Independent Lens Series Producer and ITVS Vice President, Lois Vossen, was on hand Monday night in New York for the 31st Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards. Earlier today she filed this report for BTB, on an evening that bestowed plenty of laurels on public television. A warm September rain didn't dampen the News & Documentary Emmy Awards. The most respected and recognizable faces in broadcast journalism, along with hundreds of independent documentary filmmakers, producers, and broadcasters gathered at Lincoln Center for this annual showcase to acknowledge the best in television journalism and reporting.
A highlight of this year's ceremony was a Lifetime Achievement Award for Frederick Wiseman. Independent Lens proudly premiered Fred's narrative film The Last Letter on our third season (2005). Additionally, ITVS has worked with Fred and funded three of his films including State Legislature, Boxing Gym (broadcasting this fall on PBS), and his upcoming film on the University of California, Berkeley. In his well-timed remarks, Fred thanked the people inside public television who have supported his work these many years including: Sandy Heberer at PBS, Tammy Robinson in her years at WNET, and Claire Aguilar of ITVS. Not just anyone can graciously accept a lifetime achievement award by effectively telling a morgue joke. Fred can.
The other sustained applause of the evening went to presenter Dan Rather for his impassioned plea to the ideals of journalism in a society obsessed with celebrity and sound bites. "Do we still believe that an independent press is the fierce, beating heart of democracy?" Rather asked, asserting that journalism serves as a "parallel justice system” by exposing wrongdoing. “These ideals are being threatened today. The country needs you and your work now more than ever, not just because it will be what keeps the news media and journalism alive, but more importantly, it is what will keep a healthy democracy and a civil society alive."
It was great to see our colleagues from PBS NewsHour — Robert MacNeil, Jim Lehrer, Les Crystal, and Linda Winslow — receive the Chairman's Award for their outstanding work at this 35-year-old venerable news institution.
Big congratulations to Geoffrey Smith and our colleagues at P.O.V.! Geoffrey won an Emmy for his ITVS-funded documentary The English Surgeon. We also congratulate the three Independent Lens films that were nominated: Crips & Bloods: Made in America by Stacy Peralta, No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos by James Chressanthis, and Tulia, Texas by Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen; and the two additional ITVS-funded nominees: The Way We Get By by Aron Gaudet, and Be Like Others by Tanaz Eshaghian. Excellent documentary film and journalism are thriving, and we will continue to respond to Mr. Rather's call to arms.
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