Kevin Macdonald: Winner of 2012 Coutts Grierson Trustees’ Award
By Ben Taylor 19 October, 2012
Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald has been announced as this year’s recipient of the prestigious Coutts Grierson Trustees’ Award. This award recognizes Macdonald’s incredible contribution to the art of documentary, an accolade which he undoubtedly deserves.
The award, offered only to the crème de la crème of British and International documentary film-makers, proves Macdonald’s talent for creating visually thrilling tales, offering both filmmakers and audiences alike a film reel of truly remarkable and inspiring work.
This announcement has given us an excuse to muse over the talent of one of our favourite documentary filmmakers that we’ve had the honour to have at our festival on a number of occasions.
In One Day in September, Macdonald brought alive the contentious issues behind the Palestinian terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics. This film proved to be ground-breaking in its incredible quality of research, showing revealing interviews with the surviving terrorist Jamal Al Gashey. This sparsely narrated film deservedly won an Oscar in 2000 for Best Documentary for its powerful and unforgettable imagery alongside the memorable soundtrack of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’.
In 2003 Touching the Void saw Macdonald win his second BAFTA with the harrowing tale of the near fatal attempt to climb the Peruvian mountain Siula Grande. Adapted from the 1988 book by Joe Simpson, audiences were given a glimpse of documentary’s ability to capture extreme human endeavor, showing the character, friendship and courage in the face of death.
Macdonald is also an innovator in the field of documentary, creating the ambitious crowd-sourced documentary Life in a Day in 2011. Made from over 4,500 hours of footage in 80,000 submissions from 192 nations in conjunction with YouTube, this powerful and touching documentary shows the variety of the human race whilst simultaneously highlighting personal issues that affect us all.
Macdonald discussed the production of Life in a Day at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2010 prior to its release. You can see the interview here.
Most recently Macdonald directed the widely acclaimed Marley, an exhaustive biography of reggae music’s most famous son, Bob Marley. Peter Bradshaw rightly praised Macdonald’s technique in his glowing review of the film ‘Macdonald's overwhelming warmth and passion suffuses the picture, and the testimony he gets from Marley's friends, family and fellow band members has pungency and insight’.
Previous recipients of the Coutts Grierson Trustees’ Award are Penny Woolcock, Nick Fraser, and Sir David Attenborough, documentary luminaries that have made a profound and ground-breaking contribution to documentary film and Macdonald is deservedly joining this illustrious group.