A long night at Los Angeles' DGA Theater - punctuated by warm and sometimes biting humor from host Morgan Spurlock and an ace acceptance speech by Pioneer Award winners Alan and Susan Raymond - ended with the International Documentary Associations Documentary Feature Award going to Lucy Walker's WASTE LAND.
It was the first time that the IDA had opened up its final voting to its general membership (nominees were determined by blue ribbon panels), which gave an edge to the audience pleasing WASTE LAND over its fellow nominees EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, THE OATH, STEAM OF LIFE and SWEETGRASS.
In fact, it's the latest in a long series of awards - including numerous Audience prizes - for WASTE LAND, which chronicles what happens when Brazilian artist Vik Muniz creates large scale portraits of garbage dump pickers using materials found at the dump. We've long been forecasting a Best Documentary Feature Oscar nomination for the film, which was shortlisted last month. WASTE LAND also received the IDA's Pare Lorentz Prize, one of several awards whose winner was announced prior to the event.
The award for Documentary Short went to Kiran Deol's WOMAN REBEL, which is also on the Academy's short list in its category.
But the biggest nod that this wasn't your grandfather's IDA Awards came right at the top when Spurlock and IDA President Eddie Schmidt took to the stage in towels, later bursting into song, all in spoof of the Finnish naked-guy-sauna-confessional STEAM OF LIFE. Later skits were gentle send ups of THE OATH (which shared the pre-announced Humanitas Award) and SWEETGRASS, with the latter - featuring a barely communicative Schmidt and Spurlock in cowboy hats surrounded by baa-ing sheep sounds - perhaps the best of the bunch.
The highlight of the show itself, most agreed, was the Pioneer Award acceptance speech by Alan and Susan Raymond, which highlighted the ups and downs of their historic career. Speaking of their ground-breaking television series AN AMERICAN FAMILY, Susan talked about how they were pariahs after the series aired: "People thought we caused the divorce and made Lance (Loud) gay. No one would make a film with us."
In addition to the nominees, several other of this year's shortlisted filmmakers were present for the event, including Amir Bar-Lev (THE TILLMAN STORY), Josh Fox (GASLAND) and Madeleine Sackler (THE LOTTERY).
A list of pre-announced winners is here.