LOS ANGELES – The International Documentary Association awarded the Pare Lorentz prize at a ceremony Friday to a film about Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Lithuania who issued more than 2,000 visas to Jews during World War II.
Since 1984, the association — which has more than 2,500 members in 50 countries — has recognized the achievements of makers of nonfiction short films, features, single programs within a series, and student productions.
The Pare Lorentz award was added four years ago. It is given to the film that best reflects the democratic sensibility, activist spirit and lyrical vision of Lorentz, said Grace Ouchida, the acting executive director of IDA.
Lorentz was a renowned maker of political documentaries whose career spanned more than 50 years. He is considered one of America’s great pioneers in the genre.
“This award should be dedicated to Chiune Sugihara because they have the same spirit,” said Diane Estelle Vicari, the film’s producer. “They both fought for what they believed and in Sugihara’s case he paid a high price for what he did.”
More than 40 films were initially submitted under the Pare Lorentz category. Of the 40 entries, five finalists were considered by a five-member jury.
Pare Lorentz Jr. and Erik Barnouw — an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker — were among the judges who chose “Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness,” as the 2000 award winner.
Ouchida, who worked with the judges, believes the Sugihara film stood out because it was a well-researched documentary that utilized archival footage and captured the activist spirit embodied by Lorentz.
The IDA awards are “the Oscars of the documentary world,” according to Ouchida. IDA and Oscar nominees frequently overlap.
In addition to the award, Vicari will receive a cash prize of $2,500. The Sugihara film also received the Best Documentary award at the Hollywood Film Festival in August.
As well as awarding prizes, the IDA also honored Martin Scorsese, the founder of the Film Foundation, for his efforts since the late 1970s to preserve color films which were fading.
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