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Ascension directed by Jessica Kingdon
Ascension directed by Jessica Kingdon

Features by two first-time documentarians, Ascension by Jessica Kingdon and Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson lead this year’s nominations for the 6th Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards (CCDA) with six each.

Ascension is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Jessica Kingdon for Best Director, Best First Documentary Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Score.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson for Best Director, Best First Documentary Feature, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary and Best Music Documentary.

Recognized with five nominations each are Becoming Cousteau and The Rescue.

The nominations for Becoming Cousteau are Best Documentary Feature, Liz Garbus for Best Director, Best Narration, Best Archival Documentary and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

The Rescue is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Score.

“This has been and continues to be a fantastic year for documentary storytelling. And the number of first-time feature documentarians in the mix of nominees, alongside proven veterans, shows that nonfiction cinema continues to have a very bright future,” said Christopher Campbell, President of the Critics Choice Association Documentary Branch. “Our world, from its most amazing wonders to its greatest challenges, is being reflected back on the screen so immediately and creatively by today’s filmmakers, and it’s a tremendous honor for us to recognize all of their achievements.”

Last year at the Fifth Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Dick Johnson is Dead took home the CCA’s top award for Best Documentary as well as the Best Director award for Kirsten Johnson.

In addition to the 14 award categories and one honor listed below, a most prestigious honor – The Pennebaker Award (formerly known as the Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award) – will be presented to esteemed documentarian R.J. Cutler. This award is named for Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award winner D A Pennebaker, who passed away in 2019. The award will be presented to Cutler by Pennebaker’s producing partner and wife, Chris Hegedus.

R.J. Cutler is the award-winning producer/director whose work includes some of the most acclaimed documentaries of the last thirty years. His most recent film, the Apple Original Film cinema verité documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry, is nominated for Best Music Documentary.

The winners will be revealed at a Gala Event on Sunday, November 14, 2021 at BRIC in Brooklyn, NY.

6th Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards Nominees

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Attica (Showtime)
Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)
A Crime on the Bayou (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)
Flee (Neon)
Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)
The Lost Leonardo (Sony Pictures Classics)
My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)
Procession (Netflix)
The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)

BEST DIRECTOR

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin – The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Liz Garbus – Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jessica Kingdon – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry – Attica (Showtime)
Jonas Poher Rasmussen – Flee (Neon)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
(Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Edgar Wright – The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Jessica Beshir – Faya Dayi (Janus Films)
Rachel Fleit – Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)
Todd Haynes – The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)
Jessica Kingdon – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Kristine Stolakis – Pray Away (Netflix)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
(Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Edgar Wright – The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Jessica Beshir – Faya Dayi (Janus Films)
Jonathan Griffith, Brett Lowell and Austin Siadak – The Alpinist (Roadside Attractions)
David Katznelson, Ian Seabrook and Picha Srisansanee – The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jessica Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Nelson Hume and Alan Jacobsen – The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (Bleecker Street Media)
Emiliano Villanueva – A Cop Movie (Netflix)
Pete West – Puff: Wonders of the Reef (Netflix)

BEST EDITING

Francisco Bello, Matthew Heineman, Gabriel Rhodes and David Zieff – The First Wave (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jeff Consiglio – LFG (HBO Max and CNN Films)
Bob Eisenhardt – The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Affonso Gonçalves and Adam Kurnitz – The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)
Jessica Kingdon – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Joshua L. Pearson – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Julian Quantrill – The Real Charlie Chaplin (Showtime)

BEST NARRATION

9/11: Inside the President’s War Room (Apple TV+)
Jeff Daniels, Narrator

Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Vincent Cassel, Narrator
Mark Monroe and Pax Wassermann, Writers

The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)
Alex Gibney, Narrator
Alex Gibney, Writer

The Neutral Ground (PBS)
CJ Hunt, Narrator
CJ Hunt, Writer

The Real Charlie Chaplin (Showtime)
Pearl Mackie, Narrator
Oliver Kindeberg, Peter Middleton and James Spinney, Writers

Val (Amazon Studios)
Jack Kilmer, Narrator
Val Kilmer, Writer

The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+)
David Attenborough, Narrator

BEST SCORE

Jongnic Bontemps – My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)
Dan Deacon – Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Alex Lasarenko and David Little – The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (Bleecker Street Media)
Cyrus Melchor – LFG (HBO/CNN)
Daniel Pemberton – The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Rachel Portman – Julia (Sony Pictures Classics)
Dirac Sea – Final Account (Focus Features)

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY

Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
The Real Charlie Chaplin (Showtime)
The Real Right Stuff (Disney+)
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (HBO Documentary Films)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Val (Amazon Studios)
The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)

BEST HISTORICAL OR BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY

Attica (Showtime)
A Crime on the Bayou (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)
Fauci (Magnolia Pictures/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Final Account (Focus Features)
Julia (Sony Pictures Classics)
My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)
No Ordinary Man (Oscilloscope)
Val (Amazon Studios)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry (Apple TV+)
Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James (Showtime)
Listening to Kenny G (HBO Documentary Films)
The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Tina (HBO Documentary Films)
The Velvet Underground (Apple TV+)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY

The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)
Enemies of the State (IFC Films)
Four Hours at the Capitol (HBO Documentary Films)
Influence (StoryScope, EyeSteelFilm)
Mayor Pete (Amazon Studios)
Missing in Brooks County (Giant Pictures)
Nasrin (Hulu)
Not Going Quietly (Greenwich Entertainment)

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY

Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Fauci (National Geographic Documentary Films)
The First Wave (National Geographic Documentary Films)
The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (Bleecker Street Media)
Playing with Sharks (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Puff: Wonders of the Reef (Netflix)
The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY

The Alpinist (Roadside Attractions)
Changing the Game (Hulu)
The Day Sports Stood Still (HBO)
Kevin Garnett: Anything is Possible (Showtime)
LFG (HBO Max/CNN Films)
Tiger (HBO)

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

Audible (Netflix)
Borat’s American Lockdown (Amazon Studios)|
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis (Netflix)
Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol (The New York Times)
The Doll (Jumping Ibex)
The Last Cruise (HBO Documentary Films)
The Queen of Basketball (The New York Times)
Snowy(TIME Studios)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS OF A DOCUMENTARY (HONOR)

Ady Barkan – Not Going Quietly (Greenwich Entertainment)
Selma Blair – Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)
Pete Buttigieg – Mayor Pete (Amazon Studios)
Anthony Fauci – Fauci (Magnolia Pictures/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Ben Fong-Torres – Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres (StudioLA.TV)
Val Kilmer – Val (Amazon Studios)
Ron and Russell Mael – The Sparks Brothers (Focus Features)
Rita Moreno – Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It (Roadside Attractions)
Valerie Taylor – Playing With Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story (Disney+)

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