HBO's 'Saving Face' takes short award

Malik Bendjelloul’s “Searching for Sugar Man” has won the best feature award from the International Documentary Assn., adding to its lengthy list of kudos.

The award was announced Friday night during ceremonies at the Directors Guild of America. The film also received the IDA’s creative recognition award for best music.

The IDA’s best short award went to HBO’s “Saving Face,” directed by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and the continuing series award went to the PBS series “American Masters.” Werner Herzog won the limited series award for Investigation Discovery’s “On Death Row,” which Herzog wrote and directed.

“Searching for Sugar Man” details efforts by South African fans to uncover the truth about the rumored death of American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who had become a key voice for a generation in Apartheid-era South Africa after his career in the United States failed to gain traction. The film is produced by Simon Chinn and John Battsek.

“Sugar Man” topped Ken Burns’ “The Central Park Five,” Kirby Dick’s “The Invisible War,” Lauren Greenfield’s “Queen of Versailles” and Peter Gerdehag’s “Women with Cows.” “Sugar Man” and “Invisible War” are also among the 15 nonfiction films on the shortlist for the next Academy Award.

“Sugar Man” began the year by winning the special jury prize and the audience award for best international documentary at Sundance and has taken trophies at film flestivals in Los Angeles, Durban, Moscow, Amsterdam and Doha. It’s taken in $2.85 million at the domestic box office for Sony Classics — a relatively robust performance for a doc.

Chilean film ”Nostalgia for the Light” has won the IDA’s best feature award last year.

“Saving Face,” which won the Oscar in February for documentary short, follows British plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad returning to his homeland of Pakistan to help victims of acid burns. It topped Rebecca Cammisa’s “God Is The Bigger Elvis,” Sari Gilman’s “Kings Point,” Cynthia Wade’s “Mondays at Racine” and Kief Davidson’s “Open Heart.”

“American Masters” topped “Independent Lens” and “POV” in the continuing series competiton. “On Death Row” topped limited series nominees “Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan,” “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” “Slavery: A 21st Century Evil” and “The Weight of the Nation.”

The ceremonies, hosted by Penn Jillette, also included the presentation of the previously announced career achievement award to Arnold Shapiro by his longtime friend Bob Eubanks. Shapiro received an Oscar in 1979 for his documentary “Scared Straight” and noted that fear was the key to his success.

David France, first-time director of “How to Survive a Plague” received the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Filmmaker Award. The IDA’s Pioneer Award went to to the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund, presented by 2008 IDA Pioneer Award honoree Rob Epstein.

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