Trial by Fire
The film plods at points, trudging along, and there are a few misguided narrative "devices" tacked on, but still, "Trial by Fire" bristles with anger.
The International Documentary Association (IDA) celebrated the winners of its annual awards (the "Oscars" of the documentary world) during a ceremony held on Saturday at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles. On the same night it was named the Best Documentary of 2018 by the Chicago Film Critics Association, Bing Liu's debut feature, "Minding the Gap," earned the IDA's highest prize of Best Feature. It's the latest in a series of well-deserved accolades Liu's film has collected ever since premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking. It has also been nominated for two major prizes at the the Film Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Documentary Feature. In addition to this top honor, Gordon Quinn, artistic director of Kartemquin Films, joined "If Beale Street Could Talk" director Barry Jenkins in presenting Liu with the IDA's Emerging Filmmaker Award.
Liu's film explores his bond with longtime friends Zack and Keire, and how they have each grappled with the scars of domestic abuse while skating the near-vacant streets of Rockford, Illinois. Like many serious Oscar contenders this year, "Minding the Gap" was distributed via a streaming service, and can currently be viewed on Hulu. The nine other nominees for Best Feature included Stephen Maing's "Crime + Punishment," a scathing account of the NYPD's illegal practices, which earned the IDA Courage Under Fire Award. Maing brought all twelve of the department's whistleblowers onstage, and was greeted by the audience with a standing ovation. The Career Achievement Award went to filmmaker Julia Reichert, a three-time Oscar nominee for her films "Union Maids," "Seeing Red" and "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant."
RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert presented the prize for Best Short Form Series to David Freid's MEL Films. And a film on which Ebert served as an Executive Producer, "Mr. SOUL!", the film about the trailblazing television icon, Ellis Haizlip, directed by Melissa Haizlip, shared the Best Music Documentary prize with Steve Loveridge’s "Matangi/Maya/M.I.A." Ricki Lake, the star of John Waters' original "Hairspray," served as the evening's host. A complete list of the winners can be found below.
2018 IDA Documentary Awards Best Feature: "Minding the Gap" (Hulu/POV. Director/Producer: Bing Liu. Producer: Diane Quon)
2018 IDA Documentary Awards Best Short: "Zion" (Netflix. Director/Producer: Floyd Russ. Producer: Carter Collins)
Best Episodic Series: "The Trade" (Showtime. Executive Producers: Matthew Heineman and Pagan Harleman)
Best Short Form Series: MEL Films (Executive Producer: David Freid)
Best Music Documentary: "Mr. SOUL!" (Director/Producer: Melissa Haizlip. Co-Director: Samuel D. Pollard) "MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A." (Abramorama. Director/Producer: Steve Loveridge. Producers: Lori Cheatle, Paul Mezey and Andrew Goldman)
Best Audio Documentary: "Caliphate" (The New York Times. Reporters: Rukmini Callimachi and Andy Mills. Producers: Andy Mills, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, and Asthaa Chaturvedi)
Best Cinematography: "Distant Constellation" (Cinephil. Cinematographer: Shevaun Mizrahi)
Best Editing: "Minding the Gap" (Hulu. Editors: Bing Liu and Joshua Altman)
Best Writing: "The Other Side of Everything" (Writer: Mila Turajlić)
2018 IDA Documentary Awards Sponsored Special Awards
Pare Lorentz Award Winner: "The Silence of Others" (Cinephil/POV. Directors/Producers: Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar) Honorable Mention: "The Distant Barking of Dogs" (Cinephil. Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont. Producer: Monica Hellstrøm)
David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award Winner: "Circle" (National Film and Television School. Director: Jayisha Patel)
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A tribute to Doris Day.