Grantee/Partner News

Chasing Ice, CITIZENFOUR, Food Chains, Miners Shot Down, and Virunga win the 2016 Doc Impact Award

February 25, 2016

Grantee News From BRITDOC:

Now in its 5th year, the Doc Impact Award celebrates the documentary films that have made the greatest impact on society.

Doc Impact Award Winners 2016 from BRITDOC Foundation on Vimeo.

Thursday February 25th, 9am PST // 12pm EST // 5pm GMT: The five winners of the 2016 Doc Impact Award were announced on Twitter by the partners, sharing a short atmospheric video of a graffiti artist painting a mural of the film titles on a wall in LA.

The winners of the 2016 award were chosen by a group of ten partners, field leaders in film and social change: Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Participant Media, Bertha Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Compton Foundation, The Center for Media & Social Impact, The Fledgling Fund, BRITDOC Foundation and Media Impact Funders.

Some of the most pressing issues of the day. Some of the most socially conscious funders around. Some of the most fascinating discussions to be a part of,” said Tabitha Jackson, Director of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, responding to her experience choosing the winners.

Charting the story of their achievements and sharing best practice for the whole field, five Impact Reports have been published on the winning films. Additionally, this year’s winners will each receive $5,000, generously donated by The Fledgling Fund, to reward their extraordinary commitment, passion and accomplishments in using storytelling to provoke change.

Collectively I think they give us an understanding of the deep impact that films can have on important social justice issues and also illustrate how different that impact can be,” said Sheila Leddy, The Fledgling Fund’s Executive Director. “Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!” she added.

2016 will also see the return of the #DocImpactHi5 Award; a further $5,000 for the film that receives the most support tweets and retweets in the four days following the announcement.


Caty Borum Chattoo, the Co-Director of the Center for Media & Social Impact who was also on the selection panel explained, “This year’s award-winners represent the incredible range of global documentary projects that not only tell beautiful stories, but continue to effect change on some of the most important social justice challenges of our era.

The winning films cover diverse territories and far-reaching issues of environmental and social justice. Filmed in The Arctic, Hong Kong, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and farmland across the United States, the films deal with everything from documenting climate change and fighting for farmworkers’ rights to defending a national park against corruption and mineral exploitation; from threats to our privacy from state surveillance agencies to fighting for the victims of a state-sanctioned massacre.

The 2016 winners are:

CHASING ICE, Dir. Jeff Orlowski, Prods. Paula DuPré Pesmen and Jerry Aronson  (@ChasingIce)

Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Following acclaimed photographer James Balog, Chasing Ice plays like an adventure film, shifting the hearts and minds of audiences globally.

CITIZENFOUR, Dir. Laura Poitras (@citizenfour)

After filmmaker Laura Poitras received encrypted emails from someone with information on the US government’s massive covert-surveillance programs, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong to meet the sender, who turned out to be Edward Snowden. The film exposes the reality of mass surveillance and its consequences for personal privacy and public policy.

FOOD CHAINS, Dir. Sanjay Rawal, Prod. Smriti Keshari (@FoodChainsFilm)

Food Chains exposes the exploitation of farm workers in the agriculture industry in the US, the complicity of government and corporations in perpetuating human rights abuses, and the role consumers can play in ending some of the most egregious human rights violations in the country. Championing the Fair Food Program, Food Chains delivers citizen advocates and supports the farmworkers taking on the food super chains.  

MINERS SHOT DOWN, Dir. Rehad Desai, Prod. Anita Khanna (@MinersShotDown)

Nearly 40 miners were shot dead by South African police service at the Marikana Massacre in 2012 – the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since 1960. Miners Shot Down reveals the truth about what really happened, the deep fault lines it has exposed in South Africa’s nascent democracy and it calls for justice for the miners and their widows.  

VIRUNGA, Dir. Orlando von Einsiedel, Prod. Joanna Natasegara (@VirungaMovie)

Virunga is the incredible true story of a group of brave individuals risking their lives to save Africa’s oldest national park in the midst of renewed civil war and a scramble for the region’s natural resources. The film brought worldwide attention to the threat to the park from British mining company SOCO International, in the process forging an international coalition of partners to protect Virunga.  


The Doc Impact Award is releasing five comprehensive Impact Reports on the work of each film team and their campaign partners. With both the metrics and the anecdotal evidence of the films’ impact, these case studies of impact in action are essential for any filmmaker wishing to replicate the impressive work these filmmakers have undertaken.  The production of these reports has been supported by Adessium Foundation, Bertha Foundation, Compton Foundation and Participant MediaTHE #DOCIMPACTHI5: AN ADDITIONAL AWARD

The Impact High 5

Followers of #docimpact are invited to participate in deciding which of the five winners receive an additional $5,000 prize. It will be awarded to the film team that gets the most support tweets in the days following the announcement. Tweets with #DocImpactHi5 and the film’s twitter handle will be counted up until Midnight PST on Monday 29th February

The #DocImpactHi5 will be announced on on Tuesday 1st March.



Like all good things, this year’s Doc Impact Award has been made possible by the group effort of a great gang of international partners, with deep collective experience in film and social change.

The 2016 Doc Impact Award is proudly presented by:

Bertha Foundation, BRITDOC Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Compton Foundation, Center for Media & Social Impact, Fledgling Fund, Ford Foundation, Media Impact Funders, Participant Media, Sundance Institute.

The 2016 Doc Impact Award is made possible by the generous support from:

Adessium Foundation, Bertha Foundation, Compton Foundation, The Fledgling Fund, Participant Media.



Each of the partners were first asked to nominate five films that they had been impressed by and knew to have strong social change campaigns, but had not worked on. This longlist was shared amongst the whole group and put through a seconding process to collectively decide on just 12 film teams who were invited to apply for this year’s award.

The filmmakers were asked to submit reporting describing the film’s campaign and data demonstrating evidence of the film’s social impact. For example:

  • CHANGING MINDS – How a film demonstrably changed public awareness of a given issue
  • CHANGING STRUCTURES – How a film influenced corporate policy on sustainability or workplace issues; or perhaps impacted lawmakers & politicians triggering reviews or enquiries
  • CHANGING BEHAVIOURS – How a film affected consumer purchasing or voting decisions
  • BUILDING COMMUNITIES – How the film helped build capacity or raised funds for campaign organisations and other partners

These entries were reviewed by all partners, who came together for vigorous debate at the live selection meeting, where the five winners were finalised.


Launched in 2011, the Doc Impact Award has now honoured 20 talented, tenacious and  visionary filmmaking teams from across the world:

The Act of Killing (Denmark, 2012), Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, Co-directed by Anonymous and Christine Cynn, Produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen

The Age of Stupid (UK, 2009), Directed by Franny Armstrong and Produced by Lizzie Gillett

American Promise (USA, 2013), Directed & Produced by Michèle Stephenson & Joe Brewster

Armadillo (Denmark, 2010), Directed by Janus Metz, Produced by Ronnie Fridthjof & Sara Stockmann

Bag It (US, 2010), Directed by Suzan Beraza, Produced by Judy Kohn

Blackfish (US, 2013), Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Produced by Manuel Oteyza

Budrus (US, 2009), Directed by Julia Bacha, Produced by Ronit Avni, Rula Salameh and Julia Bacha

Bully (USA, 2011), Directed by Lee Hirsch, produced by Cynthia Lowen.

Burma VJ (Denmark, 2008), Directed by Anders Østergaard and Produced by Lise Lense-Møller

The End of The Line (UK, 2009), Directed by Rupert Murray and Produced by Claire Lewis & George Duffield

Gasland (US, 2010), Directed by Josh Fox, Produced by Trish Adlesic, Molly Gandour

Give Up Tomorrow (USA, 2011), Directed by Michael Collins, Produced by Marty Syjuco

Granito (USA, 2011), Directed by Pamela Yates, Produced by Paco de Onis

The House I Live In (USA, 2012), Directed by Eugene Jarecki, Produced by Melinda Shopsin, Chris St. John & Sam Cullman

The Interrupters (USA, 2011), Directed by Steve James

The Invisible War (USA, 2012), Directed by Kirby Dick, produced by Amy Ziering

No Fire Zone (UK, 2013), Directed by Callum Macrae, Produced by Zoe Sale

Trouble The Water (USA, 2008), Directed and produced by Tia Lessin & Carl Deal

The Reckoning (USA, 2009), Directed by Pamela Yates and produced by Paco de Onís

Weapon of War (Netherlands, 2009), Directed and Produced by Ilse & Femke van Velzen

Adessium Foundation

Adessium Foundation aspires to a society that encourages people to live in harmony with each other and their environments.

Bertha Foundation

Bertha Foundation dreams of a more just world and supports forms of activism that aim to bring about change.

BRITDOC Foundation

We are a non-profit founded in 2005 committed to enabling great documentary films and connecting them to audiences globally.

Chicken & Egg Pictures

Chicken & Egg Pictures supports women non-fiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change.

Compton Foundation

We ignite change. We support transformative leadership and courageous storytelling, inspiring action toward a peaceful, just, sustainable future.

The Center for Media & Social Impact

The Center for Media & Social Impact at American University is a research center and innovation lab that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact.

The Fledgling Fund

The Fledgling Fund is a private foundation driven by the passionate belief that film can inspire a better world.

Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation works with visionaries around the world to advance social justice and challenge inequality in all its forms.

Media Impact Funders

Media Impact Funders is a national network of funders, working broadly on media issues, in order to create social change.

Participant Media

Participant Media is a leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social change.

Sundance Institute

Founded by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that actively advances the work of independent storytellers in film and theatre.


Elise McCave at BRITDOC – 


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