Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

From Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County U.S.A. to Frederick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies, some of the most lauded and lasting nonfiction films of all time have been crafted by debut filmmakers. Previous winners in this category include Jennifer Venditti for Billy the Kid (2008), Yung Chang for Up the Yangtze (2009), Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher for October Country (2010), Jeff Malmberg for Marwencol (2011), Clio Barnard for The Arbor (2012), Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims for Only the Young (2013) and Zachary Heinzerling for Cutie and the Boxer (2014).

Approaching the Elephant

Nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

It is year one at Little Falls, New Jersey’s Teddy McArdle Free School, where classes are voluntary and rules are created by democratic vote. Filmmaker Amanda Rose Wilder is there from the beginning, observing an indelible cast of outspoken young...

Evolution of a Criminal

Nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

As a teenager, filmmaker Darius Monroe was an honor student, well liked by his teachers and peers. But he was overwhelmed by his family’s money problems; there was constant anxiety about being able to pay the bills and keep afloat....

Finding Vivian Maier

Nominated for Audience Choice, Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

When Vivian Maier died in 2009 at age 83, she left behind more than 100,000 negatives of her street photography—images that she’d scarcely shared with anyone. Acquiring a box of her photos at a storage auction, John Maloof became obsessed...

The Return to Homs

Nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film, Outstanding Achievement in Production

Homs, Syria, is a city under siege. On the frontline of the Syrian Civil War, it is at the epicenter of the defensive insurgency led by the charismatic Abdul Basset, goalkeeper of the national soccer team. Only nineteen years old,...

20,000 Days on Earth

Nominated for Audience Choice, Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film, Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking, Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score

Singer-songwriter Nick Cave is a singular figure from the last 40 years of music, a feral rogue whose Old Testament–style psychodramas and murder ballads stir up salvation and damnation in equal measure. In this exquisite profile, his still-vital spirit is...

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