Films selected for the 2019 festival collectively represented a significant increase in quality as we enter into a new "Golden Age of Documentaries".
Even so, there must be winners
Below is a summary list of the Winning Films - if you want to visit the individual film pages for all the winners click on this link
Audience members are asked to vote for every film they watch. In the end the results are collated and the result is perhaps the most sought after award. The film was also recognized by the judges to be the best produced by a New England film maker.
Director: Bill Gallagher
When he was only nine, Guor Mading Maker (known as Guor Marial) ran from capture in war-torn Sudan to eventually seek safety in the US. In his new life, Maker began running again, participating in high school track and field and eventually becoming a sensation qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. But because the newly formed South Sudan was not recognized by the International Olympics committee, Maker had to fight to compete independently, refusing to run for Sudan and taking a stand against its oppression.Runner depicts Maker’s difficult and triumphant journey from refugee to world-renowned athlete, told in intimate interviews with gorgeously animated flashbacks.
About Bill Gallagher
Bill Gallagher was the Line Producer for the Academy Award nominated IF A TREE FALLS. Prior to that he worked on on Marshall Curry’s award-winning RACING DREAMS, which won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Both films were on the BBC and PBS and had a theatrical release. He completed his Graduate work at the Documentary Media Studies program at The New School, in New York City. In addition to working at NBC’s Washington Bureau and at Harvard Business School Publishing, Bill has also lectured on documentary production at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. Runner is his first film as director. Bill grew up in the Quinsigamond Village section of Worcester, graduated from Holy Name Junior Senior High School and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and studied in the documentary program at The New School in New York. He previously worked for Marshall Curry Productions in New York, and is currently living in Madrid, Spain with his Spanish wife.
Director: Jesse Alk
Pariah Dog is a creative documentary focusing on several eccentric street dog caretakers in Kolkata, India. Shot over three years, the film paints a kaleidoscopic picture of the city of Kolkata, seen through the prism of four outsiders and the dogs they love. These men and women have found meaning and purpose in their shared mission to care for neglected street dogs, who have existed in the towns and villages of India for thousands of years. For some this mission is enough, for others, dreams of a better life are always near.Production began in September of 2014, and wrapped in April, 2017. In 2017
Director: Daniel Lovering
'Motorcycle Man' is a short documentary about a man who has pursued a single passion in life: motorcycle racing. Dave Roper has raced every year since 1972, competing on exotic vintage bikes at racetracks around the world and winning a reputation as a folk hero of the sport.But Roper is hardly an adrenaline addict. He takes a philosophical approach to racing, viewing it as a test of mental and physical abilities. As he enters his twilight years, Roper reflects on the unconventional path he has followed in life, the dangers he has faced and the choices he has made.In the post-war era, when many men and women sought security in conformity, Roper took chances and dared to be different. A Vietnam veteran, he never married and has lived alone in a small, cluttered house on Long Island since 1978. But he finds fulfillment on the racetrack and through a large community of friends, some of whom run a fan club in his honor.'Motorcycle Man' follows Roper from a workshop in Brooklyn to his home on Long Island to a racetrack in Canada. Along the way he encounters autograph-seeking admirers, old friends and fellow racers eager to test their skills on the track. It also delves into Roper's past, including his historic win at the Isle of Man TT in 1984, when he became the first American ever to win the notoriously dangerous race.'Motorcycle Man' celebrates the speed, sweat and thrill of motorcycle racing, while offering a meditation on craft, obsession and what it takes to pursue your dreams.
Director: Zachary Stauffer
Lt. Wes Van Dorn, a 29-year-old United States Naval Academy graduate and the married father of two young sons, died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed off the coast of Virginia during a 2014 training exercise. Motivated by her grief, his wife Nicole sought an explanation for the cause of the disaster. Her efforts spurred an investigation that uncovered a long history of negligence and institutional failings around the 53E helicopter—the model Van Dorn was piloting when he was killed, and the deadliest aircraft in the US military. Through incisive reporting and interviews with Van Dorn’s colleagues and family, Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? is at once a poignant picture of one family's tragedy, as well as a revelatory inquiry into the murky inner-workings of the American defense establishment.“I need to finish Wes’s work. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he was wrong. I don’t know. But the only way to find that out, is to… look into that, and to talk to people, and to see if the worst was actually the truth"
About Zachary Stauffer
The film was selected as the Best Film by a First Time film-maker at the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival. The director, Zachary Stauffer is a staff producer at UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program. Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?, is his first feature documentary. Throughout his career, he’s contributed to a number of documentary films as a producer or DP, many for PBS Frontline, including Money and March Madness (2011), Murdoch’s Scandal (2012), The Child Cases (2011), Post Mortem (2011), the DuPont award-winning Rape In The Fields (2013) and its follow ups Rape On The Night Shift (2015) and Trafficked in America (2018). His short documentary, A Day Late In Oakland (2008), about the murder of a local journalist, was nominated for two IDA Awards, screened at film festivals across the country and was broadcast on KQED in San Francisco. He began his career at Northern Light Productions in Boston. There he served as co-producer of The Special: A Story of an American Anthem (2005), which premiered at the Nashville Film Festival and screened at Silver Docs and other festivals. Stauffer is a graduate of Boston College and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he is currently a lecturer.
David Kleiler was an icon of the Boston film scene who founded the Boston Underground Film Festival and whose direction helped to save and transform the Coolidge Corner Theatre into the brilliant arthouse cinema it is today, died in April 2019 of complications from esophageal cancer. David was a very important part of the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival as a judge for many years. He was a constant presence in town over the festival weekends because he loved to rewatch the films sitting in the audience and taking in the reactions.
David loved creativity, he liked film makers that were willing to "push the envelope" and the award is best described as "What would David like?"\
Director: Penny Lane
Chronicling the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon). When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways.