trauma of War Comes Home, Doc Feature – Emmy winner Causey’s deft direction brings to light the epidemic levels of PTSD-related suicide rates in veterans from both combat and military sexual assault (4.5x higher than the total number of service members lost in battle during the entire Global War on Terror), through this exceptionally crafted doc – presenting a stunningly comprehensive view of the issues and offering compelling solutions. Final Fight profiles a diverse set of veterans and their responses to living with combat and military sexual trauma as well as an eye-opening connection between traumatic brain injury and PTS related suicide. Leading experts in brain science offer clear explanations of both the physiology and the psychology. A perfectly balanced expose that combines compassion, understanding, and a compelling call to action while celebrating the resilience and humanity of its subjects. Tightly crafted, emotionally moving and exceptional in every way.
Susan Kucera – Wild Genius
Susan Kucera (USA), Wild Genius, Doc Feature – Award-winning filmmaker Kucera delivers a mesmerizing, tightly woven documentary with a transformative message. “Wild Genius” vividly captures the extraordinary life and mental health struggles of renowned evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, hailed by TIME magazine as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. Trivers, described as an “under-appreciated genius,” revolutionized our comprehension of human behavior through the lens of evolutionary biology. His advocacy for civil rights and straightforward reasoning presents a compelling argument: understanding our evolutionary origins empowers rather than constrains us. This exceptional documentary challenges societal norms and prompts us to reconsider our place in the natural world. “Wild Genius” is not merely the tale of a pioneering scientist; it’s an invitation to re-imagine life itself, fostering the potential for a brighter future. Wild Genius is more than a spirited and provocative biography, it’s a journey into the deepest corners of human nature. Rangeland Productions.
Nick August-Perna – Tell Them You Love Me
Nick August-Perna (USA), Tell Them You Love Me, Doc Feature – Delve into the remarkable story of Anna Stubblefield, a distinguished university professor entangled in a controversial relationship with Derrick Johnson, a non-verbal man with cerebral palsy. Stubblefield asserts she liberated Johnson’s mind from his physical constraints through keyboard-based communication. Their ensuing connection precipitated a legal trial challenging societal perceptions of disability and consent. August-Perna’s commitment to crafting a film that compels audiences to grapple with the narrative until the final frame is realized with exceptional finesse. Successfully evoking empathy from divergent perspectives demands extraordinary skill. Through exclusive footage and interviews with everyone involved, it intricately explores themes of communication, disability, race, and sexuality. Provocative and enduring, this documentary prompts profound reflection and dialogue long after its conclusion, fostering meaningful discourse for all who experience it. Was it love or control? Executive produced by BAFTA-winner and Emmy-Nominee Louis Theroux. Mindhouse production.
Catherine Gale – The Battle to Beat Malaria
Catherine Gale (United Kingdom), The Battle to Beat Malaria, Doc Feature – Gale’s masterful direction brings forth a gripping documentary on the relentless battle against malaria—a global struggle marked by science’s triumphs and human resilience. Amidst millions falling victim to this persistent scourge annually, the film transcends the narrative of vaccine development, delving into the emotional and personal journeys of the scientists driving progress. From cutting-edge labs in England to fieldwork in Africa, where researchers expose themselves to mosquito bites for data collection, the documentary immerses viewers in the high-stakes world of vaccine development. Gale captures the raw intensity of clinical trials and the profound impact on both the field of medicine and the lives of the scientists themselves. With a blend of information, emotion, and suspense, this epic narrative traces a path from despair to hope, offering a deeply immersive and compelling exploration of humanity’s fight against one of its oldest foes. Narrated by Ako Mitchell (Aliens vs. Predator) Aired PBS Nova.
Oliver Goetzl – Yellowstone
Oliver Goetzl (Germany), Yellowstone, Doc Feature – Experience the unparalleled wonder of Yellowstone National Park, America’s inaugural national treasure. Renowned filmmaker Goetzl expertly captures the untamed essence of this remarkable landscape, seamlessly blending informative and highly entertaining storytelling with captivating visuals. Set against a vibrant soundtrack, “Yellowstone” unveils the sprawling valleys, majestic bison herds, iconic wolf packs, and formidable grizzly bears that call this place home. As part of the groundbreaking wildlife series “AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS,” Goetzl’s vision, alongside the talent of filmmaker Ivo Nörenberg, unfolds over three years of dedicated filming. Through exceptional cinematography, this documentary presents Yellowstone’s extraordinary wildlife and breathtaking landscapes in a manner rarely seen.
Rick Lazes and Tom Denucci (USA), Knock Out Blonde, Doc Feature – Compassionate direction reveals Kellie’s remarkable journey from famous Frank Maloney, machismo boxing promoter behind Lewis’s heavyweight championship, as she grapples with confronting her true self. Triumphs, unflinching struggles, and a suicide attempt – her transition to womanhood brought acceptance and peace. Deeply moving, compelling.
Ravit Markus and Dan Katzir (USA), American Pot Story: Oaksterdam, Doc Feature – 10 years in the making, a doc about the dedication and deep, personal sacrifices of passionate activists seeking to legalize marijuana. The dedication of Richard Lee and Dale Sky Jones is humbling and the engagingly crafted doc transcends their story to show how democracy can work to build a better future. Absorbing editing and storytelling.
Nic Davis (USA), 21 Miles in Malibu, Doc Feature – Emmy-winner Davis explores the heart-wrenching tale of Malibu: a paradise devastated by a high-speed highway. Inspired by producer Michael Shane’s (I Robot) personal tragedy losing his daughter on this road, it weaves emotional personal stories of loss, local history, and activism into a cautionary narrative of government neglect and citizen resilience.
Bryony Jane Gilbey (USA), Honorable but Broken: EMS in Crisis, Doc Feature – Narrated by Emmy Winner Sarah Jessica Parker – Unveils the stark realities of EMS work and systemic failures leading to critical workforce shortages, especially in rural areas. Through poignant interviews, it exposes the collapse of the EMS system, the lack of state mandated EMS provisions and advocates for urgent reforms.
Ana Salceda (USA), Treasure of the Caribbean, Doc Feature – Emmy-nominee Salceda’s hopeful look at conservation’s potential following the 2013 stunning discovery of a massive, uncharted Caribbean coral reef, untouched by bleaching that has decimated other reefs. To protect this rare super reef, dedicated and creative scientists partner with local fishers to chronicle its riches and fight for its conservation. Aired PBS Nature
Andrew Nisker (Canada), Nuked, Doc Feature – Unveils the harrowing legacy of 23 Cold War nuclear blasts in the Bikini Atoll. Nisker intricately explores the ongoing plight of displaced Bikinians now also facing climate change threats. Compelling archival footage and survivor testimonies, the doc vividly contrasts official narratives with the stark reality. A poignant and gut-wrenching portrayal of human resilience.
Randall Wood (Australia), Flyways: The Untold Journey of Migratory Shorebirds, Doc Feature – Follows colorful scientists in a race to map migratory shorebirds’ epic journeys navigating ancient routes around the world. Using nanotech and ISS tracking they uncover the paths of these feathered athletes. An exhilarating look at the collaboration of scientists and activists striving to save these endangered species. PBS Nature
Shayon Maitra (USA), Ending HIV in America, Doc Feature – Explores HIV progress over 40 years, community activism and the potential end of HIV in America. Follows treatment’s twists, personal tragedy and triumphs, while tackling real-world challenges of getting help for the people who need it the most. Writer/Producer Emmy-nominee Caleb Hellerman. Narrated by Jamie Effros (Give or Take) Aired PBS Nova
Joseph P. D. McMaster (USA), From Controversy To Cure: Inside the Cambridge Biotech Boom, Doc Feature – Emmy-nominee and Peabody winner McMaster unveils a gripping narrative of Cambridge’s biotech boom since 1976. Witness a clash of scientists and citizens, ultimately shaping the city into the biotech capital of the world as innovation and urban renewal birthed groundbreaking therapies for millions globally.
James Higginson (Germany), SHUDDHI, Doc Short – Emmy-winner Higginson creates an evocative fusion of documentary and auteur cinema delves into the lives of the residents in the last home for leprosy in India. Through stunning cinematography, poetic narrative and lush soundtrack, it captures the beauty of familial bonds and the resilience of those affected, exploring themes of humanity, fear, love and cultural stigma.
HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, Part2 Pictures, Wild Elements (USA), Wild Hope: Does Nature Have Rights?, Doc Short – Part of the Wild Hope series, explores activism in biodiverse Ecuador, where wild spaces face unprecedented threats. Since 2008, the nation’s groundbreaking constitution grants legal rights to nature. Witness conservationists invoke these rights to save biodiversity hotspots. A potent tale of grassroots advocacy
Dante Bellini (USA), Demons & Dragans. Mark Patinkin’s Cancer Journey, Doc Short – Pulitzer Prize finalist, journalist Mark Patinkin was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Suddenly, the story was about him and his life became a series of cliffs. Emmy-winner Bellini’s thoughtful doc creates a raw and touching story of the emotional impact of the diagnosis. Focusing on inner strength, family bonds and the role of hope.
Alessia Barbiero (Netherlands), Diary of Travelling Rivers, Doc Short – Join Maria’s journey in Colombia, where environmental activists face deadly risks, 60 citizens killed in 2022. Through Travelling Rivers, she maps communities along rivers, bridging divides and sharing stories. This doc highlights unity in the global water crisis, advocating for collective action beyond borders for every human.
Mary McDonagh Murphy (USA), What Design Can Do, Doc Short – Emmy-winner Murphy’s visually captivating and eye-opening doc proves the importance of thoughtful design. Featuring innovative projects worldwide, it illustrates how psychologically sensitive, science-informed design materially promotes physical and mental health, buttresses learning outcomes and fortifies the social connections that build communities.
Daniel Sheire (USA), Lights Out Texas, Doc Short – Emmy-nominee Sheire delivers a captivating doc about a crucial program in Texas to protect 2 billion birds each year on their nocturnal migration. Through expert interviews and compelling narratives, witness innovative solutions for a brighter, sustainable future. A powerful reminder to preserve our dark skies and protect wildlife. Fascinating and inspiring.
Matthew Williams-Ellis (United Kingdom), Karibu Nyumbani, Doc Short – A potent journey through the Maasai Mara, where breathtaking cinematography and a powerful yet poetic message of conservation converge through the words of Mara guide George Osono. Meet cheetahs, lions, elephants, and more, all captured with mesmerizing cinematography from Williams-Ellis and accompanied by a moving soundtrack.
HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, Part2 Pictures, Wild Elements (USA), Wild Hope: The Beautiful Undammed, Doc Short – Part of the Wild Hope series, a remarkable tale of ecological rebirth on Washington’s Elwha River a decade after the dam removal. Thriving salmon populations are revitalizing the ecosystem, stirring advocates worldwide. A tale of hope and restoration, urging dam removal globally. Informative and inspiring.
Simone Vrech and Sandra Lopez Cabrera (Italy), Lombard Woman, Doc Short – The life of a Lombard woman in the seventh century, from birth to death. Exceptional research guides this tightly-woven doc, excellent scripting, poignant interviews and beautifully crafted reenactments. Lush cinematography and score follow the often harsh life of Lombard women. Moving narration by Chiara Pasqualini.
Dragos Teglas (United Kingdom), Meet the Local Hero – Glenn Johnstone – A moving and compelling short doc showcasing Glenn’s inspiring journey from a bone tumor diagnosis to amputation. With a custom prosthetic leg, and unwavering support from his father, he reclaims his passion for biking, celebrating resilience, family, and the triumph of the human spirit. Tightly crafted and genuinely inspiring.
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