The Peabody Awards recognized 30 programs including documentary films Apollo 11, For Sama, Hale County, This Morning This Evening and The Edge of Democracy as the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2019. Actress Cicely Tyson was named winner of the Peabody Career Achievement Award.
“This year’s winners are a vibrant collective of inspiring, innovative, and powerful stories. True to the spirit and legacy of Peabody, our winners are also distinguished by the presence and resilience of many emerging and diverse voices,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody. “We are especially proud to celebrate ‘FRONTLINE’ as an unwavering source for truth through quality journalism when both are actively under attack, and ‘The Simpsons,’ one of the most consistently funny and culturally important satirical sitcoms over the last three decades.”
Although adjudicated earlier this spring, seven out of this year’s 30 award winners squarely focus on racist policing and institutional racial problems within the criminal justice system, including the documentary “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”; and the miniseries on the Central Park Five case, “When They See Us.”
The Peabody 30 are the best of nearly 1,300 entries submitted from television, radio/podcasts, and the web across the genres of entertainment, news, documentary, children’s and public service programming. All winners are chosen unanimously by a board of 19 jurors. The Peabody Awards are based at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Peabody Awards Ceremony -originally slated to take place in Los Angeles for the first time on June 18 -is canceled.
Peabody Awards 2020 Winners
Comprised entirely, and masterfully, of archival materials, “Apollo 11” is a reminder of a time when America celebrated scientific accomplishment and engineers, test pilots, human “computers,” and government agencies collaborated to pull something off that had never been done before. With previously unreleased 70mm film footage and audio files, reproduced here without talking heads or authoritative narration, this compelling documentary makes NASA’s first moon landing present and visceral for a new generation.
CNN Films (CNN)
In the painful and poetic testament that is “For Sama,” Waad al-Kateab wrestles with why she and her husband remain in besieged Aleppo to help run a hospital, as the choice to flee is much more wrenching than one might imagine and the choice to stay is equally confounding, yet understandable. We have all seen the war in Syria in countless news reports, but we have not seen it like this.
FRONTLINE PBS, Channel 4 News, ITN Productions, Channel 4 (PBS)
“Independent Lens: HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING”
In this intimate exploration of the everyday lives of African Americans in rural Alabama through artistically rendered vignettes, director RaMell Ross captures the feel, atmosphere, fiber and culture of a community rarely seen on film.
A production of Idiom Film, LLC and Louverture Films, in association with Field of Vision (PBS)
“POV: Inventing Tomorrow”
Laura Nix’s inspiring profile of six amazing teenage scientists from around the world serves not only as a celebration of science, of knowledge, and of sheer ingenuity, but as a celebration of young people working to solve the problems gifted to them by prior generations.
Fishbowl Films, Motto Pictures, 19340 Productions, Shark Island Institute, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, IQ190 Productions, American Documentary | POV (PBS)
“POV: Midnight Traveler”
Filmed on phones by Hassan Fazili, this autobiographical account of his refugee family’s journey from Afghanistan to Hungary is an arresting and deeply moving testament to the power of parenting through trauma. It offers a remarkably rare and valuable humanizing picture of the everyday life of a refugee family, while also stopping at points to consider the ethics of filming such a story.
Old Chilly Pictures LLC, American Documentary | POV, Independent Television Service (PBS)
“POV: The Distant Barking of Dogs”
Simon Lereng Wilmont’s beautiful, moving, and nuanced documentary chronicles life in a war zone through the eyes of a child. The story of an Eastern Ukrainian boy and his fiercely devoted grandmother pits the harsh realities of war against the innocence of childhood in a gracefully edited collection of cinéma vérité moments.
Final Cut for Real, Mouka Filmi, STORY, Bayerischer Rundfunk, ARTE, American Documentary | POV (PBS)
“POV: The Silence of Others”
Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar offer a stunning reflection on fascism, memory and forgetting by documenting the struggle of victims seeking legal redress for torture and other human rights abuses committed during Spain’s General Franco’s dictatorial reign. The film serves as a cautionary tale of fascism, its enduring wounds, and enduring presence.
Semilla Verde Productions, Lucernam Films, American Documentary | POV, Independent Television Service, Latino Public Broadcasting, El Deseo (PBS)
“Surviving R. Kelly”
This explosive six-part series, based on interviews with women who survived alleged sexual abuse from R&B superstar R. Kelly, chronicles the complicity of a music industry and fans who turned a blind eye to multiple allegations as the singer rose to staggering heights of fame. The result is a powerful exploration of celebrity, the double standard of justice around gender and race, and how speaking truth can effect change.
Bunim/Murray Productions and Kreativ Inc. for Lifetime (Lifetime)
“The Edge of Democracy”
Telling the epic tragedy of what happened in Brazil, from Lula to Bolsonaro, this film from director Petra Costa commandingly and chillingly shows how precarious a democracy can be.
A Busca Vida Filmes Production in association with Violet Films for Netflix (Netflix)
“True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”
A profile of attorney Bryan Stevenson and his work at the Equal Justice Initiative seeking justice for the incarcerated poor and death row inmates in Alabama and the South, the film offers a searing indictment of the court system, and helps viewers see how the U.S. Supreme Court is historically and directly accountable for sustaining racial violence, white supremacy, and the exploitation of black people through the trajectory of decisions that leads from enslavement to lynching to the death penalty.
HBO Documentary Films and Kunhardt Films (HBO)
HBO Miniseries and SKY in association with Sister, The Mighty Mint, and Word Games (HBO)
“David Makes Man”
Page Fright and Outlier Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Apple / wiip / Anonymous Content / Tuning Fork Productions / Sugar 23 Productions (Apple TV+)
All3Media International Limited and Amazon Studios (Prime Video)
Hulu, A24 Television (Hulu)
Monkey Massacre Productions & 21 Laps Entertainment (Netflix)
HBO Entertainment in association with Project Zeus, Hyperobject Industries, and Gary Sanchez Productions (HBO)
Timberman-Beverly Productions, Sage Lane Productions, Escapist Fare, Katie Couric Media, and CBS Television Studios for Netflix (Netflix)
HBO in association with White Rabbit, Paramount, Warner Bros. Television and DC (HBO)
“When They See Us”
Participant Media, Tribeca Productions, Harpo Films, Array Filmworks for Netflix (Netflix)
“Dolly Parton’s America”
Osm Audio and WNYC Studios (WNYC)
“Have You Heard George’s Podcast?”
BBC Sounds/George the Poet Ltd. (BBC Sounds)
“In the Dark: The Path Home”
American Public Media (APM Reports)
“Threshold: The Refuge”
“A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness”
NBC News, Engel Unit (NBC/MSNBC)
“Long Island Divided”
“The Hidden Workforce: Undocumented in America”
CHILDREN’S & YOUTH
“Molly of Denali”
WGBH Educational Foundation, Atomic Cartoons (PBS Kids)