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The Grierson Awards are awards set up by the Grierson Trust to recognize innovative and exciting documentary films. The awards were set up by the Grierson Trust to commemorate the life and work of the documentary filmmaker John Grierson. The awards were first set up in 1972 and have run annually. In 2000 the Grierson Trust forged a link with the UK Film Council in order to expand the awards and add more prestige to the awards.[1] The awards have grown in stature and recognition over the years and now are "more important (than ever). They have an impressive list engaging with a broad palette of styles and subjects from disabled people looking for love to asylums, Russian billionaires and global warming." [2]

John GriersonEdit

John Grierson is widely considered[who?] to be the godfather of documentary film, and he has also been attributed to have coined the name "documentary".[3] He was born in Scotland in 1898. Grierson was the founder of a new movement of documentary film in the 1930s. He started the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit, and in 1933 the GPO Film Unit, gathering together such diverse and exciting talents as Humphrey Jennings, Paul Rotha and Alberto Cavalcanti.[4] His ground-breaking work on the Scottish herring fleet, Drifters, had its premiere in 1929 alongside the first British showing of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. In 1936, he produced the celebrated Night Mail, directed by Harry Watt with script by W.H. Auden and score by Benjamin Britten.[5]

Grierson: SheffieldsEdit

Sheffield Doc/Fest works in conjunction with The Grierson Trust to present Grierson: Sheffield. There are three awards presented by the Grierson Trust, the Green Award, which recognises a documentary exploring environmental issues or that has made a contribution to the climate change debate. The Innovation Award, a documentary that exhibits innovation in format, style, technique or content and The Youth Jury Award. The Youth Jury is a panel of 16- to 21-year-olds that are selected by Channel 4 and 4Talent.


The Grierson Awards are presented annually in eleven categories:

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme
  • Best Documentary on Current Affairs
  • Best Arts Documentary
  • Best Historical Documentary
  • Best Science or Natural History Documentary
  • Best Entertaining Documentary
  • Best Drama Documentary
  • Best Cinema Documentary
  • Best Newcomer Documentary
  • Grierson Trustees' Award
  • Best Documentary Series

Past winnersEdit

2014 winners[6]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - The Murder Trial, dir: Nick Holt
  • Best Cinema Documentary - Cutie and the Boxer, dir: Zachary Heinzerling
  • The Trustees’ Award - Alex Graham
  • Best Documentary Series - Educating Yorkshire, dir: David Brindley, Grace Reynold

2013 winners[7]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Law of the Jungle, dir: Michael Christoffersen, Hans La Cour
  • Best Cinema Documentary - The House I Live In, dir: Eugene Jarecki
  • The Trustees’ Award - John Battsek
  • Best Documentary Newcomer - High Tech, Low Life, dir: Steve Maing

2012 winners[8]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Hell and Back Again, dir: Danfung Dennis
  • Best Cinema Documentary - Bobby Fischer Against the World, dir: Liz Garbus
  • The Trustees’ Award - Kevin Macdonald'

2011 winners[9]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Secret Iraq - The Insurgency, dir: Sam Collyns
  • Best Documentary on the Arts - Bird on a Wire, dir: Tony Palmer
  • Best Historical Documentary - "Fire in Babylon, dir: Stevan Riley
  • Best Cinema Documentary - The Arbor, dir: Clio Barnard
  • The Trustees’ Award - John Pilger

2010 winners[10]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Moving to Mars, dir: Mat Whitecross
  • Best Documentary on the Arts - Arena: T.S. Eliot, dir: Adam Low
  • Best Historical Documentary - "Requiem for Detroit, dir: Julien Temple
  • The Award for Most Entertaining Documentary - Exit Through the Gift Shop, dir: Banksy
  • Best Cinema Documentary - Mugabe and the White African, dir: Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson

2009 winners[11]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Afghan Star, dir: Havana Marking
  • Best Documentary on the Arts - The Mona Lisa Curse, dir: Mandy Chang
  • Best Historical Documentary - "Thriller in Manila, dir: John Dower
  • The Award for Most Entertaining Documentary - The Yes Men: Fix the World, dir: Andy Bichibaum, Mike Bonnano
  • Best Cinema Documentary - Burma VJ, dir: Anders Østergaard
  • Trustees' Award - Norma Percy

2008 winners[12]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - The Lie of the Land, dir: Molly Dineen
  • Best Documentary on the Arts - Here's Jonny, dir: Adam Lavis, William Hood, Katrina Mansoor
  • Best Historical Documentary - 1983 – The Brink of Apocalypse, dir: Henry Chancellor
  • The Award for Most Entertaining Documentary - Please Vote for Me, dir: Weijun Chen, Don Edkins, Mette Heide
  • Best Drama Documentary - Battle for Haditha, dir: Nick Broomfield
  • Best Cinema Documentary - Joy Division, dir: Grant Gee

2007 winners[13]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Rain In My Heart, dir: Paul Watson
  • Best Documentary on the Arts - Imagine...Who Cares About Art?, dir: Sam Hobkinson
  • Best Historical Documentary - Hungary 1956: Our Revolution, dir: Mark Kidel
  • Best Documentary on Science or the Natural World - Monkeys, Rats and Me, dir: Adam Wishart
  • The Frontier Post Award for Most Entertaining Documentary - Ray Gosling OAP, dir: Amanda Reilly
  • Best Drama Documentary - Consent, dir: Katie Baliff
  • Best Documentary Series - Anatomy Of A Crime, dir: Steph Atkinson
  • Best Cinema Documentary - Deep Water, dir: Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell
  • Best Newcomer - No Man is an Island, dir: Sonja Linden
  • Trustees' Award - Paul Watson

2006 winners[14]Edit

  • Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Asylum, dir: Peter Gordon
  • Best Documentary on the Arts - Take That For The Record, dir: David Notman-Watt
  • Best Historical Documentary - How Vietnam Was Lost (Two Days In October), dir: Robert Kenner
  • Best Documentary on Science or the Natural World - The Natural World: The Queen Of Trees, dir: Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble
  • The Frontier Post Award for Most Entertaining Documentary - Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: "Prog 3 - Momma Charris", dir: Christine Hall
  • Best Drama Documentary - The Year London Blew Up, dir: Edmund Coulthard
  • Best International Cinema Documentary - Storyville: Darwin's Nightmare, dir: Hubert Sauper
  • Best Newcomer - Disabled and Looking For Love, dir: Clare Richards
  • Trustees' Award - Mike Salisbury


  1. ^ "Film Council Grierson Documentary Awards".
  2. ^ Graef, Roger (2006-11-27). "Reel life changes". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  3. ^ Ann Curthoys, Marilyn Lake Connected worlds: history in transnational perspective, Volume 2004 p.151. Australian National University Press
  4. ^ "John Grierson Biography".
  5. ^ "John Grierson CBE".
  6. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2014 Awards Linked 2019-01-16
  7. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2013 Awards Linked 2014-11-16
  8. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2012 Awards Archived 2014-10-16 at the Wayback Machine Linked 2014-11-16
  9. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2011 Awards Linked 2014-11-16
  10. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2010 Awards Linked 2014-11-16
  11. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2009 Awards Linked 2014-11-15
  12. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2008 Awards Linked 2014-11-15
  13. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2007 Awards Linked March 13, 2017
  14. ^ The Grierson Trust: 2006 Awards Archived 2008-02-10 at the Wayback Machine Linked 2012-10-16

External linksEdit