Press Release

International Documentary Association Fetes Top Docs of 2007
A WALK TO BEAUTIFUL Captures Top Honors in Feature Category

LOS ANGELES, December 7, 11:45p.m. (PST) — A WALK TO BEAUTIFUL took top honors in the feature length competition here tonight at the 2007 International Documentary Association (IDA) Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards Gala Benefit at the Directors Guild of America Theatre.

The documentary, from director-producer Mary Olive Smith and executive producer Steve Engel, focuses on five courageous women in Ethiopia who have suffered from devastating childbirth injuries and have been shunned by their family and villages. The film follows the trials they endure and their attempts to rebuild their lives.

“The IDA Awards are presented to individuals who have earned the respect of their peers for their extraordinary achievements,” says IDA President Diane Estelle Vicari. “These films are a history of our times, and the conscience and soul of our global community. The films honored here tonight both enlighten and entertain, which is a rare combination these days.”


A SON’S SACRIFICE, from director Yoni Brook, producer Musa Sheed and executive producer Marco Williams, won the IDA short documentary (40 minutes or less) competition. The film follows the journey of Imran, a young American Muslim who confronts his roots at his father's slaughterhouse in New York City. On the holiest day of the year, Imran must lead his community in a sacrifice that forces him to define himself as a Muslim and a son.

The other nominated short films were BLACK AND WHITE, BODY & SOUL: DIANA & KATHY, THE FIGHTING CHOLITAS, and FREEHELD.

WE ARE TOGETHER (THINA SIMUNYE), from director-producer Paul Taylor and producer Teddy Leifer, won the inaugural Alan Ett Music Documentary Award for its exemplary creative use of music. Also nominated in this category were 4, CHOPS, NOTE BY NOTE: THE MAKING OF STEINWAY L1037 and WAR/DANCE.

Other highlights of the evening included the presentation of the IDA Career Achievement to Oscar®-winner Michael Moore, who has produced, written and directed 15 documentaries for the cinema and television, beginning with ROGER AND ME in 1989. Subsequently, he has consistently focused on controversial and universally important issues, including how gun violence (BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE), corruption in politics and the war on Iraq (FAHRENHEIT 9/11), and the health care system in the United States (SICKO) are affecting the lives of ordinary people and the future of the country.

Five-time® Oscar nominee Caleb Deschanel, ASC presented the IDA Outstanding Documentary Cinematography Award to Ken Burns’ longtime collaborator Buddy Squires. The award, sponsored by Kodak, recognizes Squires for his considerable contributions to advancing the art of nonfiction storytelling. Squires has compiled more than 80 documentary credits beginning with BROOKLYN BRIDGE in 1981 and most recently with the acclaimed PBS series THE WAR. His films have earned 18 Emmy® nominations with 13 taking top honors. Squires also shot eight films that were nominated for Oscars®, including one Academy Award® winner.

Producer/Director Spike Lee and producer Sam Pollard earned the Pare Lorentz Award for WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS. The Pare Lorentz Award is given to the film that best represents the activist spirit and lyrical vision of the legendary filmmaker.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour received the IDA Courage Under Fire Award, which is reserved for individuals who put themselves in harm’s way in order to bring important stories to the public. Earlier this year, Amanpour researched and presented THE WAR WITHIN, a long-form report and analysis of the growing unrest of the Islamic community in the United Kingdom.

Jocelyn Shearer accepted the IDA Preservation and Scholarship Award on behalf of National Geographic Digital Motion, and DARFUR NOW director Ted Braun received the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award.

Showtime’s THIS AMERICAN LIFE, created by Ira Glass/Chicago Public Radio and directed by Chris Wilcha, captured the IDA Award for a Continuing Series (four individual programs that best represent the series), and the Limited Series (series of episodes with a specific continuing theme) winner is the PBS program THE SUPREME COURT, directed by Thomas Lennon, produced by Mark Zwoniter, and executive produced by Jody Sheff.

The IDA ABCNEWS VideoSource Award winner is SPUTNIK MANIA, which was directed by David Hoffman, produced by Eric Reid, and executive produced by Jay Walker. The award is given to the documentary that best utilizes television news footage as an integral component of the work.

The David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award was presented to Erin Hudson for the film LONG HAUL, which was Hudson’s thesis film at Stanford University.

The IDA Awards selection process began with peer group juries who watched all submissions and selected nominees in each category for final review by a blue- ribbon panel.

A complete list of the 2007 IDA Award winners and nominees is available at 

IDA is a nonprofit, public interest organization. For more information, visit or call 213-534-3600.